Chronic Cardio: When High Intensity Cardio Is Too Much

There are many social, environmental, nutritional, training and emotional obstacles that can potentially come into play when trying to lose body fat. A lot of people get stuck in either two of the main “camps” – not doing enough or doing too much. Today, we want to talk about those of you who are inclined to do “too much”.

When most people decide they want to embark on their journey to lose body fat, they think lots and lots of cardio, especially high intensity because that’s what the research says is the best for fat loss right?! Not so fast…

Does high intensity cardio burn more fat?

Doing conditioning at higher intensities can get you better results in shorter time (compared to say an hour of steady state cardio), but too much high intensity cardio could be sending the wrong signal to your body when it comes to stress.

Think of it like telling your body that you’re chronically sprinting away from danger so your body wants to store energy to be able to run away and survive.

So what does this mean? This means your body may attempt to hold on to body fat because it is less “expensive” tissue than muscle and having body fat provides the body energy for these demanding exercises.

Avoiding Chronic Cardio: The Right Dose of High Intensity Exercise

We’re not saying high intensity cardio is bad or wrong, but we are saying that you need to find the right dose for you. This means you need to take into account how many other stressors you have in your life (this is called your allostatic load – the amount of stress your body can handle before overall health starts to deteriorate).

Allostatic Load – the amount of stress your body can handle before overall health begins to deteriorate.

If you’re a super stressed out CEO always on the go and only getting 4 hours of sleep per night, you likely won’t benefit from 6 days a week from high intensity cardio. Your body can only handle a certain amount of stress before hormones start to get out of whack and health starts to plummet. Cortisol levels will start to rise too high, sleep will get disrupted, you won’t be able to regulate your appetite (this could potentially lead to binge type behavior), and you will probably start to feel some nagging injuries and other aches and pains.

If your stress levels are well-managed and your nutrition is on point to aid in recovery, then you can probably manage more high intensity cardio sessions. We still don’t recommend more than 1-2x per week. It’s also important to note that this will change over time. Life happens – some periods in life you will be more stressed out than others, so adjust your training intensity and volume accordingly.

More intensity and more volume doesn’t equate to fat loss. Choose hard, but QUALITY conditioning sessions that won’t burn out your engine. Also, focus mostly on strength training in your sessions to send the signal to your body to adapt, grow, and get stronger. Nourish your body properly, sleep enough, and moderate the amount of intensity you include in your training throughout the week. Most importantly, learn to listen to your body so you know when to push it and/or back off. With this approach, you will be well on your way to achieving body fat loss.

Avoiding Chronic Cardio: Walk More

Walking is our favorite form of cardio. Very accessible and low stress. If you can get in 10,000 steps a day, you can be sure you’re doing a solid amount of movement and it’s the low stress kind.

Do you find yourself doing a lot of cardio? Do your strength training sessions tend to take a back. seat? Do you have aesthetic goals, but the cardio doesn’t seem to be getting you any closer? Join our facebook group where we talk about tips to feeling, moving, and looking better though smart training techniques.

Want more? You’re in luck because we have a podcast, ‘Stronger than your Boyfriend‘ We combine a little science, a little ranting, and a lot of industry experience to help you sift through the BS and toxic misinformation in the fitness industry.

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