Neil Anderson PT (@nandersonfit) from @GymCoBelfast: The Cardio Myth


There are various mistruths and myths within the health and fitness industry. The 80′s and 90′s “low fat” diet that still haunts our shopping trolleys today. The fact that essential fats are preceded by the word essential gives it away. I digress however, the myth I wish to dispel on this occasion is the cardio myth, the number of times I hear “I am doing cardio to burn fat and will start weights to tone sometime”. I could site endless scholarly articles explaining the subject in depth and frequently why high intensity training in anaerobic systems is so much better for or bodies at not only losing fat, but getting stronger, versus conventional cardio done in aerobic state, however I do not want to bore you. So I ask you what animal on earth runs slowly for long extended periods of times? The most successful animals are those that can move quickly and are strong, same goes for gym goers attempting to change their bodies! Before that scares anyone off I do not mean become a big brute, but simply strong and having a nice shape low in body fat!




How did this myth ‘cardio burns fat’ come about? Well as the body exercises it uses mostly carbohydrates and a small amount of fats with oxygen for energy, the closer we are to rest the bigger percentage is fat ,,,,,. Sounds great, kind of is, because the only time we use fat as our sole fuel is being at complete rest! However the actual amount of energy used for low intensity state is so low it is almost negligible. The worry at moderate intensity ie running etc is more frustrating again down to how the body adjusts to the work….

So what happens the body with constant moderate intensity work for example jogging?  Over time it rids itself of the Muscle which fulfills energy requirement for short bursts of intense exercise, stores a certain amount of fat, because it needs to adapt itself to be able to sustain 1-2 hours of cardio.

So you will lose a little bit of fat and a significant amount of muscle therein not necessarily improving body fat percentage! You may Lose “Weight” this will be at the cost of your muscles and mean your metabolic rate also therefore drops. Eventually you end up looking like a Marathon runner. Not to mention the Weightloss quickly settles unless you start running longer and then it quickly halts again! Now I’m not having a go at competitive marathon runners, fair play competition is a great challenge and I am inspired by all competitive athletes! However if you aren’t competing then simply why??

Since energy for short bursts of heavy duty requirement like, Sprinting , Boxing , Field sports, lifting weights comes from Glycogen stored in the muscles , your body tries to gain Muscle and drop excess FAT! It doesn’t need fat to be capable of those short bursts and recover, fat hinders the activity! Notice that a marathon runner has a soft layer the sprinter does not have!

A Sprinter like all successful animals moves quickly with bursts of energy, will do much shorter workouts at greater intensity often 30 mins or less compared to 1-3 hrs that Marathon runner’s workout. Sprinting or lifting weight increases your Basel metabolic rate over time and will utilise greater calories expenditure after you finish your training. The expenditure of massive amounts of oxygen from training in this fashion is the most potent of fat burners, using more energy at rest – the only time you use fat as your sole fuel for energy!

It frustrates me to see how many people “hit the gym” by doing so spend time at a low to moderate rate simply going from one cardio machine to the next. It is fact that 70% of gym goers simply don’t work hard enough whilst in the gym to change their physical condition! By that an adaptation might be fat loss or lean tissue development. Adaptation is the key word here! Time for a body shock folks lets not be part of the 70% that do not push the body enough to adapt and improve through training!




In summary

1) Weights and sprinting for fat burning not jogging.

2) Using pressing, pulling, squatting movements to use the large muscles and multiple muscles that assist the movements. This way more oxygen is expired and thus rest period requires most energy to recover.

3) Think about achieving greater functional fitness – strength, power, speed and agility. Jogging and steady state cardio will not achieve this!

4) Think about your actual goals, the key word is adaptation! How will the body develop if I do a certain activities.

5) Utilise the cutting edge equipment in Gym Co carefully selected to give the wide range of possibilities to challenge the body and hit your goals

6) Utilise the expertise of the trainers with years of experience that offers invaluable advice and service that will make your journey faster and more successful.




  1. I run marathons as I enjoy the training and social aspects of it.

    It’s not all about competition really. I’m down roughly 85lbs over 3 years thanks mainly to cardio.

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