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Truth about Cardio

January 21, 2010

Truth about Cardio
The longer distance individual burns far more calories during their activity as opposed to the short distance individual they typically have a higher percentage of body fat when measured. Why is that you ask?

For starters, lower intensity, higher duration cardio makes it difficult for the body to maintain lean muscle because it tends to break muscle tissue in order to use the protein for energy. This is extremely important to know because it is lean muscle that uses fat for energy when we are at rest.

The less muscle one have, the less potential to burn fat and therefore greater potential to store fat. Therefore it will not require many calories for the recovery and repair process while the individual is at rest. Although a higher percentage of calories burned comes from fat with this type of activity, the body adapts in such a way that if you continue to do this activity, you will actually be burning less total calories for the same distance. This means you will either have to go longer or go harder to increase that caloric expenditure.

Contrast that to higher intensity, lower duration cardio. This type of activity spares muscle break down. In fact, it promotes an increase in lean muscle in order to produce higher amounts of force. The reason we all have muscle is to produce force. This recovery and repair requires higher amounts of calories at rest to fuel the process. And the predominant fuel source for calories when we are at rest is fat!

You may be wondering, doesn't the body adapt to this type of activity as well? Of course it does. It adapts by increasing lean muscle. This then allows you to apply more force. The more force you apply, the faster or harder you can go. The faster or harder you go, the more calories you will require to fuel these muscles during the activity but even as important, you will require more calories to repair and recover.

This explains why sprinters are more muscular, more toned, and more defined than a marathon runner.

This type of activity is great for developing aerobic capacity. And because a higher percentage of the calories burned comes from fat, a great thing to do, if your goal is to lose fat, is after performing some high intensity, short duration cardio, you can follow it with lower intensity, moderate duration cardio. You're adding fuel to the fire so to speak.


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