Why Cardio Doesn't Work for Fat Loss
By: Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS
Cardio exercise is such a strange thing. In theory, it should work
so perfectly well for all men and women, but as anyone who has
tried it knows, the practicality of it just doesn't add up.
After all, some men and women do cardio 6 hours, 9 hours, or more per week, and still have belly fat to burn. On the other hand, it works just fine for others.
British researchers wanted to get more insight into this paradox, and studied 35 overweight men and women, who weren't previously exercising.
(Reference: International Journal of Obesity 32: 177-184, 2008).
Subjects exercised 5 times per week for 12 weeks. That's a lot of
exercise, but it helped the subjects lose an average of 8.2 pounds, which is great - I was positively surprised by the results.
So cardio will work for some people, however, in my experience, it works best in young men, who need the help the least!
Back to the study, the variance in fat loss between individuals was huge. Check this out...
The best subject lost a staggering 32.3 pounds in 12 weeks, while the worst subject actually GAINED 3.74 pounds.
The scientists think they know where things went sour. They
classified the subjects into 2 groups, called the "Compensators"
and the "Non-compensators".
The Compensators were hungrier, and as a result consumed an extra 268 calories per day, all but wiping out their cardio efforts.
Therefore, the Compensators lost the least amount of weight, and scientists believe that was due to the huge "compensatory" increase in appetite experienced by this group.
Does your appetite increase when you do slow cardio? If it does,
research shows it will ruin your cardio efforts.
So if your cardio program is not working for you, check your
appetite and calorie intake to see if you are "compensating" for
your efforts. If you are, you might be better off using a program
of high-intensity resistance and interval training (i.e. Turbulence Training) for your weight loss efforts.
As Australian Professor Steve Boucher has shown in research,
interval training increases hormones called catecholamines. And
increased catecholamines can reduce appetite, among other fat-
In the real world, few people lose 33 pounds after 12 weeks of
cardio. Heck, few even achieve an average weight loss of 8 pounds with aerobic exercise.
So again, check your appetite, and consider giving high-intensity
exercise a go for your next workout program.
Beat the curse of cardio with high-intensity Turbulence Training.