Fat Loss Fouls: 4 Cardio Mistakes You Might Be Making

You may dislike cardio, but don’t treat it as an afterthought! Make a good plan of attack and win the war on fat.

You spent hour after hour planning out your weightlifting program. You sought out the latest information, researched the latest and best programs, and when you got to the gym, you attacked every muscle fiber from the optimal angle.

But when it comes to cardio? Bah. Cardio is cardio. It's a necessary evil you toss in at the end of a workout, and the specific variety doesn't matter so much. What matters is what's on TV while you do it. Right?

Sadly, this mindset leads many people astray. Not only are they not doing the most effective cardio training they could be, but they also put themselves at risk for overuse injuries and muscle loss. On the other hand, if you stay mindful of both the quantity and quality of the cardio you do, and it can make all the difference in your energy level and appearance.

Let's go over some of the top cardio training mistakes many weightlifters make, so you can make sure you don't follow in their footsteps.

Mistake 1 /// Never Incorporating Variety

When it comes to cardio—perhaps even more so than weights—every person tends to have their favorite and least favorite piece of equipment. Maybe you're a runner at heart and head for the treadmill with joy. Or perhaps you wear a "Running Sucks" T-shirt and favor cycles, the elliptical machine, or the stairclimber instead. Whichever implement you choose, you most likely return to it day-in and day-out.

If your goal is to improve your performance in preparation of the first annual World Championships of Stair Climbing, this is a great plan. On the other hand, if your plan is to see fat loss or overall fitness improvement taking place, you'd likely benefit from mixing it up a little.

As your body gets used to the movement patterns it performs on a regular basis, it gets better at them. This means you won't expend the same degree of energy as before. Adding some variety keeps your body guessing, so you can continue to see results.

You wouldn't perform the same weight routine for months on end, would you? Of course not. So don't do the same with your cardio.

Mistake 2 /// Doing Interval Training Fasted

[Sound of alarm clock] Good morning world! No breakfast for me, thanks. I'm off to do hill sprints!

Whoa, slow down there. You probably heard by now that fasted cardio training first thing in the morning is excellent for fat loss, and that interval training generally beats out steady-state cardio training. Put two and two together and it's sure to be the most unbeatable cardio program ever, right?

Unfortunately, it doesn't always work this way. Most bodies need to have glucose to burn as fuel in order to exercise at such high-intensity levels. For them, attempting fasted sprints is a recipe for disaster. Not only will their performance suffer, but they also set themselves up for lean muscle loss.

Some low-carb advocates will argue that athletes whose bodies are in a state of ketosis—and well-adapted to it—can train at high-intensity without any performance setbacks. That may be true, but the rest of us should keep fasted cardio to moderate intensity levels.

Mistake 3 /// Relying on Cardio Training to Create the Deficit

This may not be news to you, as a Bodybuilding.com reader, but many in the gym-going population at-large need it to be repeated. So here goes: Cardio is not enough!

Many people figure that since cardio is difficult and it makes them sweat, it's all they need in order to create the caloric deficit necessary for fat loss. By this rationale, they do more and more cardio, figuring each minute is one minute they don't have to spend watching what they eat.

This is a great way to overtrain your body and simply become exhausted. Remember, the body can only handle so much intense exercise of any type. Then it needs time to recover. Otherwise, you'll suffer overuse injuries, burnout, your sleep and immune system could suffer, and you may lose muscle mass as well.

A tip: If you "have to" do an hour or more of cardio per day just to burn off the extra calories you consumed, the answer is to look at your diet. You can spend all day on the treadmill and never outrun your bad choices.

Mistake 4 /// Using Light Weights During Cardio Workouts

Ever watch someone perform their cardio workout while holding 2- or 5-pound dumbbells or tiny little wrist weights? Of course you have. There they are, doing their biceps curls, lateral raises, and overhead presses, all while running, jumping, or convulsing in some other way.

You deserve better! These movements do little to strengthen the muscles you're trying to work, and the measly calories you burn aren't worth the time it takes to pick them up off the ground.

Are they harmful? Probably not, but they take away from the intensity you could otherwise be applying to far more effective cardio or weight training.

One exception to this rule may be for those who like—if that's the right word—to wear weighted vests while running or performing other cardio. Since this evenly distributes weight over the body and doesn't require any additional movement, a weighted vest can increase your cardio fitness level and caloric expenditure.

However, you need to be pretty tough and already in shape in order to use it properly and safely. Don't rush it.


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About The Author

I’ve been working in the field of exercise science for the last 8 years. I’ve written a number of online and print articles.

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BigMiniBaby

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BigMiniBaby

I wish I could show this to about 70% of my local fitness center's regular members.

Mar 21, 2013 5:43pm | report
 
Titt

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Titt

Don�t waste time brah, let them do their thing and concentrate on your own way :)

Mar 22, 2013 6:48am | report
xrizzox

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xrizzox

totally agree esp with the last point

Mar 25, 2013 4:03pm | report
KrishnaAhire

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KrishnaAhire

Exactly. I am agree with Titt's statement. If you show this to them, May be half of them will not trust on this.
So just do it for yourself, let others do what they are doing.

Jun 6, 2014 3:27am | report
itsJustAROD

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itsJustAROD

good information right here thanks!

Mar 21, 2013 5:48pm | report
 
CitizenCL

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CitizenCL

This article should be attached to every treadmill, bike, elliptical at my gym. Ladies, pick up some weights!

Mar 21, 2013 6:04pm | report
 
JoeClements

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JoeClements

Too true!

Mar 22, 2013 11:53am | report
circledotx

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circledotx

100% agree!

Mar 22, 2013 12:40pm | report
Experiencaholic

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Experiencaholic

I used to be the cardio queen myself and once I was introduced to the weights, I've really started seeing some results! Not to mention I am addicted to the iron!!

Mar 22, 2013 2:20pm | report
Caveburn

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Caveburn

Very true !

Mar 22, 2013 4:39pm | report
mommywithmuscle

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mommywithmuscle

LOL!!

A few of those things mentioned....I DID...now I feel silly!

Mar 21, 2013 6:51pm | report
 
drpotorro

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drpotorro

Nobody is born wise ;-)

May 7, 2013 5:41pm | report
tazmanian75

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tazmanian75

what a good article...thanks for the info..

Mar 21, 2013 6:57pm | report
 
MikeyD24

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MikeyD24

I still do not understand how doing cardio on an empty stomach isn't the best way. Bodybuliders only do cardio this way for the most part. A lot of articles on here are very good and some are contradicting.

Mar 21, 2013 7:12pm | report
 
EDRob44

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EDRob44

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't it point specifically to HIIT style cardio? I believe it said steady-state cardio was optimal for fasted cardio. Let me know what you think - I'm working my *** of here to get my bf down to where you're at! :p What kind of cardio routine to you use to get where you're at?

Mar 21, 2013 8:25pm | report
Dracid

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Dracid

it said interval cardio because it's more intense

Mar 21, 2013 8:30pm | report
MikeyD24

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MikeyD24

I'm sorry I didn't see that my fault. EDRob44 I honestly don't do any cardio lol. Just lifting. I'll be doing cardio in a couple months before my contest though. How's your diet, cutting carbs? If you have any questions feel free to message me.

Mar 21, 2013 8:35pm | report
lucia316

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lucia316

Meet protein macro, muscle loss won't happen.

If truly concerned, use BCAAs while training fasted on a cut. This is the only time BCAAs have been shown to be of value.

This is bunk.

Mar 25, 2013 10:17am | report
cohibaiii

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cohibaiii

Good info

Mar 21, 2013 7:14pm | report
 
ealionhandley

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ealionhandley

interesting. I do my HIIT in morning what should I consume if I should eat something once wake up

Mar 21, 2013 8:12pm | report
 
Jacklyn007

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Jacklyn007

I do HIIT in the morning as well and I eat 1/4 cup of oatmeal with 1/2 cup of Strawberries or 2 peices of toast with peanut butter and Strawberries. Both get the job done, but oatmeal has never let me down.

Mar 22, 2013 7:29pm | report
Dracid

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Dracid

So many people at my gym need to read this. I look at their time and they are at 45 minutes and i'm just like wow.....

Mar 21, 2013 8:18pm | report
 
Experiencaholic

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Experiencaholic

I used to do 8 miles on the elliptical and no weights!! I was introduced to the iron about 5 months ago and wow I am in love!! Plus I was naturally strong so I've seen huge gains once I became confident in the technique!!

Mar 22, 2013 2:21pm | report
Oyoursexi

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Oyoursexi

Everything for the most part is good, except for mistake 2 in the list. Thats a bunch of bull!@#$ Most people have heard of Intermittent Fasting by now and it's a great tool to lose fat and maintain muscle. Unless your a frickin carb junkie and you need carbs just to get out of bed in the morning, cardio while fasted is great.

Mar 21, 2013 8:19pm | report
 
isaacs117

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isaacs117

Not any type of cardio, she is talking about high intensity interval training (hiit). In order for the body to burn fat in must realize that it has time to break down the fat stores. Expending a large amount of energy in a short time doesn't give the body enough time to realize this, so it turns to our muscles which are a faster and easier energy source.

Mar 21, 2013 10:47pm | report
Showing 1 - 25 of 83 Comments

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