Walk into any gym and you’ll see all the girls in the cardio area and all the boys hitting the weights. Although, I must say times are changing; if you’re an avid gym goer you’ll see a few specks of woman in the weight room but it is very seldom. There is something about the weights that scares woman. From what has been brought to my attention most woman are embarrassed that they do not know how to exercise properly or they fear of getting bulky; so they stick to cardio to play it safe. The downfall? Playing it safe is getting you no where it’s keeping you exactly where you don’t want to be. Which is no muscle tone, you look lanky and skinny, or you’re not losing fat at all. *Sigh*
Cardio can be abused though, that’s what sucks. At some point the amount of cardio that used to work for you starts to not work anymore. That’s because of how adaptive our bodies are. One must remember that your body always wants to be within balance. It always wants to keep your body in a happy and healthy place. So if you are doing a lot of cardio and you notice no more fat loss it’s time to accept that your body is done working with you it is now working against you. It is stopping all fat burn and now it’s switching to safe zone which is holding on to your stored fat for dear life.
So how much cardio should you do? Well that depends. I recently did a short video on this exact topic go ahead and take a watch and keep reading here for more in-depth cardio chat.
Back to where I was. How much cardio you need to do depends on your goals.
Are you trying to lose body fat? Keeping up with cardio health? Trying to gain lean muscle? Maintenance of current physique?
Losing body fat: If body fat loss is the goal, you always want to do as little cardio as possible while still making progress. That way when it is time to include a little more cardio to keep fat loss going you have room to add it in. However, if you are at 1 hr of cardio 7x/week how the heck are you going to add more?! That’s madness if you are doing more than that, I’m sure you have a life.
Muscle gain: When trying to gain lean muscle; you want to do enough to keep your fat gain at bay but not too much where it inhibits your muscle gains (i.e you’re expanding too many calories through cardio and not leaving enough calories towards muscle growth). The rule of thumb is you better not be doing more cardio minutes per week than your weight training minutes per week.
Body Maintenance: If you are happy with where you are, you can do a trail and error. See how many cardio sessions you currently do then try to reduce the cardio amount until you find your sweet spot. Meaning, if you notice you can get away with only 1 cardio session per week and weight train 5 days per week without any fat gain then perfect! Keep it there until it no longer works.
Athlete: I personally do not train marathon athletes. I have never been a runner nor do I have any desire to be one. Therefore, I can’t and do not coach someone who wants to do marathons or even triathlons. If you are an athlete who requires a lot of cardio then I would assume you either are working with someone who knows how much you need to do for athletic performance or you personally know you need to do more cardio for competitive purposes.
MY CURRENT CARDIO REGIMEN: currently I do cardio 2x/week for 20-30min max. I do interval training only. Meaning I will do 30 seconds all out battle rope followed by a rest period and repeat. I will do sprints outdoor, even burpees inside my home. The rest of my daily activity is weight training and being on my feet (i.e walking my dog, running errands, training my clients, etc.). If at anytime I find this isn’t maintaining my weight any longer I will first look at how I am eating them move on to increasing activity if need be.