• James Heath

Why I choose moderate cardio to boost fat loss

Updated: Dec 16, 2019

Fat loss and cardiovascular training?

The goal of a fat loss/ body composition program is to loose as much fat as possible (or get to a desired body fat percentage) with minimal loss in muscle tissue. This is achieved by maintaining a consistent daily energy deficit or negative energy balance. Fuel work such as cardiovascular training is arguably an essential part of your fat loss training program because it is a very effective tool for burning additional calories.

Fat loss and resistance training?

You will not burn a huge amount of calories during a typical strength session, especially if lifting heavier and having longer rest periods. The design of your strength training during a fat loss program can be very much the same of a muscle building or mass gaining program. The aim is to provide your body and muscles with a stress response that signals the need to increase strength and muscle.

When in a energy deficit each day, your body is forced to use up it's own energy reserves; a process your body is more then happy to do. Because you're body is set up to use muscle and fat for energy, the signal from your strength training acts as a barrier to muscle loss, This is exactly what body builders do in their competition prep when they reveal their muscular bodies on stage.

Light cardio:

With the risk of oversimplifying the metabolic processes light cardio is anything from walking, brisk walking or slow jogging. The could include easy work on the cardiovascular machines in the gym, playing casual games or sports with your friends or household work and gardening.

As you can see from the graph it will take you longer to burn X amount of calories with light cardio. A 160 Ibs women would have to do 80 minutes of light cardio to burn up 250 calories.

The emphasis with light cardio is simply to get up and be more active. You can plan to do more household chores, walk into town, or around the mall, and play games on the beech. It is a great strategy to burn additional calories in your long term program and will create minimal fatigue. This means you will be able to perform at your best during those strength sessions which you may want to do more frequently (such as 5 or 6 times a week). It will also work nicely with the fact you're eating less and may feel like you have less energy.

However if you're already short on time with work commitments and seeking to burn more calories in less time you may want to consider moderate cardio.

Moderate cardio:

As you can see from the graph the 160 Ibs women would only need to perform 35 minutes of moderate cardio to burn 250 calories. This is less then half the time meaning it is the ideal tool for time strapped people. I run my own business and often feel stretched with the various tasks I must complete on a regular basis. Sometimes I feel that I don't have the luxury of time and therefore aim to get 30 minutes moderate cardio in each day. My fat loss programs sets a weekly target is 2 - 3 hours per week with around 4 hours strength training. Moderate cardio is my go to choice but everyone is different.

Vigorous cardio (HIIT)

Now in terms of calories burnt per hour vigorous cardio is going to burn the most amount of calories in the shortest amount of time. It will also make you incredible fit too. The problem at hand is you may already engaged in strength training that is stressful, intense and damaging to the body. You're body needs to be able to recover from it. If you're then adding vigorous cardio in the form of HIIT training you may have a program for burnout and over-training, especially if work and family demands equally high. The best fat loss program is one that you can finish!

TIP: You can add 5-10 minutes worth of HIIT training or vigorous cardio at the end of each strength training session for a similar effect. Just make sure that session isn't too long (roughly 60 minutes) as you will again run the risk of under recovery and burnout.

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