Is Your Cardio Good Enough?

Why Your Cardio May Not Be Enough

I’m asked about “Cardio” on almost a daily basis. How much, when, how hard etc.

What shocks me though is that most people don’t understand that there’s fundimental difference between Cardio and Aerobics, and why waisting time on aerobics may be holding you back.

Why Does It Matter?

So why should you care if you’re doing cardio or aerobics? You all know the rectangle-square relationship – All squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares.

Almost like Kian is an Ameli, but not all Ameli’s are Kian:

All The Ameli's

A good definition of Cardio is pretty much anything that raises your heart rate substantially, but we should really only care about the events that create a “metabolic effect” – More on that later.

Aerobics on the other hand defines when we work in a particular energy system – The aerobic system. We essentially have 3 ways to produce energy.

1. Creatine phosphate

2. Anaerobic Glycolysis

3. Aerobically

The first two are used during the first 10 seconds and 2 minutes of exercise respectively, and will show up later on during longer bouts of exercise. Aerobic energy production is slower and takes a while to jump in, but is really important for long term energy production.

In a real world example running or walking on the treadmill for an hour would be aerobics, while doing a weight lifting session quickly – squats to push-ups to lat pull downs repeated 3X followed by another super-set of exercises – would be cardio.

If you need a more in depth take on this whole topic, pick up Lou Schuler’s and Alwyn Cosgrove’s book, “The New Rules Of Lifting”


Ok, now that we’re clear on how they are different, let’s take a look at why you should care.

Aerobic exercise has a tendency to burn more calories during exercise than an intense cardio session, say around 500, with about an hour of afterburn or metabolic effect, which is an increased calorie burn post exercise.

The example of interval training above wouldn’t burn as many calories during exercise, BUT, and this is a huge but, the afterburn can last between 12 and 36 hours. On average that means you’ll burn around 800 calories AND build muscle which will burn even more calories and make you look way sexier.

That means that if you do only aerobics or only intense cardio you have the potential to burn an extra 300 calories per workout and build muscle with intense cardio

No aerobics then?

Absolutely not.

What this does mean is that if you only have a short period of time to workout and your goal is to lose fat then your obvious choice is to do intense cardio sessions – for most of your workouts. However if you have extra time, or want to workout on back to back days then aerobic activity definitely has it’s place.

Also, if you LOVE aerobics or you’re training to improve your performance in an aerobic event then doing aerobics is a really good idea.

Hopefully that clears up more questions than it creates. Pop a comment in if you’re confused.