When it comes to cardio, there’s one thing no one can deny: cardio is the ideal stress relief after a hard day of work and stress. Whether you prefer riding the stationary bike or running on the treadmill, cardio can make all your worries go away, at least for some time.
Cardio is also great for your heart, which is how it got its name in the first place. But the reason people most frequently turn to cardio is to burn those pesky calories and excess weight. And while most of the benefits of cardio exercise cannot be denied, there are a lot of myths and false truths that if you believe too blindly might lead to disappointment in the end.
The thing is, there are a variety of different classes and exercises you can enroll in at your local gym, and the best one is usually the one that makes you feel most comfortable. That said, even if you enjoy doing cardio the most, you need to know the truth about these 5 persistent myths if nothing just to adjust your expectations accordingly.
Cardio is the Fastest Way to Lose Weight
Many people who start clocking hours and hours at the treadmill or the elliptical machines believe that is the fastest way to get rid of their excess weight. I mean, the math is pretty simple: you burn calories to lose weight.
However, while cardio does help eliminate weight, it does not just eliminate the bad kind. Cardio can help burn fat true, but it also burns muscles. If you want to tone your body, build lean muscle mass, boost your metabolism and burn that fat you need to combine several types of training. One of the most effective ways of burning fat is through HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) exercises.
You Need to Spend at Least an Hour
This is one of the most persistent and notorious cardio myths. Needless to say, also completely untrue. Any form of exercise, no matter how long, can help burn calories. But the key is to burn them more efficiently. Cardio only burns calories as you exercise, but HIIT can help you keep burning them even after you’re done exercising, for up to 38 hours after the workout. Therefore, shorter but more intense exercises are much more effective than spending two hours running on the treadmill at a steady pace.
You Should Do Cardio on an Empty Stomach
While there might be a semblance of logic behind this myth, it’s also untrue. The idea is that if the body doesn’t have food calories at its disposal, it will burn the calories stored in its reserve, therefore melting your body fat. However, studies have shown that cardio helps burn even if you eat before exercising. Furthermore, other studies have shown that doing cardio on an empty stomach can result in muscle loss. While you shouldn’t overeat, you shouldn’t worry about having a snack before the workout. The energy it provides may help perform better.
If You Run or Ride a Bike You Can Skip Leg Day
We get it: nobody likes leg day. But unless you are sprinting or setting the bike’s resistance to the max, running or cycling is not really helping you build your leg muscles. So besides doing these popular cardio exercises, you should incorporate deadlifts, lunges, and squats for maximum muscle building benefits. Doing so will also make running and cycling easier. All the successful runners know this and incorporate leg strength training into their workout routine so they can perform better on the racetrack. And for most of them, it is an edge over their competition.