Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Low Intensity Cardio Thoughts



Here are a few thoughts I have on Low Intensity (Gym) Cardio.

I'm not talking about going out for a walk, bike ride, etc to enjoy some fresh air outside. I'm talking about going to the gym to either walk on the treadmill, spin on the bike, or elliptical and work at a low intensity for the primary purpose to burn extra calories and lose fat.

Someone just sent me over their training routine and it included some nightly cardio.  Here are a few thoughts I have on the subject (as it relates to fat loss)...

  • I think there's enough research out there that has demonstrated you can't out train a bad diet. So to make best use of your time get your diet in line first. 
  • I like the idea of doing something active every day... anything. And if it means going to the gym to do low intensity cardio will keep you from sitting home bored, watching tv, over eating, etc. Then I'm all for it. But if you have more productive things to do with your life that don't put you in the psychological state of eating in excess, that would probably be more worth your time.
  • From a training efficiency stand point, there are much more worth while things you can be doing with your time that will have a longer lasting impact on your metabolism... ie. resistance training, and higher intensity interval style training (plenty of information on this site about the two)
  • Bodybuilders have been using low intensity walking for years to preserve muscle tissue and burn a few extra calories from fat. To them I say, "If it isn't broke, don't fix it".  But, keep in mind they are in the extreme category where .25-1% impact in overall daily calories make a huge difference in competition. For everyone else that doesn't have 2-4 hours of time to dedicate to training each day, choose the exercises and intensity that's going to give you a little more bang out of your buck.  
  • If you're performing it with a purpose of improving some other aspect of your fitness, then its a good thing.  For example, Yoga is low intensity, you'll burn some calories but it also improves your flexibility and balance, and depending on your training history some general strength as well. You get a little more out of that, then mindless cycling in a gym environment.  
  • Circling back to the second bullet... if on occasion you've got some reading or TV watching to do, and you need to get some exercise in anyway, then have at it. You're making good use of your time, by doing two things at once. 
  • Getting outside for a walk, bike, swim has multi purpose so I like that too. 

In Summary:
I'm not ragging on Low Intensity Cardio at all... But, you only have so many hours in a day/week.  Just make sure you think through your goal, and determine if what you're doing is the best use of your time.  There are plenty of shorter workouts on this site that will help to accomplish what most people are after (additional calorie burning) in a fraction of the time.

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