Tips and Advice For Cardio Beginners

Most people looking to start their fat loss journey will start by hopping on some sort of cardio equipment everyday after work.

There are also people on the other end of the spectrum that swear by the idea that you can lose weight without doing ANY cardio at all. Getting your nutrition on point and a good resistance training program is more than enough to elicit fat loss.

Which is true, I’ve had plenty of clients go through fat loss phases without adding any additional cardio to their program. The only cardiovascular work they had was in their strength training sessions (it’s not technically classified as “cardio” but your cardiovascular system will get worked depending on the programming).

However, these same people committed to dialing in their nutrition and 5-6 days a week of strength training. For some people, this is what works best. By finding a structure they can follow week after week they are able to create the results they’re looking for.

I happen to fall on the other end of the spectrum with this. See, I love food, I’m a fat kid at heart. By that I mean I love eating more than I should sometimes and that makes it kind of hard to manage since maintaining abs is my current goal.

So for me, instead of cutting calories, adding in cardio becomes my way of creating a calorie deficit. This way I can still enjoy my flexible food choices while maintaining the aesthetic I set out to achieve.

Now, If you’re someone that has a lot of calories to work with because of your healthy and fast metabolism then by all means do not do cardio as long as you can – remember, with fat loss sacrificing LESS for MORE is always better. We want to implement what I like to call the minimal effective dose to create change and avoid metabolic adaptation.

These are all good reasons to add in cardio but there’s more to it than just burning calories and being able to eat more!

Why You Should Do Cardio

Above all else cardio is key to improving your overall health, and this goes beyond fat loss.

Yes, losing fat and improving your body composition is a major determinant of your life longevity, hormonal health, gym performance, quality of life, and more. However, you NEED to be healthy overall or you won’t achieve the body, lifestyle, or longevity you’re looking for.

After all, we’re doing this whole fitness thing to improve your quality of life, so you’re not having trouble moving around, so you can engage in the activities you want to do, and enjoy being there for your family! So we want to make sure that everything we implement into our life helps us reach that goal.

Cardio alone helps to strengthen our heart and lungs, recovery (muscle tissue, nervous system, etc.), reduce stress, reduce risk of heart disease and types of cancer, improve metabolic rate, increase our bone density, could improve sleep, manage cholesterol levels, and obviously help with weight loss (which weight loss in itself has a massive list of health benefits to take advantage of).

Just as with everything else in this world though, there is such a thing as too much cardio. More isn’t always better, so we need to find the balance that works for you.

How Much Cardio You Should Do

I recognize that there are all kinds of people with all kinds of goals reading this article from wanting to lose 5 pounds, or 50 pounds, trying to gain some muscle mass, or just trying to live healthier so the needs will vary.

However, EVERYONE, no matter your goal, should work on moving daily. That means looking to get in 8k-12k steps per day. This is foundational to a healthy lifestyle and strong metabolism.

The human body is designed to move well and move often. Technology has been working to make our lives easier though and as a result having us move less unfortunately. So, if you need to get up for a mid-day walk, park further away from the door, or start taking the stairs more – do it!

Want to be healthier? This alone will help.

Want to lose weight? This alone will burn more calories (between 1500-3500 more depending on who you are!)

Want to get big and gain muscle mass? This will help optimize your recovery so you can train harder and more often. It also helps eliminate excess body fat which is proven to burn more calories!

[At the end of the day, everyone is still individual so even though this article does break down everything you need to know to plug in for yourself – sometimes there’s more to fat loss and seeing awesome results, than simply adding cardio. Click Here for a Free Strategy Call where we can break down what you specifically need to see the results you’re looking for. ]

Now that we know what EVERYONE should be walking somewhere between 8k-12k steps per day, let’s break this down a step further for our fat loss specific readers. (Again, I want to emphasize, before adding in your cardio make sure you’re hitting your steps, thats already a small addition in itself.)

Before we get into recommendations we need to define the different types of cardio that’s out there.

LISS – Low Intensity Steady State. With LISS Cardio you are maintaining a relatively slow pace for a set amount of time.

MISS – Moderate Intensity Steady State. With MISS Cardio you are maintaining a relatively moderate pace for a set amount of time.

HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training. HIIT cardio is when you alternate between an all out pace for a set amount of time, followed by a Moderate/Slow pace to recover, and repeating this for a set number of rounds.

We won’t really reference MISS in this article because it’s not as plug and play friendly but I felt I should mention it for your general knowledge. Now that we know what all of the cardio acronyms stand for, we need to define intensity. Intensity is an individual term and means different things to different people but is based on your heart rate. Check out the image below to see where your heart rate should be for each intensity. You can calculate your Max Heart Rate simply by using the equation:

220 – (Your Age) = Max Heart Rate

Since I don’t know anything about you – the reader – I can’t give a 100% sure-fire recommendation for how much cardio you should be doing.

What I can say is that you should be doing it weekly and likely at a rate of 1-6x per week. I know, big range, but let’s break it down and see how we can schedule this for you.

3Ă—30 Min LISS Per Week For Fat Loss

5Ă—15 Min LISS Per Week For Post Workout Recovery/Fat Loss

4Ă—20 Min LISS Per Week For Post Workout Recovery/Fat Loss

3Ă—5 HIIT Intervals Per Week For Fat Loss/Performance

2Ă—30 Min LISS + 2x 5 HIIT Intervals Per Week For Fat Loss

6Ă—20 Min Daily Walk Outside For Meditative/Fat Loss

10Ă—10-15 Min Pre (5) and Post Workout (5) LISS Warm Up/Cool Down

As you can see, there is a butt-load of ways that you can implement into your training program. There is no one-way to do this, cardio is cardio and they’re all beneficial.

If you’re looking to plug cardio into your workout I would definitely suggest starting small and working your way up. Again, we want to add in the minimal effective dose to see results, the less we can do to see more results, the better.

What Type Of Cardio Is Right For You?

Both.

The simple answer is always both and always will be both. No matter your goal, doing both is going to provide the biggest benefit from a health, performance, and health perspective.

In fact, LISS works best when done as a compliment to HIIT and HIIT works best to compliment LISS.

It’s important to recognize that the body is a very adaptive species and is constantly striving to achieve homeostasis. This means that it wants to adapt and stay the same. The body really doesn’t like change, meaning it doesn’t want to lose body fat OR build muscle (I know, stupid body).

Why is that important? Well if you were to do the same 30 min LISS session 3 days/week , week after week, the body will start to adapt to it and become more efficient at performing that task. Which sounds like a good thing but we actually want to be inefficient when we do cardio! The body becoming more efficient means it starts to burn LESS calories to do the same task! Which is great from a survival perspective but not what we want when we’re looking to burn fat.

So, when we look at the long-term, it’s always best to do both so we can keep the body from adapting, but the exact split varies depending on your goal.

Health: 50/50 split

Fat Loss: 60/40 – 70/30 HIIT/LISS split. HIIT gets more calorie burn for the time spent on it and also has a lot of variety in the way it can be done as well! You can manipulate intervals, equipment, sets, reps, etc.

With that being said, if all you’ve done for the last year has been HIIT for your cardio, I would suggest the same 60/40 -70/30 split but in reverse.

In my experience, when someone only does HIIT cardio for a long period of time adding in some LISS does wonders for breaking plateaus and burning extra body fat. Not to mention it gives your body extra recovery benefits – which is probably the reason you stopped seeing results in the first place, not enough recovery.

Building Muscle: It depends…

If you’re using cardio as a tool to recover or improve your health then I would suggest adding a LISS session to the end of your training sessions for 10-30 minutes. This will manage how much fat you gain while you’re looking to gain muscle.

If you’re using cardio in order to burn fat or keep as much fat off as you can – especially if you struggle with staying lean – then I would probably recommend 2-3 HIIT intervals per week as a post workout finisher or on it’s own day while maintaining those 8-12k daily steps we talked about earlier.

What Cardio Shouldn’t You Do?

This is a simple one, but one that bears repeating because so many people don’t always listen to their body.

If doing a certain type of cardio hurts, aches, creates pain, or causes dysfunction, or is something you just generally don’t like or hate with a passion then DON’T DO IT!

I don’t care what celebrity does it, which IG model swears by it, or what you heard about it! If doing it just straight up hurts – DON’T DO IT!

Jogging outside causes your knees to ache after a couple minutes? DON’T DO IT

Hopping on the rower gives your elbows a weird ache? DON’T DO IT

Jump Roping makes your feet or ankles hurt? DON’T DO IT

Using the stairmaster makes you sad? DON’T DO IT

There is nothing to be gained from putting your body through pain (outside of the muscle burning of lactic acid build up), find something you enjoy and doesn’t cause you pain. That’s it.

Conclusion

Cardio is one of those topics in the fitness industry that you can ask 10 people about and get 10 different answers. Everyone has their opinion on it but at the end of the day, it all works.

What science tells us and anecdotal experience of hundreds of people just like and me proves, is that LISS and HIIT are both beneficial not just for fat loss but recovery and health benefits as well!

So in my opinion – and hopefully yours after reading this – we all should be doing a little bit of both.

If you’re still stuck with your results, can’t seem to figure out how to program all this, nutrition is the actual problem, and/or you would like to experience what REAL Accountability and Association is like and can do to transform your physique – Click Here Now and hop on a Free Strategy Call with me within 24 hours.

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