I’m not a huge fan of cardio, spinning, or aerobics in terms of people looking to lose body fat obviously in short time periods. I mean if somebody likes doing it; if somebody wants to be the triathlete, you know what, go ahead and do it and love what you do.
But I’m not a big fan of it for those people I see who are running on the sidewalk and look like they despise every single minute they are doing it.
That is probably a greater percentage of the people who do it when they are looking to lose weight. There are a lot of research studies to say that aerobics and cardio aren’t the greatest way to lose weight. And I’m not a fan of having somebody do stuff they don’t like to achieve a goal when there are other ways to do it.
I’m not a big fan of certain machines in the gym for cardio. It may not be the machine itself, but it may be the excuses. Its human nature that some of these machines allow us to slide by and do stuff that we think is helping us, but subconsciously we’re taking the easy way out.
I have what I call the human nature test; because I always make fun of elliptical machines and I really think that they are not again what people make them out to be.
Let’s say you take 100 people. You go to a mega gym – you’ve got 100 treadmills and 100 elliptical machines – you take 100 people into that room and you say, ” Okay, you have to work out for 30 minutes at a pretty good pace. You choose your machine.”
You know darn well that 70-80 of those people are going to be on the elliptical machines rather than the treadmill. To me, that says something. I just think that we’re wired to take the easy way out.
You can extend it even further and say, ” Okay, you’ve got 100 people; you’ve got 100 treadmills and a track. Go do your training. You can either do the treadmill or the track.” You know 80% of those people are probably going to use the treadmill.
Humans take the easy way out when given hard choices. The other thing that I’m against in terms of cardio is – I refer to it as one of the dark sides of cardio – is that people can get injured doing a high volume of cardio work.
Of course, to be fair, you can get injured doing a high volume of body building work. When I was young and reading the magazines, I was doing too much upper body work and had a little bit of shoulder problems; not anything I haven’t been able to get over.
So injury risk is often proportional to the volume of exercise you do. Too much volume in lifting, too much volume in cardio, or even too much volume in crunches and you’re going to end up in the doctor’s office or the physiotherapy office.
Ironically, many trainers and physiotherapists are the worst offenders of over-use injuries. There is one physio that I worked in a gym where she worked, and she literally could not walk properly because she did so many spinning classes.
Spinning classes are another thing I’m not a huge fan of. On one side, there’s great benefit to your fat loss program because of the group mentality because social support is huge. Working out in that group encourages you to come back. And a lot of people have fun with it. Plus, its interval training in nature. So lots of good things about spinning.
But I figure, why do something for 45 minutes when you can get the same results in 20 minutes? Also, I’m not a big fan of the high RPM spinning because I think that’s where a lot of hip problems have been developed in people that I’ve trained personally and also in some of the classes I’ve watched.
I just don’t think that it’s great for your hips, especially in women who have hip problems already from childbirth, to be going at 140-160 RPM or whatever they are doing and you just watch their bodies flopping around without the right torso strength and endurance and stability there, they are going to end up with problems.
One last thing I’ll say on this is that an aerobic training program is probably one of the worst places to start a 300 pound person out on a fat loss program because their muscles are not prepared for this and neither are their joints. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t want to run with an extra 120 pounds on my back, or even walk quickly. We need to re-examine where we start people out.
So if you are not getting the results you want but you are doing a lot of cardio, spinning, or aerobics classes, decrease the volume, try some interval training, and focus on quality workouts for fat burning.
Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS Author, Turbulence Training