Walk into most gyms, and you’ll see up to dozens of people plodding away on the treadmill or cross trainer, most of them with the goal of fat loss in mind. They’ll go along at the same pace for extended periods of time, sometimes up to an hour or more. This method of training is called “steady-state cardio”, and it’s still widely believed to be the most effective way to lose body fat. Frankly, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Over the past few decades in our culture, the treadmill has become synonymous with weight loss, meanwhile resistance training (weights) has been associated only with bodybuilders and “meat heads”. Commercial gyms use cardio equipment to bring new members in the door, but it’s rare to see somebody achieve serious, sustainable fat loss results from steady-state cardio.
In this article you’ll find out that as well as being extremely tedious and boring, steady-state cardio is nowhere near as effective as other training methods for fat loss. In fact, there are even a few negative side-effects that come with this method of training, especially for beginners. A few of these include:
- Repetitive Impact on the Joints. This is especially true for jogging on pavement, or running on a treadmill. The knee, hip and ankle joints have to endure a tremendous amount of stress during steady-state jogging, especially when they are not protected by adequate muscle mass (as is the case with most beginners).
- Overload of Stress Hormone (Cortisol). In my opinion, this is the biggest problem with steady-state cardio as a staple training method. In some of my other articles, I mention the stress hormone cortisol, and how in this day and age the average person is extremely stressed. Steady-state cardio dramatically elevates the respiratory rate and metabolic rate for an extended period of time. This leads to a release of cortisol by the adrenal glands, which further stimulates the nervous system to allow you to keep running. It also prompts the liver and muscles to release stored sugar known as glycogen, in order to use as fuel.
The problem is, most people are already overstressed, and the release of even more cortisol into the system often leads to a number of problems, including:
- Inflammation of joints and organs
- Deficiencies of important hormones such as DHEA, as well as hormone imbalance
- Poor sleep due to excessive cortisol (stimulant) remaining in the system
- Fat storage around the abdomen due to prolonged and excessive release of cortisol
While it’s absolutely true that steady-state cardio can burn some fat as well as increase your cardiovascular fitness and endurance, you can easily get the same benefits (and more) from a well designed and balanced resistance training program, without the problem of cortisol overload and the prolonged, repetitive impact on your joints.
It should also be noted that steady-state cardio has a far more temporary effect on metabolism than resistance training. For example, after jogging for an hour, your metabolic rate will return to normal within minutes. After a resistance training session of the same length, your metabolic rate will be elevated for several hours. This is because during resistance training, you are stimulating muscles under load, causing the need for growth and repair. The same is not true for steady-state cardio.
After comparing the benefits and side-effects of steady-state cardio and resistance training, it’s easy to see why you may be fighting an uphill battle for fat loss. If you’re trying to lose body fat, and you’re bored with the treadmill, give some resistance training a try. The results will speak for themselves!
Also, if the gym scene isn’t for you, there are plenty of resistance-based training methods which can be used outdoors! If you live in the Tweed/Gold Coast region, give my Jandaplex Express program a try!