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Too much cardio could prevent weight loss

August 21, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
There is no doubt that adding cardio to your fitness routine can help burn calories. But for some the adage seems to be "all cardio, all the time," which some experts feel won't provide the intended fat burning benefits. "I was basically doing a lot of cardio, I was doing a lot of dieting, I couldn't lose a pound for almost 15 years," said Mark Politi.

Four months ago Politi was losing his war on weight even though he did cardio consistently to fight fat.

"I would spend sometimes, you know, a half an hour to 45 minutes on the stairmaster or treadmill. Even though I was sweating off water weight, it wasn't changing my metabolism," said Politi.

Fitness pro JJ Virgin says this is all too common.

"There's still this myth out there -- this urban legend that when you do a lot of cardio you're going to lose weight," said Virgin.

Just like Politi, those who put in frequent 45 minute cardio bouts in a long steady state endurance workout might be disappointed with the results.

"It burns up muscle," said Virgin. "Muscle is what dictates how well our metabolism works and how well we bun fat. It raises stress hormones. It lowers your immune system, it's going to fatigue you."

None of which is helpful in weight loss.

While Virgin is still a fan of cardio, like many smart trainers, she believes interval training with bouts of strength work and high intensity cardio bursts is the way to go.

"You can do dips, you could do step ups, you can do squats, you can do some jump roping," said Virgin. "When you switch to high intensity burst training the changes happen within a matter of weeks. We're going to shorten it up and make it a lot harder."

"I started bursting for eight minutes a day. By doing interval training, by elevating my heart rate for that eight minutes enabled me to, you know, burn fat," said Politi. "I lost 50 pounds in over four months, where I couldn't lose a pound for almost 20 years."

Your second best bet is to change the frequency, the intensity, the elevation, and the equipment because change makes change.

"The perfect thing is go hard for 30 to 60 seconds, go easy for a minute or two to buffer this lactic acid that you raise. The burn, you want to feel the burn, you want to bring it down," said Virgin.

Try this push and recover method and Virgin says you can be done in 20 to 30 minutes with more muscle and a faster metabolism.

"It's the big way that you raise growth hormone. The hormone of youth, beauty. Yes we like that," said Virgin.

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