Cardio: The Most Misundertood of Fitness Terms | Print |  E-mail
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Thursday, 15 March 2012 14:12






By Mitch Rothbardt



Cardio. There’s not be a more misunderstood word in the fitness world.

What does it mean? Well, the strict definition is “exercise involving the heart and blood vessels.” So, I guess if your heart beats during the exercise then it’s “cardio,” right? Of course, if your heart doesn’t beat during an exercise then you’re kind of dead, so I guess that means that everything is cardio!


OK, I’m being silly. Basically, what most people mean when they say “cardio” is exercise that gets your heart beating faster, probably for the general goal of losing weight or getting in “better shape.” Something like running on a treadmill for 30 minutes.


If this is what you’re currently doing to lose weight or get “in shape” then I’m going to politely ask you to stop, because it doesn’t work and it’s actually hurting you. Now, I’m not saying you should never go on a long hike to enjoy nature but, again, if your primary reason for doing this is to get “in shape” or lose weight, please stop.

Here’s why. The body adapts to things. When you first start out going for your runs your body might be burning 400 calories an hour. Do that for a few weeks and your body gets more efficient at running. Now it burns 350 calories an hour. You can do the math from there.

Now what happens to the fat that you desperately want to lose? Well, the body burns less and less of it. Your metabolism slows trying to keep your heart rate down so you can run longer and, to be more efficient, (notice a trend here?) your body burns muscle instead of fat. That drives your metabolism down even lower which means less and less fat loss which means a whole lot of work for the exact opposite of what you want.

What happens next? Now it’s getting good.

What would you do if you came to me for training and I told you we were going to do a high impact exercise for about 3,500 reps? You’d probably leave and never come back. The thing is, that’s exactly what you’re doing every time you run a mile. So add high impact, high rep exercise to less and less muscle on your frame and we get injuries. Knee pain, back pain, ankle and foot problems just for starters.

So, let’s run down the list of what most people’s version of “cardio” is doing for them:

1. Making them a more efficient runner. (Again, if you’re trying to lose weight you do not want this.)

2. Burning fewer calories for more work.

3. Burning lean body instead of fat.

4. Slowing your metabolism.

5. Causing injuries.

I’m not trying to sound overly harsh but I just hate to see a lot of hard work resulting in people thinking that exercise doesn’t work.

If you want a cardio training program that does work just go to Have a great day!



Mitch Rothbardt is a Certified Personal Trainer who offers weight-loss programs, bootcamps and individual training for all fitness levels and budgets. Reach him at 510-754-7113 or by email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it




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