Perhaps it’s time to reassess your routine to finally achieve those goals

We know regular exercise is essential for maintaining optimal health, but do we know when we are doing too much? Cardio or aerobic exercise is excellent for maintaining a healthily functioning cardio-respiratory system, but like most things TOO much can be detrimental to your health and may be stopping you from achieving fat loss and a lean physique. If that isn’t your fitness goal and you are currently training for a marathon/ triathlon / endurance cycle then this article isn’t applicable to you (right now).

 

It may sound like madness to some, but for others unless they are drenched in sweat and totally exhausted after a workout then it doesn’t really count as a productive session. That endorphin rush is addictive, after all if it makes you feel good how can it be bad?

 

There is no hard and fast rule as to what “excessive cardio” constitutes of as we are all individual and your physiology may be better equipped to recover from a hardcore cardiovascular workout faster than your neighbour in a spinning class. However, if you have been pushing with everything you’ve got but are not seeing the results you want it could be due to the fact excessive cardio is training your body to hold fat more effectively to be used as a fuel.

 

Despite being active, are you feeling tried, have trouble sleeping and find your weight has plateaued? Excessive cardio can lead to hormone imbalances, particularly for women. Cortisol, the major stress hormone, is released during intensive cardio exercise. When your cortisol is high, your blood pressure goes up, your immune system is suppressed and you store more calories as fat – especially around your abdomen. When tested, cardio junkies surprisingly often have high blood sugar levels.

 

We need to do cardio for our cardiovascular health. For some a good sweat can bring on numerous mental health benefits too so by no means should you stop doing cardio workouts. A healthy workout plan should include cardio, muscular and flexibility training. If you miss out the resistance training you’ll not build muscular strength and you will not boost your metabolism to be as high as it could be. The National Institute of Health recommends adults do 5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week or 2.5 hours of vigorous-intensity activity each week for the most health benefits. Muscle-strengthening activities that are moderate or vigorous intensity should be included 2 or more days a week[1] .

 

If you are currently spending 6 days a week on pure cardio perhaps consider taking 2 days out and replacing these with full-body strength conditioning sessions. By reducing your pure cardio sessions to 3 – 4 a week and adding in x2 full-body strength conditioning sessions you’ll soon start to see results as an increase in muscle increases your resting metabolic rate. Meaning you burn more energy throughout the day, even after you’ve finished your workout. Resistance training boosts basal metabolism and fat burning for 24-plus hours, something cardio doesn’t do.

 

On active recovery days get on the mat and do some yoga. Yoga isn’t totally useless for weight-loss, it strengthens and lengthens muscles and connective tissue, whilst reducing stress and therefore cortisol. A calmer nervous system will produce less cortisol and you’ll also benefit from not depleting your body of energy and being more dehydrated and having a better balance minerals which are lost via sweat. You may also find you eat less as often we over-estimate how many calories are burnt during a workout and as a consequence overeat.

 

So, if you want to avoid that annoying fitness plateau it’s time to try mixing up your routine.

 

[1] https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/physical-activity-and-your-heart