7 Cardio Myths You Need To Know

image of heart with zig zag lines

Cardio exercise is essential for good health but you may be curious about cardio myths. There are plenty of reasons why you should be doing cardio workouts, including weight loss, stress relief, blood pressure management, feel-good endorphin boost, and cardiovascular strength. Likewise, there are just as many myths about cardio. It is beneficial for you to be aware of the misinformation so that you can meet your fitness goals. Here are seven of the most common cardio myths.

Cardio Must Always Be Done First

A lot of people strongly believe that your cardio workout must be done before going into resistance or weight training. But the fact is, there is no right or wrong order. This is a one of many cardio myths.

Some people feel that cardio helps warm up their bodies before they switch to strenuous weight training exercises. Others believe that doing cardio first drains their energy and leaves little room for productive resistance training. There are professional opinions and research to support both arguments. However, all maintain that the choice depends on the individual’s own preference and fitness goals.

High-Intensity Interval Training is the Best

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a popular trend in the world of fitness, but its benefits pertaining to weight maintenance are often misunderstood. While it is true that your metabolism is boosted a great deal after a HIIT session. Also, while you burn more calories in a minute of HIIT than you do by exercising at a lower intensity, it is not the best way to burn fat. Actually, during an HIIT session, most of the calories that you burn come from non-fat sources such as protein and carbohydrates. As HIIT is an anaerobic activity (where oxygen demands exceed oxygen supply) it uses carbs as the dominant source of fuel. In order to tap into fat stores, one needs to do steady-state cardio. This involves working out at a lower intensity and maintaining about 65% of your maximum heart rate over a duration of 30-60 minutes.

Cardio Makes Up for Unhealthy Eating

Cardio workout may be excellent for burning calories, but if you’re trying to make up for a day of excess eating, you should use those extra calories for weightlifting rather than exhausting yourself on the cardio machine for long periods of time. Strength training burns a lot of calories and increases your muscle mass which in turn improves your metabolism even after you leave the gym. So if you’re planning for an intense workout after a not so healthy day of eating, go for relatively heavy compound movements such as dead-lifts, squats and push presses.

Cardio on an Empty Stomach Burns More Fat

A lot of people believe in doing cardio workout on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning. The concept behind a ‘fasted cardio’ is that the body will use fat and carbohydrate stores to fuel the cardio session in the absence of a pre-workout meal thereby aiding in weight loss or weight maintenance. The fact, however, is that a cardio workout on an empty stomach can actually have harmful effects. It can cause muscle loss, reduce energy levels, and impact your overall performance negatively. Cardio workouts should neither be done in a fasted state nor when you’re still digesting. The post-absorptive state is when the nutrients are available in the bloodstream and your body is ready for cardio.

If You’re Doing Enough Cardio, You Can Eat More

Most people tend to overestimate the calories they burn during cardio workouts and underestimate the calories they’re taking in. It must be remembered that the cardio machines only offer a rough estimate of calories burned. Having said that, exercise is not effective enough alone to burn fat. So keep your ‘calories in’ side of the equation in check and follow a healthy diet that provides you the calories you need to power through cardio and lose weight.

Cardio Myth: Burn Targets are Crucial

At times, people get too caught up with the whole idea of ‘calories in vs calorie out.’ Yes, you should be keeping a check on how much you eat and how much you burn, but there is certainly no need to follow set targets of burning calories. You must remember that every individual has a different metabolic rate which depends on various factors like body composition, size, age, and gender. Your fitness and cardio effectiveness should not be measured by net calories, but by how well you’re training your body to go farther distances in shorter durations.

Cardio is the Best Way to Tone up Your Body

Cardio will help increase your endurance level, burn calories, and reduce body fat, but it cannot do everything. This is another cardio myth example. It is only one of the three parts you need to focus on in order to achieve your fitness goals, the other two being resistance training and healthy meals. Resistance training is what helps build muscle and allows you to burn more calories resting. And you are what you eat. Make sure to have a healthy diet if you want a toned body.

Final Word

Remember, getting a good cardio workout on a regular basis is great for your health and wellbeing. Now you are aware of some of the cardio myths out there so you can get the most out of your workouts.