Cardio myths exposed

March 15, 2014

If you’re looking to get the most efficient fat burn out of your cardio sessions, it’s important to sift through the misinformation before you can learn what really works. Below are five cardio myths exposed to help you get the most results from your time spent in the gym or pounding the pavement.

One size fits all

I do believe there are superior modes that will get you fast results, such as the elliptical, Arc Trainer, running and jumping rope, but when it comes down to it, it depends on you and your own personal situation. If you have bad knees or a tendency to injure your lower back, running is probably not the best option for you, and lower-impact machines such as the elliptical, Arc Trainer and Jacobs Ladder may be better. If you are starting at a very low level of fitness, walking outside or using a stationary bike may be a good choice. Athletes and those who are already in good shape may get best results from sprints, outdoor runs and jumping rope.

More is better

As in everything else, quality is better than quantity, and with cardio, too much can actually cause you to lose lean tissue and damage your metabolism. That is why it’s important to resist spending too much time doing cardio without focusing on other important factors such as proper weight training, eating healthy and getting enough rest to recover from your workouts. Don’t get me wrong, if you are trying to lose weight, you will have to cycle your training, adding more time and frequency to your cardiovascular routine, but don’t fall into the trap of doing long, comfortable sessions or your body will adapt to your training and you will get little return for your efforts.

Calories count

Don’t subscribe to the one calorie in, one calorie out philosophy, because it will cause you to do hours of cardio to make up for eating a few guilty pleasures that people who work hard deserve. Instead, learn how to use cardio to boost your metabolism and burn fat even when you’re not working out. To get results, learn to change the variables, such as switching up the types of cardio you are doing. Increase the intensity or level; incorporate interval training, or try doing more sessions on weeks when you are consuming more calories. Don’t rely on calories alone to gauge the success of your workout, because there are much more effective ways to get results.

Less intensity burns more fat

Research has proven time and again that shorter, more intense workout sessions are much more effective at burning fat than slower, longer sessions. The most classic example of this is the comparison of the sprinter versus the long-distance runner. The sprinter is lean and muscular, while the long-distance runner is thin and wiry. Not that there is anything wrong with either, but if your goal is to burn fat, shorter, more intense cardio is the ticket.

Do cardio before weight training

Cardio is definitely an important piece of the weight-loss puzzle but it's weight training that will boost your metabolism 24 hours a day and cause your body to burn fat even on days you don’t work out. The reason is, more muscle burns more calories, so don’t degrade your workouts by doing cardio first. Instead, do your cardio directly after weight training, in the morning on an empty stomach. You can even do it later in the day, but doing it before weight training can diminish the results you work hard to achieve.

  • Chris Antonio is a personal trainer and former world-class weightlifter. He has been lifting for more than 20 years and has trained a wide variety of clients ranging from All-American athletes to the average person trying to get into shape. To send a question to the Ask the Trainer column, email Chris at or check out