Cardio can be an effective tool but do you know when to use cardio to accelerate fat loss?
More often than not you will enter any gym and see many people from the beginners to advanced, grinding away for 30-60min+ at a manageable pace 5-7 days a week with the goal of fat loss in mind.
Cardio most definitely has its place for fat loss whether that be low-intensity steady state cardio (LISS) or high intensity interval training (HIIT) but many do not know why they are actually doing cardio in the first place and what effect it is having on their goal of fat loss. They just simply know that cardio burns calories so therefor body fat will reduce, right, WRONG!
Cardio, ‘when the goal is body fat reduction’, should be used as a tool and a tool only. Knowing when to use this tool is the difference between losing muscle mass or losing body fat. If you combine cardio with resistance training then focus most of your time and effort on resistance training as this has been shown to be far more effective at burning calories than any form of cardio. Once you know you are giving it everything in the gym and your calorie controlled diet is on point you can then start to look at introducing one to three 20-40min (Liss or HIIT) sessions per week to accelerate fat loss before looking to reduce calories.
If you introduce one cardio session and you drop 0.5 – 1.5lbs that week then continue for the next week until you see progress has halted again to where you can introduce a second cardio session and so on. You could continue this method until you are up to 5 cardio sessions a week (2 LISS 3 HIIT is recommended). Once you are grinding out 3-5 cardio sessions a week and resistance training regularly you can then look to make a calorie adjustment (depending on your personal requirements this adjustment can be between 100-300 calories a day) to which you will also reverse the amount of cardio you are doing down to just 1 session a week to see what impact the calorie adjustment has on your progress that week. If you see no movement then re-introduce a second cardio session and again follow this process up to 5 cardio sessions a week before making another calorie adjustment.
This principle has been shown to be very effective at keeping your calories higher for longer while still maintaining a calorie deficit and reducing body-fat.
If your goal is cardiovascular fitness for example sports then of cause factor this calorie expenditure into your calorie requirements to ensure you are not unnecessarily missing out on those extra calories.