Why Steady State Cardio Actually Sucks in New Orleans

April 27, 2010

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Why Steady State Cardio Actually Sucks in New Orleans(as a primary fat loss tool)

There are 2 major reasons in my book why standard cardio is a big loser for fat loss.

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Reason 1

The first is EPOC. EPOC stands for Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption. Basically what EPOC does is tells us how long it takes the body to return to its pre-exercise metabolic rate. So after a bout of intense exercising your body will continue to burn extra calories for a certain period of time. From a fat loss perspective, the longer the EPOC the better. Some activities like weight training have an EPOC of 30 plus hours. The EPOC for steady state cardio is approximately zero. Yessir, give or take when you step off that treadmill or bike you are done burning calories – done.

You should think of exercising like investing your money. Let say you have a pile of money (you do right?) You are far better off investing it in a high yield account than you are burying it beneath the dog house out back. You want a return on your investment right? The same is true for exercise. If you are going to spend the time, get a high return on your investment and that means a high EPOC. You want to continue to burn extra calories for as long as you can post exercise. There are simply better choices than boring cardio.

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Reason 2

The second reason cardio blows for fat loss is the adaptation factor. Your body is wonderful at adapting to various stresses. In general that is a great thing – it has allowed us to survive and thrive for hundreds of thousands of years as our world has changed. From a fat loss perspective it is a giant pain in the ass. Our bodies adapt to certain exercise quite rapidly, and that can bring fat loss to a halt.

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As your body becomes accustomed to the activity, it becomes more efficient at doing it. With cardio that means that while walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes once burned 500 calories, 3 weeks later it only burns 300 calories. So for the same amount of work you are now burning 200 less calories per session. Sound good? I didn’t think so.

Real World Example

This has been proven in multiple studies but my favorite example is a client that came to see me a few months back. This is an absolutely true story. She was a woman in her 50s who had 30-40 pounds of fat to lose. She began to walk around her neighborhood to lose weight. At first it worked great, but then the weight loss stalled. So she walked more. Then it stalled again, so she walked more again. After she told me this I asked her how much she was currently walking per day. She said 3 hours per day. I kid you not. 3 hours per day. My jaw hit the floor. Can you imagine working out 3 hours per day and seeing no results for your efforts? I have clients who barely do 3 hours per week and have fat falling off them.

Here’s what happened: her body adapted AND there was zero EPOC. So first off the very second she was done walking she was also done burning calories. There was no carry over to the rest of the day, thus no metabolic increase.

Then as she continued to walk day in and day out her body figured out what was going on and made the appropriate adaptations. Initially that meant weight loss. But that did not last long.

So she had to walk more and more for the fat loss to continue. Eventually her body became very good at using fat for fuel – she was an efficient fat burning machine. While this might sound cool, it is most decidedly not cool.

We want our cars to be efficient at using fuel, the less gas we use the better. But since the goal is fat loss we want our bodies to use as much fat for fuel as possible- we want our bodies to be fat Inefficient . Her body was using less fat per unit of time while working out. Not only that, it taught her body to use less fat during the rest of the day too.

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The end result was stalled weight loss. The only method she knew to re-start the weight loss was walking more. But to what end?

There you have it, in a nutshell the reason why at my New Orleans Boot Camps we do not use steady state cardio as a primary fat loss tool.

Now I just spent over 100 words tell you how useless cardio is, but I will say it does have its place in certain fitness programs. But if your main goal is fat loss, steady state cardio should be very low on your to-do list!

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Comments on Why Steady State Cardio Actually Sucks in New Orleans »

May 4, 2010

Becky Cowand @ 7:18 am

Thanks for the great article Jonas!

jonas @ 7:59 am

Hi Becky! your welcome!

Randy @ 10:45 am

Great article as always. I’ll keep this link in mind next time I am trying tell someone the same thing. You’ve spelled it out all right here. Thanks!

jonas @ 12:34 pm

Hey Randy, thanks for the comment! I’m Glad I can help out.

Joslyn @ 5:49 pm

Jonas, excellent article! Just what I needed at this particular time. Your articles are always spot on!!!!!

Pam Gordon @ 7:51 pm

I am an avid walker and this article has really helped change my routine. Thanks so much for sharing. I love your e-mails. I live in Hammond and really hoping to be able to join a boot camp.
Keep them coming !!!

jonas @ 9:42 pm

Joslyn, I’m glad my I knew what you needed! Very cool of you to say!

jonas @ 9:44 pm

Pam, you can also change things with by simply walking up a flight of stairs or a hill

May 26, 2010

Courtney Macbeth @ 1:12 pm

Hi Jonas-
I’m in your bootcamp. So, what is your suggested solution for this? If I am at my gym, are you suggesting that I keep it more like “circuit training”? Aka, do a bit of cardio, then weights, then back to cardio? How can I capitalize on what you are saying? Thanks!

May 27, 2010

jonas @ 3:41 pm

Hi Courtney.

You basically what you want to crank the intensity of the exercise.
For example. If you was doing a elliptical machine.
Sprint fast for 20 seconds followed 10 seconds slow pace and repeat that for 4-5min.
You should be huffing and puffing in no time.

Yes you can also do some cardio moves like jumping jacks followed by a set of squats or pushups ect.

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