Nothing compares to going for a run or bike ride after a long day. As the ultimate stress reliever, many of us use cardio to escape the craziness of day-to-day life. While there are many mental and physical benefits of cardio, there’s are many myths that may be sabotaging your fitness goals.
Here are six of the most common cardio myths:
- When you do enough cardio, you can eat whatever you want and still lose weight
Exercise is only part of the weight loss equation. It doesn’t matter how many cardio workouts you’re doing if all you’re eating is junk food.
Also, keep in mind, while cardio is a key component in any weight loss regimen, strength training is just as important. If you aren’t strengthening your muscles while burning fat, you will end up losing both muscle and fat. This can slow down your metabolism, which will ultimately hurt your weight loss efforts.
2. Focus on the number of calories burned
If you’re running on the treadmill to burn a certain number of calories, you’re missing the point. When it comes to your metabolic rate, machines can only give you an estimate.
Rather than focusing on calories, focus on the intensity of your workout. For example, by running faster in quick bursts you’ll continue to burn calories even after your workout ends.
To see if you’re working hard enough, stay at around 80 percent of your maximum heart rate. On the machine intensity intervals, aim for an 8 or 9 (on a 1 to 10 scale).
For more specific information, check out the exercise guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services.
3. You will burn more fat on an empty stomach
The idea behind this myth is that if your body doesn’t have food as fuel to burn, it will go into the body’s fat supply. Studies show the opposite is true. Consuming carbs pre-workout increases the amount of fat burned compared to fasting beforehand.
4. Cardio will help you lose weight faster than strength training
Just sticking to cardio will cause you to burn fewer calories in the long run. Strength training builds lean muscle mass, and boosts your “resting metabolism,” which is the rate your body burns calories without exercise.
According to a study published in the journal Obesity, dieters who did strength training four times a week for 18 months lost more fat compared to dieters who did only aerobic exercise.
5. The more you sweat, the more you are getting out of your cardio workout
The amount of sweat isn’t an indicator of how hard you’re working. Think about when a group of people step out of a gym class: Some look like they jumped into a pool while others are only glistening. This comes down to biology, not work ethic.
6. You should do cardio workout before weight training
Many people believe cardio should come before lifting weights, when in fact, doing weight training first will make your workout more effective overall.
Lifting weights requires more energy compared to cardio, so if you do weight training first, then your energy levels will be at their highest. This can be followed by a lower intensity cardio workout for optimal weight loss results.
Now, you can hit the ground running (literally) and make the most of your cardio workouts!