What Cardio Method Is Best For You?
For many gym goers the goal is fat loss and what you very often find people spending the majority of their time on a cardio based machine and prioritising this over weight training.
Research has found strength and resistance training to be king for fat loss as it helps preserve fat-free mass, which can increase the number of calories your body burns at rest, so make sure this is your main focus. However, large amounts of cardio are common during fat loss. But is this the best approach?
How Much Cardio Should I Do?
Research based analysis found that strength and size gains were reduced as the amount of cardio increased. These results suggest that doing as little cardio as possible is likely optimal.
However, the deeper you are in a fat loss phase the likelihood of adding in cardio is needed to create a larger caloric deficit without having to take away calories.
Creating a deficit by only reducing calories can result in some miserably low intakes. However, adding in a bit of cardio as a tool may help keep calories a bit higher while dieting and make the experience more bearable.
Therefore, the most optimal amount of cardio for fat loss is the least amount needed (combined with diet) to result in an appropriate rate of fat loss.
What Should I Do For Cardio?
For fat loss, there is no best type of cardio and is all down to personal preference. If you enjoy taking fitness classes, do that. If you enjoy running outside, by all means do your cardio outdoors. The more important thing is to stay consistent with your cardio schedule and select types of cardio you enjoy doing.
One thing you want to avoid is doing cardio prior to lifting weights as you want keep lifting performance high and hold onto muscle while dieting. I suggest doing cardio on a day seperate to your weight training or after.
How Intense Should My Cardio Sessions Be?
It is common to see individuals doing lower intensity cardio to keep their heart rate in the “fat burning zone.” While it is true that a higher percentage of fat is burned during low-intensity cardio (LISS) there is no difference in the amount of of fat burned over a 24hr period when comparing to someone training at a higher intensity (HIIT).
On the other hand, analysis found that low intensity cardio negatively affected muscle mass and strength more than high intensity cardio but it should also be noted that high intensity cardio is a lot more difficult to recover from and may impact performance while lifting weights.
As such, it may be best to perform high-intensity cardio. But if doing so interferes with lifting performance and recovery, lower-intensity forms of cardio should also be incorporated.
There is no “best” cardio protocol for fat loss. Find something you enjoy doing and incorporate variety to keep things fun.
Aim to do the least amount of cardio while still seeing appropriate rates of fat loss.
If you find it difficult to recover from high intensity cardio, do lower-intensity cardio.
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