Allergic to Cardio? You can still lose weight!

I’m getting better at running longer distances. I use to do athletics (100m) training when I was at uni. But that was short distances. Sometimes I’d sprint just 10m at a time! When it gets longer than 400m, I’m just kinda done! I need those short intervals to feel alive!


I need that lactic acid burn to feel alive!! ????


Slow, long distance running feels like torture. You know, the water torture kind. At first you think it’s all good, a nice little pitter patter. Next thing you know, you’re telling strangers secrets and offering your kidney to anyone who’d make the pain stop!


So, Do I Have To Do Cardio To Lose Weight?

No, not at all.

In fact, just to reiterate, your diet is the most important factor for weight loss. It’s easier to cut 300 calories from your diet than increasing physical activity by 300 calories (that’s about 40 minutes of moderate hard exercise!)

That’s not to say exercise can’t help, especially if you’re looking for a tones/lean look. I just wanted to make sure we had our priorities straight. In cas you still want some exercise to bolster your weight loss goals, you have 2 options if you want to lose weight while doing minimal cardio and one to jazz up your cardio workouts! I’ll explain those in a little while.

But first, let me explain something. The leanest people out there usually focus on training a fitness component called work capacity. In training terms, this can be described as a mix of cardio (moderate to high repetition, but low intensity) and weight training (usually high intensity but low repetition). By combining these aspects you create a workout that’s moderately high in both intensity and repetition, hitting the proverbial sweet spot for workouts.

The options below give you practical ways to train your work capacity.

Your 3 Non Cardio Options

Don’t do any cardio.

You can still have a healthy cardio vascular system (which is made up of the heart and connecting veins and arteries) by just weight training. You do this by using a slightly lower weight than you would usually use for weights, but doing more reps and sets.

You can also use super sets and tri-sets. A superset is when two exercises are done back to back before you take a break. A tri-set is the same but with 3 exercises. These slight tweaks will increase your heart rate more than a single set of an exercise, where a break is taking after every set of a single exercise.

For sure, you’d get better improvemnts in heart efficiency doing traditional carido (long slow runs/cycles etc.), but you wouldn’t be reading this article if you didn’t want an alternative! And by lifting weight in the way I’ve described above, your heart rate can go above 100bpm and stay there. It’s definitely a better workout for your heart than sitting on your A-double-snakes all day!

Do HIT/Circuit Training –

With this option, you’ll be doing body-weight type exercises, or weight training exercises using even lighter weights, one after the other. You’ll want to keep rest time between exercises short (0-30s), and as many exercises as you can handle. It’s best to alternate between lower body, upper body and core exercises so that you can work for longer as each body part gets a chance to recover.

It’s really important to keep intensity high. If the intensity is meh, then it’s not a HIT (High Intensity Tranining). If you can train for longer than 20 minutes, and don’t feel absolutely wrecked the next day, it’s proabably a bit too easy!

HIT  – Sample Protocol

  • 4 exercises – 1 Lower Body (Squats) , 1 Upper Body Push (Push Ups), 1 Upper Body Pull (Renegade Rows), 1 Core (Bicycle Crunches)
  • Work to Rest Ratio of 40:20 – Do each exercise for 40s, take 20s to rest, then move onto the next exercise.
  • Do 5 rounds altogether – 20 mins total workout time.

Interval training

Strictly, this is still cardio, but it’s more akin to HIT training. Take running for example. You can do a long slow run at a steady pace for 5k. Or you can run that same distance and break it up into 10 x 500m runs that might each take you 3 minutes to do, while giving yoursel a 2 minute rest inbetween each run. Even though you’ve run the same distance, the training effect is different because you exposed your body to higher intensities.

The intervals breaks up the distance into smaller chunks. How do you eat an elephant? ???? One bite at a time. For me, it’s easier to do long distances in small intervals. Keep in mind that it’ll probably take you longer to do intervals that total 5k than just doing a steady paced run. It might be wise to start with slightly less as you get accustomed to interval training.

One Last alternative

I always suggest focusing on your strengths first, not your weaknesses. But for those who want to take on the beast that is cardio, while being mediocre at best, this next point is for you!

There comes a point where if you have been lifting weights, and doing minimal cardio your fitness will stall. You find that your plateauing. You haven’t really felt a good workout for a little while. Your joints are aching. Your finding it harder to manage your weight. This is when tackling your hatred for cardio can make sense.

And the truth is that…

You probably hate cardio because you suck at it.

So the first step is to introduce a tiny bit of cardio in each sessions, while still doing the workouts that you excel at and feel confident doing. You can add 10 minute uphill walk on the treadmill as a warm-up or cool down. You can run a mile (which probably won’t take more than 15 minutes). You can go for a walk on the weekend and explore you city. The most important thing is to do things that feel easy!

Have fun with the options above. If you’d like help with creating your own HIT programme
contact us and we’ll happily answer questions you have!

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