How Often Should I Do Cardio to Lose Weight?
The man who has weak knees may not be able to run, but he would have no problem swimming. The lady who is only 10 pounds overweight could start off with high-intensity cardio sessions 3 times a week, whereas the obese lady who is 50 pounds overweight will not be able to handle such high-intensity training. She’d be better off walking for 30 minutes, twice a day – daily.
Tailoring your cardio to suit your fitness level is crucial to seeing benefits. If you’re obese or overweight to the point that high-intensity interval training is too much for you to handle, that’s perfectly fine. You can stick to slow, conventional cardio and still burn fat.
• Intensity and volume
It’s important to note that the higher the intensity of your cardio sessions, the shorter the workout needs to be and the fewer times you need to work out a week.
For example, a man who engages in Tabata protocol only needs to do it for 4 minutes. Yes, only 4 minutes. Basically, that’s sprinting for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest. This is done 8 times for a total of 4 minutes.
It may not seem like much, but it’s an excruciatingly difficult workout because of the level of intensity involved. It will put your body in fat-burning mode for hours! Here’s the best part – you only need to do it twice or three times a week. It’s that potent.
• Do what you can manage
If you can’t handle such hard workouts, you can always just walk on the treadmill for 45 minutes to an hour daily. You’ll need to do it 5 or 6 times a week, if possible. As you get fitter, you could do 45 minutes in the morning, followed by 45 minutes in the evening.
Because the intensity is low, you’ll need volume in your workout regimen. Ultimately, the goal is to slowly lose weight and get fitter so that you can take on the more challenging workouts.
Going slow does not mean that you can’t make it challenging. If you’re using a treadmill, set it at an incline. If you’re walking outside, head for the hills. You can even wear ankle weights or carry a backpack with a phone book or some other weight in it to add resistance to your workout and make it more challenging.
At the end of the day, the goal is to make measurable progress in a reasonable time. Do not engage in more than 60 minutes of cardio at a time. It’s better to do two 45-minutes sessions spread over the day rather than 1 long 90-minute walk.
Long cardio sessions tax the body and can create injuries, cramps, etc. Training to lose weight is very different from training like an athlete. Most people’s goals are to go from flab to fab… and you can only do that in stages.
Take the slow approach until you can go fast, and by the time you’re fast, you’ll find the determination to go hard… and then you’ll be ready to train like an athlete so that you look like one. Give it time and always remember, “Slow, steady progress is better than fast, daily excuses.” Stay strong.
Compound Exercises VS Ab Exercises: Which are Better for a Flat Belly?
Let’s see why.
• More calories burned
The key to getting a flat belly is to lose weight. More specifically, you want to lose fat. When you do exercises such as squats, lat pulldowns, dips, etc. these compound exercises work for several muscle groups at the same time.
What that means is your body is doing more work and burning more calories. Ab exercises will not burn as many calories as deadlifts because more weight is being lifted and your body is recruiting the larger muscles in your back and legs.
Overall, that means more work done, more calories burned and greater fat loss which will lead to a flatter belly.
• Builds lean muscle
Compound exercises will help your body to retain and build lean muscle all over. Since you’re usually training harder with compound exercises, your body will be forced to develop more muscle to cope with the demands you’re placing upon it.
This is one reason why you shouldn’t trust the weight on the scale during the first month or so when you’re embarking on a weight loss journey. During this time, your body is fully capable of losing fat and gaining muscle as it quickly tries to adapt and cope.
On the scale, muscle gain will offset the fat loss and the numbers will not show much difference and you’ll be misled into thinking that your efforts are yielding no fruit. In reality, you’re making good progress and should keep going.
By building lean muscle, your appearance will be more chiseled and toned. Losing weight alone is not enough. You should look good after the weight loss. Compound exercises will have you looking like a Greek god or goddess after the excess fat comes off.
• Boosts your metabolism
The more muscle you gain, the higher your resting metabolic rate will be. Since muscle is more calorically expensive, you’ll be burning more calories at any given time.
This will make it easier for you to keep off whatever fat you’ve lost. Those who try to lose weight without exercise often notice that the moment their diet slips, the weight they’ve lost returns with a vengeance.
Compound exercises will build muscle in your body to prevent this. You’ll have more leeway with your diet and will not spiral into a cycle of weight gain all over again.
• Increase in strength
While ab exercises do have their time and place, they focus mostly on your midsection. You only need to train your abs for about 5 or 6 minutes daily to get them looking great. Hit them quick and hard and you’re good to go.
However, training your abs alone is not enough. What about your thighs, shoulders, back, etc.?
Compound exercises such as dumbbell lunges, barbell squats, pull-ups, burpees, deadlifts, shoulder presses and so on will work several different muscles at the same time. Many of these compound exercises recruit your ab muscles as stabilizers.
You’re working your abs without even knowing it. As a result, your body gets stronger overall and you make much more progress in the same amount of time because your workouts are more productive.
By now you should realize that compound exercises are the better option for getting a flat belly. Focus most of your training on them and you’ll be amazed at how much faster you achieve a flat belly.