Skip the Cardio

I talk to people all the time who want to know, "What's the best cardio workout to lose the weight?"

This what I tell them, "Don't lose weight and skip the cardio."

Let me explain.

When people come to me who want to lose weight, they usually want to lose fat, because their percentage of body fat, like most Americans, is at an unhealthy level. But I try to help them understand that to burn fat they need to build muscle. Muscle is more dense than fat. If they are doing a cardio workout, they might be losing inches at the waist and getting stronger, but their weight may stay the same, or even increase.

When people don't see their weight dropping, they feel like they are failing and stop exercising. They are tracking the wrong thing. They need to track inches and percentage body fat, not weight.

What about cardio? Don't get me wrong. I love going for a long run or doing an intense routine of martial arts forms. I have been known to go for hours at a time doing these cardio exercises. But to burn fat - which is what most people are really asking about - doing exercises to build muscle is much more important.

See a comparison of fat vs muscle here.

Click here to see how that looks on a person.

Muscle is THREE TIMES or more metabolically active than fat, which means, if you have one pound of fat burning one calorie an hour, one pound of muscle will burn three calories in the same amount of time!

If a person does a traditional cardio exercises in want to work off fat, they will burn calories during that time frame, but then it will burn at a much slower rate when their bodies are at rest. If that same person did a total body weight training regimen which packed on muscle, they would burn some calories during the workout as well as while their body is at rest. In fact, their body would burn three times more calories than if they had only done a cardio work out!

So that’s why I say, “Don't lose weight and skip the cardio.” or “Don’t lose weight. Pack on the pounds!”  Just be sure they are the right pounds. Don’t go running for three hours to burn one pound of fat. Do forty minutes of weight training to build muscle and shed the fat while sitting at your desk for the rest of the day!