So is cardio really necessary? The million dollar question 90% of my personal training clients ask is “Do I need to do cardio?
To learn the scientific stuff about this, scroll midway down the page. First however, I feel I need to give some context into my thought process about why I do cardio.
So I have an absolute Love – Hate relationship with Cardio. Sometimes I love it but most of the times I hate it! I mean, short distance sprints and runs was never a problem for me, but the moment we passed the 400m mark then it always became a problem for me, both physically and mentally growing up.
But things have changed recently. As I finish of today’s cardio session knowing full well I’ve had a 6-pac in the past without any cardio & knowing it’s just a tool to adjust body composition I still continue to do it.
Yes, that’s an appropriate question, especially as I’ve admitted to not really enjoying it.
Well sometimes I think I am wired differently, or just a bit odd. But the real questions are why am I doing something I hate? Why am I forcing myself to struggle? To go through pain and discomfort? Well, the reasons are powerful and are as follows:
1. I quickly realised that doing something that makes you uncomfortable on a daily basis will set your day up from a physical and mindset standpoint. Everything else, within reason is much easier!
2. It benefits my heart. Now who doesn’t want a healthier heart?
3. My clients I coach requested this. It was an odd request at first. But they asked if I could put myself in their shoes and feel their “pain”.
So like I always say, “I’ll never ask anyone else to do what I ain’t willing to do myself!”
4. I made a promise not only to my clients but later made one myself and above all that matters most. I now prioritise all of the above for me.
5. It builds confidence. Think about every time, you said you was going to do something and actually stuck to it. It creates momentum, it creates energy, confidence and pushes you to grow even further.
6. It builds resilience. Our ability to withstand mental and physical pain, over time becomes easier and easier when we put ourselves in that position. It then allows us to handle more pain and more difficult situations down the road.
7. It motivates and inspires people. When my Snapchat or Instagram following see me doing it everyday, its difficult for them to make excuses to me. It is difficult to make excuses when you see other people doing it, with all the same struggles and the same hours in the day.
8. Probably one of the best reasons is that I can kill 2 birds with one stone. (Figuratively speaking). Whilst doing my cardio sessions now, I manage the following:
1. I now respond to all my coaching clients during the hour of cardio, via WhatsApp, voice notes and emails. It makes the time go so much quicker!
2. I produce my content for the week and plan my day ahead. All my posts are usually done on the cardio machine.
3. I educate myself with audible books and podcasts. I can absorb knowledge from the thought leaders in the world whilst also strengthening my heart.
Now that’s some explanations into why you probably see me doing cardio 3-4 times a week, especially more recently.
Science stuff – Fat loss
So, is cardio necessary for fat loss? No.
Can it help? Yes.
But as with anything it all comes down to Thermodynamics. If you need to create a caloric deficit (energy deficit) then cardio can definitely help.
However, you can also create that energy deficit through, exercise, eating fewer calories or other activities.
Science stuff – Health improvement
Here are just a few examples of cardio can benefit your health:
- Improves your cardiovascular health.
- It helps reduce your blood pressure.
- Helps regulate blood sugar.
- Reduce asthma symptoms.
- Boosts your mood.
- Has been proven to help control appetite.
- Can aid with recovery.
- Creates healthy lungs
Now this is just a very quick list of the top of my head, that may or may not motivate you to incorporate some sort of cardio.
If you can implement it, why would you not I guess is my question.
But at the same time it isn’t necessary.
Science stuff – Loss of Muscle
There is also a fear that too much cardio can reduce your gains and kill your muscle. Now, again we have to be conscious of looking at the whole case holistically.
If you are not eating in a maintenance, or surplus and you are not prioritising your protein intake and only doing cardio, yes you risk muscle loss.
But if you are savvy and know what you are doing then you can definitely limit fat loss. Our plans are always designed for sustainability, to allow you to do things consistently.
So without, blabbing on too much it really comes down to preference.
If you enjoy cardio do it, but always be mindful of your overall goals. Irrespective of your health goes, prioritising muscle should always be a key goal. So with this in mind, please prioritise your protein and ensure your nutrition is okay.
If you don’t enjoy it and it really does make you sad then by all means leave it. But know that if you ever reach a time when losing fat is stubborn, you may need to incorporate it. After all, we can lower calories for a certain period, but we can’t do it forever!
My personal take on fitness is that you need to do the following:
- Enjoy it.
- Be consistent with it.
- Make sure its sustainable.
- Work hard on it.
If you can do some of these with cardio implemented, then fantastic. If you can’t then maybe you need to look at alternatives.
Either way, make sure it’s a genuine excuse and your not just being lazy and wasting an opportunity to workout and improve your health.
It won’t get easier as you grow up and as the great quote states:
“If you can’t make time for health now, then get ready to make time for illness later on”
Have an awesome day!