There are two kinds of people – those who love cardio and those who aren’t sold on it.
Regardless of which camp you fall into, there is no denying that as with most fitness-related advice, there is a lot of conflicting and incorrect information surrounding the training method.
Cardio does have its place in an exercise routine. How it fits in and how you should incorporate it is a matter of looking at your goals.
We clear up the top myths about cardio that may help you learn to love it or continue to hate it.
It was thought that spending hours on the elliptical machine and stair master or racking up the kilometres on the road was the best way to shed kilograms and lose weight.
That opinion has changed. It is widely know that there is a lot more to weight loss that just doing hours of cardio. In fact, diet and strength training play a far more significant role than previously thought.
Add some strength training days to your regular routine and dial in your nutrition on top of your regular cardio programme and reap even greater rewards.
A good strength training circuit can burn as much if not more calories than cardio.
Full body lifting such as weighted squats or deadlifts, work the larger muscles of the body which is great for burning calories.
Plus weight lifting burns more calories even when you are done with your session thanks to something known as EPOC.
Also known as the afterburn effect. This is the oxygen (and energy, in the form of calories) that your body takes in and uses after exercise to help repair your muscles and recover.
Fasted cardio refers to training on an empty stomach, usually first thing in the morning.
Fasted cardio has been proven to have adverse effects on weight loss and it has been shown to cause muscle loss.
You do not want to lose muscle mass as muscle helps keep our metabolism high and aids in weight maintenance.
Training faster can leave you lethargic and can result in a poor training session so rather eat a small pre-workout meal before your session to help you perform better and get the most out of your session.
This comes down to what you prefer and there is no hard and fast rule about this.
Many people choose to do cardio before a lifting session as it helps them warm up.
Those who choose to do their strength part of their training first claim that they rather use their energy on lifting heavier weight. They may feel sluggish and less productive.
Research shows evidence in favour of both arguments. The general consensus is that it is up to the individual and their goals.
If strength is your primary focus you should hit the weights first but if your aerobic capacity needs improvement hit the treadmill.
Although many cardio exercises such as running, cycling and rowing do work the leg muscles, you are not given a free pass to skip leg day.
Unlike lower bodyweight training, the intensity, force and resistance that cardio provides the muscles are not enough for any significant strength building.
Weight training, on the other hand, does have a great carry over for cardio training, especially running.
The strength gains help make running those longer distances a lot easier.
Both forms of cardio have their merits.
High-Intensity Interval Training burns calories from other sources besides fat. Protein and carbs are the main sources of fuel due to HIIT is an aerobic exercise which means the oxygen needs exceeds the supply.
Steady-state cardio taps into fat stores. Steady-state cardio is exercise that is done at lower intensity. You will try to maintain a heart rate of 65% of your maximum heart rate over 30-60 minutes.
Don’t let this misconception fool you. Any movement and exercise are better than nothing.
So if you can squeeze in a short lunchtime run or quick HIIT session in during the day go for it.
Of course, you end up burning more calories with longer bouts of exercise but the health benefits of a shorter session are just as important.
Cardio helps make your heart strong. It increases your lung capactiy and helps reduce your risk of heart attack, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and some forms of cancer.
It can aid sleep and boost your immune system.
Healthline recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week.