One of my trainees asked me to do a post on my take on using cardiovascular exercise to burn fat, and I realized that I had not even posted anything on the topic. Thanks, John.
I have three main thoughts on fat-burning cardio, the first two of which were proven by my own experience…
…but before going into that, let me first say that a healthy diet is absolutely KEY if you want to lose the fat you need to lose. Unless you are like Olympic Swimmer Michael Phelps and work out 6 hours or so a day, it is very hard to burn off what you eat. Now, to my three main thoughts.
- Running – Running is a great way to lose weight, especially when you build up a solid routine of doing so. I ran track in high school, which required practice 4-5 days a week at 2 hours per practice. Let’s just say we did a lot of running. In recent years I have run 5K races from time to time. When I build up to running 30 minutes 5 days a week, the weight starts falling off. Remember though…you have to build up to that.
- Basketball – Now basketball is my favorite way of losing weight. It is fun, which takes away the idea that you are actually exercising. It is also very intense, especially if you play full court. Last year I had a routine of playing two days a week, 2 hours each time. The effects were tremendous. The stop-and-go nature of basketball makes it particularly effective with burning fat off. If basketball is not your thing, consider any other stop-and-go type activities you enjoyed in younger years (i.e. Tennis, Soccer, Volleyball)
- Walking – I have not personally used walking to lose weight, but I read an article some years ago by a lady named Dr. Martica Heaner. Anytime I look for the article now I cannot find it, but she said that in order for a moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, to be effective for maintaining current body weight levels, one must perform the exercise 150 minutes per week minimum (30 minutes 5 days a week). In order for the exercise to be effective for losing weight, one must engage in the activity for at least 250-300 minutes (50-60 minutes each session, 5 days a week). I am curious about this and believe it could work. Later this year my church will be having a walking challenge and I believe I will be recommending this as a guideline.
So there it is. This is my current opinion on using cardio to lose weight. Again, diet is key. Also, you should use some strength training to maintain (or build) muscle as well. You do not want to lose muscle in the process (see my past article on bodyweight fitness).