Cardio exercises are usually regarded as the necessary evil required to achieve a good body shape, lose weight, and improve heart health. The fact is, when combined with a good weight training plan, cardio can be a fun way to exercise and achieve great glutes. And as the name suggests, it is also awesome for your heart. The quandary is, while all of these pros are great, there are certain erroneous believes running around that may hinder your fitness goals when you pay attention to them. The secret is finding the ideal movements that will put you on the right track to achieving your goals. Here are 20 of the biggest myths about doing cardio debunked.
1. For Faster Weight Loss, You Need to Do More Cardio
Logging several hours on those fast paced gym machines can be a definite way to shade off the weight, considering that it’s calories in against calories out. While this may be true to a certain extent, unfortunately it is the wrong type of weight. Cardio alone tends to melt off both muscle and fat. For a more permanent change, you need to incorporate strength exercises into your routine, which will build lean muscle mass. This will in turn boost your metabolism and burn more fat, even when you are not exercising.
2. You Need to Exercise For At Least One Hour
This is flat out incorrect. Any type of body movement can help in burning calories. However, you can enhance your cardio exercises by increasing the efficiency with which you burn the calories. You may be able to burn more calories in a longer, steady state cardio, but the most important thing is what happens after the workout. Engaging in high intensity interval training (HIIT) will increase your metabolism and leave your body burning calories for up to thirty eight hours after the workout is done.
3. For Maximum Body Fat Loss, Do Cardio on an Empty Stomach
This myth is derived from the notion that if you don’t have readily available calories in your body, the stored fat will be used up and reduce the deposit. But research has shown that fat burning is consistent whether you have eaten before a workout or not. The fact is, your body needs energy in order to perform, and this energy comes from the food you eat.
4. You Need to Stay In the “Fat Burning Zone” to Burn Fat
This fitness fallacy is half true: you will certainly burn more calories from fat at a lower intensity, which is considered the “fat burning zone”. The jam is that it is the total calories burned that really count for weight loss. Deduction: If you are running at 7mph, you will burn a quarter of your calories from fat. On the other hand, walking at half that speed will burn 40% of your calories from fat. This gives walking a clear edge. However, if for instance you burn 500 calories or 125 fat calories in half an hour at the 7mph pace, the walking pace would translate to approximately 250 calories in the same period. The math: 40% of 250 = 100. This means the “fat burning zone” does not win either. The bottom line: you have a better chance of shading more pounds when exercising at a higher intensity.
5. Cycling or Running Cardio Means You Don’t Have to Exercise the Legs
Unless you are cranking up the bike’s resistance or doing full on sprints to the point where you can’t move any more (and yet you continue), chances are you are not enough muscle building benefits from your exercise. As such, you need to incorporate strength movements such as lunges, deadlifts, and squats in order to achieve significant metabolic gains for boosting the largest muscles in your body. What’s more, strength exercises will make you a better cyclist and runner.
6. Doing Enough Cardio Means That You can Eat Anything You Want and Still Lose
Most people tend to overestimate the amount of calories they burn during their workouts, as well as the calories they are eating. Exercise on its own is not sufficient to burn fat. In fact, studies have shown that the average overweight person loses about 5 pounds of fat over a period of 8 months through resistance training and cardio exercises alone. That’s an awful lot of work for extremely trivial results. Keep in mind the “calories in” part of the equation and stick to a healthy diet that contains the calories needed to lose weight.
7. Start With Cardio, Then Proceed to The Weights
This dilemma is as old as chicken or egg conundrum: which should start first, strength training or cardio? The truth is, if you hit the treadmill for a thorough cardio session while hoping to concentrate on the weights afterward, you won’t have enough energy to make the most of your resistance training. When high intensity resistance training and cardio workouts are involved, tackle each one on separate days.
8. You Need to Burn at Least 500 Calories When Doing Cardio
Striving to achieve a certain number on the treadmill is a waste of time and energy because machines only have the ability to estimate the metabolic rate. Do not worry about the red lights on the console and simply concentrate on intensity. Working harder in short bursts will burn you more calories even long after your workout is done. Use the rate of perceive exertion scale (1-10), aiming for an eight or nine on high intensity intervals, or a heart rate monitor, aiming to maintain between 75 and 85% of your maximum heart rate. This will help you determine whether you are working hard enough.
9. Wearing Weights While Doing Cardio Will Help You Burn More Fat
Do not fall into the trap of believing that putting on those 2-pound straps on your ankles will thrust you into fat burning mode. This is one of the biggest myths about doing cardio. First, these are not heavy enough to have a significant impact on your calorie burn, and second, they may throw you off balance and lead to injury. Rather, concentrate on increasing the intensity of your cardio exercises as opposed to the amount of resistance. If you are looking to enhance your strength, go to the weight room instead – that is where you will get stronger.
10. To Make Progress, You Should Stick to the Same Type of Cardio Daily
Like weight training, doing the same thing over and over again will cause your body to adapt and deem the exercise irrelevant. The result: you will burn fewer and fewer calories every day and end up in the dreaded plateau. Rather, try to mix up your exercises by cycling one day, running the next, and maybe engaging in the elliptical machine the day after. Additionally, remember to adjust the intensity of your workout, which will cause your body to fluctuate between periods of resting and being pushed to its limit, eventually leading to progress.
11. Cardio Does Not Require Much Concentration
Some people believe that cardio does not demand a lot of concentration, so they can entertain themselves by watching TV or reading while exercising. The fact is, if you are able to completely focus on a magazine or TV while doing cardio, then chances are you’re not working hard enough. You need to have just the right pace to concentrate on the task at hand. If you are not looking to break a lot of sweat, you may get away with entertaining yourself, but it is always better to pay attention to your movements to maintain the right form.
12. Toning Requires Different Equipment
Performing a wide range of activities or using different pieces of equipment for your cardio workout is a great way to keep things interesting. However, if you are looking to really build lean tissue or modify the shape of your muscles, then you should incorporate resistance training as well. While cardio will certainly lead to weight loss, your ability to change your physique and refine it with attention to the tiny bits is typically where a blend of training ideals is suggested.
13. Cardio is Boring
This is not necessarily true. Of course, running on the treadmill for a prolonged period can seem rather daunting and monotonous, or cycling continuously in a stationary position without enjoying the breeze of fresh air passing through your hair. But you can avoid being stuck in this rut of boredom by mixing things up. HIIT training and Kettle Bell circuits are brilliant ways to liven your cardio and bring a smile to your face!
14. Running Is the Most Effective Type of Cardio
Some people’s definition of winning is being clapped after in a marathon race. While running is great, it is not ideal for everyone. Your best “type” of cardio should be a personal thing, which needs to be specific to your needs. Just boost your heart rate and have fun with it.
15. High Intensity Cardio Exercises are Designed For Advanced Athletes Only
This is obviously not true, since intensity is an individual affair. For fit and more experienced athletes, high intensity intervals might mean sprinting ridiculously for thirty seconds and jogging for 2 minutes, repeating this for about twenty to thirty minutes! When it comes to a less fit or less experienced person, high intensity might be the jogging part, with the moderate work of the workout being walking.
16. Maintaining a Leisurely Pace Will not Lead to Weight Loss
A simple swim or run is not a waste of time. It’s still a type of movement that will burn you calories and facilitate blood flow to your muscles. This kind of pace is ideal for when you are new to the routine or are looking to take a break from your “beast mode” days.
17. Cardio Is Safe and Does Not Require Much Coaching
When you consider the biomechanics of cardio workout, one common theme stands out: it does not involve full joint range motion. Look at your knees and hips while jogging or cycling. They have a very restricted portion of movement from their full range, repeating this shorter range numerous times (hundreds or even
thousands) during a complete workout session. Doing this for a prolonged period can lead to tightening of your muscles, ligaments, and tendons associated with the working joints. This means that people who participate in these cardio activities only will tend to experience diminished range of motion and flexibility over time. You can counteract this through a well-designed conditioning and strength training program.
18. You Can Wear Your Workout Snickers Until They Tire Out
It is easy to assume that your workout sneakers are in perfect condition, even when they are several months old, but sneakers do come with expiration dates. It is advisable to get a new pair of workout sneakers after every four to six months. While you may think that your old sneakers are still comfortable, they are not supportive enough. If you notice that the soles on your sneakers feel slightly larger or are clearly worn down, it is time to invest in a new pair; otherwise you will compromise on your feet and cardio workout.
19. Cardio Is A Cure-All
Just like excessive cardio won’t make you big and ripped, it will not heal all the stress and despondency in your life. If you thought this was the case, sorry to burst your bubble. In addition to its “fat-burning” fallacy, cardio is regarded as an almost magical antidepressant, stress buster, and mood booster. While cardio can go a long way towards boosting your mental health, you need to incorporate other forms of exercise like yoga, resistance training, and even Tai Chi to experience a consistent, positive result. But it is important to note that, in the same way that overexertion can hurt you, excessive cardio training can have a negative impact on your stress – both physical and mental. Each time you exercise for more than 45 minutes or so, your body starts releasing more cortisol – a stress response hormone that has been associated with reduced inflammation, anxiety, blood sugar, and weight.
20. There Is a Specific Running Form Every Runner Should Follow
While there are certain ideal practices that apply to everyone, running form usually depends on the person. Apart from cadence, lean, and arm swing, chances are there is a reason why you run the way you do. However, it is a good idea to adjust your technique over time, patiently, and only after noticing patterns. Most of your concentration should be based on slowly escalating from a sluggish to a faster cadence, like 180.