Fitness Myths #6 – Need Cardio For Fat Loss

Cash me on the treadmill

How bow dah

Jk … We know that’s not happening. My relationship with treadmills, stair masters or any cardio equipment for that matter is my relationship with avoiding donutsIt’s on a last resort basis. However, there are individuals out there that have unfortunately been brainwashed to believe that doing cardio keeps them lean or it is what they need to lose fat.

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Well this article is here to inform everyone that that is not the case. Cardio should be a supplemental tool on the road to fat loss. Not a cornerstone of any fat loss plan.

(This article does not apply to those brave souls that truly enjoy cardio – keep calm and carry on)

It’s crazy to think about my cardio progression from my 1st show to my second show and to my 3rd show. I literally went from 45 to 55 minute sessions 4-5x per week at about 8-10 weeks out. To a high of about 35 minutes 4-5x at about 2 weeks out during my last show. Do you know how much time that is saved? Time spent doing other productive things?! Time spent not doing cardio?! (long sighhhhhhh) ​


There is 3 years of learning stuffed in between that progression along with some wise guidance from a mentor (looking at you George). All of that made me appreciate the power that cardio can have but also appreciate my new found lack of dependance on cardio to be lean/shredded.

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As a quick refresher, the magical equation to losing weight/getting lean/burning fat is Calories In vs Calories Out. At it’s core, this is the bare minimum we need to do in order to lose weight. However… as we’ve mentioned before, we sometimes hit fat loss plateaus. We offer a long list of solutions and cardio makes the list at a mere 20 minute HIIT session to help spark that fat loss.

Moral of the story here again is that YOU DO NOT NEED CARDIO TO LOSE WEIGHT. 

Are you giving 110% during your training? Is your diet locked in? Are you getting sufficient sleep? Do you have patience? If you answered NO to any or all of those questions then I command you to let go of the treadmill on an incline walk. Step away from the elliptical. We need to turn those “No’s” into “Yes”. 

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For perhaps your most important muscle – your heart – cardio has a fundamental beneficial purpose. But the frequency should be here and there, definitely not every day.

From the perspective of all of your other muscles, cardio can actually be a killer. There are numerous studies out there that show that extended, frequent bouts of low intensity cardio can waste away your hard earned muscle. And what have we learned about muscle? The more muscle you have the more donuts you can eat … errr … I mean food. Increased muscle mass can actually boost your metabolism allowing you to increase your food intake.

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Additionally, studies have shown that weight training can have an up to 36 hour boost on the metabolism. Your low intensity incline walking or light jogs or slow ass walking on the stairmaster does just does not have the same benefit.

This is thanks to HIIT’s EPOC effect (Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption). A 15 minute HIIT session can burn up to 250 calories, which is great. But because of the intensity, your body will continue burning calories for up to 36 hours post session. This can bring your calorie burn well north of 400 calories. Effective and time efficient.

Ok Dan, thanks for showing me the light. So what do you recommend?

  • Weight train. Focus on compound exercises such as Squats and deadlifts. Building your physique up will allow you to reap benefits now and well into the future
  • Get your diet nailed. I mean dialed in. As the saying goes, “You can not outwork a bad diet.” Understanding nutrition is fundamental to a long lasting fitness protocol
  • Get sleep. We go over this here. I know 8 hours a night can be unrealistic for many of us nowadays. But 6 hours I think should be non-negotiable.
  • HIIT Cardio. 2x per week at no more than 20 minutes per session. This means all out effort. Don’t cheat yourself
  • Lastly, if you need to have a conversation or discuss further, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We love helping people succeed and achieve their goals.

Now go out there and find some new things to do with your newfound time.

10 thoughts

    1. Well there’s HIIT and LISS, right? Both are cardio and both have their place. But neither is essential to weight loss. Just supplemental tools. However, HIIT is certainly more effective and more forgiving on your time

  1. 2 questions:

    1) is walking in the city, to get places as a mode of transportation up to 4h+ considered “cardio”? Is there a minimal HR at which it is considered cardio?

    2) The more muscle mass a person has the more they burn fat. If a person has a low body fat % but is not particularly heavy will they still butn fat at the same rate as if they were a few body fat percentages higher with the same amount (lbs) of lean muscle mass ?

    1. Thanks for the comment. I’m assuming your HR is elevating past the point of being stationary, so then yes it’s one form of cardio. Target HR will depend on age and other factors but you can shoot for 90-150 during your programmed cardio.

      Someone at a lower BF will burn fat at a lower rate than someone at a higher BF given the fact that there is less to play with. From experience once I get to those lower BF levels, everything needs to be dialed in to continue fat loss

      1. Hmmm ok. I’m at 10% now. I’m not looking to lose or gain but just interested in knowing how it works since I did not intentionally get this low (I’m a woman). My RH is 40-45 so its hard to get to 90 even…!

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