Countless strength athletes set the goal to lose fat every day and more than one commits the following most common cardio mistakes in the process.
Save yourself some time and energy by training smart and avoiding them.
Cardio can also aid your training by increasing your overall work capacity and speeding up your recovery between sets. Additionally, it is an important factor for long-term weight maintenance.
So, what cardio mistakes should you avoid? Pro bodybuilder and YouTuber Jeff Nippard breaks down the answers.
Most Common Cardio Mistakes People Make for Fat Loss
- Thinking you only need to do cardio to lose fat
- Mistiming cardio and strength
- Getting the intensity wrong
- Doing too much cardio
- Relying on fasted cardio
Thinking you only need to do cardio to lose fat
You also need to address your diet if you want to lose fat, cardio by itself won’t get you there efficiently.
It is not a good idea to try to out-train a bad diet.
Cardio is great – it can help with long-term weight maintenance and reduce risk markers for cardiovascular disease and death from all causes – but don’t set unrealistic expectations on it, because it can be much more effective accompanied by good nutritional habits.
“From a fat loss standpoint, I think cardio should be used like a supplemental tool that assists your diet rather than the engine of fat loss,” says Nippard.
Timing cardio and strength wrong
Cardio can affect your strength training sessions – known also as the interference effect – as the muscle endurance and the muscle hypertrophy pathways are different.
While the question whether you should do cardio or strength first is still being discussed and the answer depends on your goals, if you want to lose fat and build muscle, you’ll have to be careful with the timing of your cardio sessions.
Nippard recommends doing weight training first (having completed a warm up of around 10 minutes) and cardio training either after or as a separate session altogether.
However, if you’re new to fitness or moderately trained, this cardio mistake shouldn’t worry you too much as it affects well trained individuals the most.
Doing too much intensity cardio
There are two types of cardio: Low Intensity Steady State and High Intensity Interval Training. While many people believe that HIIT is more effective at burning fat, the effects don’t really account for greater fat loss, Nippard says.
While HIIT is time efficient and can be more fun for certain athletes, it also takes longer to recover from and can interfere with your weight training more.
Doing too much cardio
Even if you nail the timing and intensity of your cardio training, it is still possible to do too much cardio, says Nippard. A 2012 study found a drop in hypertrophy for people who trained endurance between three and four times per week and a decrease in strength, power, and hypertrophy the longer endurance training was.
Although correlation wasn’t that strong, it is something to be aware of.
Relying on fasted cardio
Relying on fasted cardio for extra fat loss might seem like a compelling argument and easy hack, but while you might lose more fat during your cardio session itself, this doesn’t mean you’ll lose more fat overall.
Exercising fasted does not really influence weight loss or changes in lean fat mass.
Instead, focus on achieving a sustainable and safe caloric deficit over a set period of time and do your cardio training when it fits your schedule best.