We need to quit chasing a high-cardio calorie burn and focus on being active instead. Here’s why:
Cardio time! I truly enjoy being active and my body loves to move, but I only use cardio strategically about eight to ten weeks before a show. Otherwise I weight train consistently year round and stay really active and move vs. trying to “calorie burn” my way to a smaller scale weight and leanness.
Did you know that the body will quickly adapt to cardio and figure you out? Initially, the scale may move, but after about four weeks adaptation occurs and you will keep needing more and more to get a positive response, also making a negative hormonal impact at that point and beyond.
I see folks at the gym on the same equipment day in and day out and they simply don’t change, in fact they may be getting heavier. My heart aches for those doing cardio all the time. Don’t take this as people doing cardio in general, but rather those who are on this pattern of going for more and more to get results, using cardio as their only form of activity. The purpose of this post is to say we need to stop tracking “exercise” to a calorie equivalent. Getting on a machine routinely for long duration time frames, doing ongoing long runs, or multiple long-minute group exercise classes a week can back fire and set you back in progress and results due to the HORMONAL factor you don’t see or quantify and here is why, as heard in Scott Abel’s podcast notes below:
“You cannot math your way thin or to sustainable leanness. When you get on those machines and chase a calorie burn, you can’t address the hormonal and metabolic <de>optimization factor.
It should not be about burning fat or calories. There are other things going on below the surface that are more important, like enhancing biochemical pathways and nurturing optimum metabolic and hormonal function, which strength and resistance training does far superior to cardio, as proven time and again in studies.
With focusing on ‘breaking down tissue and burning calories’ in cardio, you actually are doing the opposite of what you set out to do. We instead need to focus on optimizing tissues and building them up.”
-Scott Abel, “Smarter Sculpted Physique” Podcast
My personal note: In my early days I was a cardio bunny. I watched my heart rate monitor to get the calorie burn number up, up, up. The more I burned, the more I would lose, correct? Not so! I see gals entering their calorie expenditure into the popular “My Fitness Pal” app and it’s common knowledge to think that if I burned 300 calories in a class or 500 calories running or 1500 calories training for my marathon, then I should lose that amount in body weight.
It’s just not linear like that. What we are NOT seeing is the hormonal impact from the stress of the long-duration cardio on the body. This is NOT a judgment on cardio or someone choosing to use a machine. This is an awareness to the science of what is also happening when we choose to use large amounts of quantity and duration of cardiovascular exercise as the main staple of training and activity. There is more to the picture than the calorie report on the machine!