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How Much Cardio Should You Do To Lose Weight?

How much cardio you need to do to lose weight? Does cardio affect muscle growth? This post aims to answer such questions about cardio.

You may have heard that to lose weight you need to do cardio.

And the more weight you need to lose, the more cardio you need to do. But this is not quite true.

The true benefit of cardio is if you are looking to improve your cardiovascular endurance.

However, if you are just looking to lose fat and build muscle, then you don’t need to do too much cardio.

How much cardio do you need to lose weight?

You’ve always been told that to lose more weight you need to do more cardio.

However, losing weight has more to do with a calorie deficit than just focussing on cardio.

A calorie deficit means that your body is burning more calories than what you are consuming. This is the only way it can achieve fat loss.

So if you want to achieve weight loss, you can do that with a good diet that puts you in a calorie deficit.

Of course, cardio may help you with the additional boost to burn more calories. But you don’t need to spend too much time with cardio.

1-2 hours of cardio per week should be more than sufficient for your weight loss goals along with a good, healthy diet plan and a good weight training program.

Here are some reasons why just doing cardio is not the best plan for weight loss.

Cardio does not burn as many calories as you think

The body is highly efficient when it comes to burning calories.

So you might burn some calories with a 30-minute vigorous cardio session. But you would easily eat a lot more calories than what you burnt if you eat a handful of nuts.

So it’s more important to focus on a calorie deficit than doing lots of cardio.

Your body adapts when you do more cardio

You may have faced a situation where you started losing weight doing cardio. But after a few days, you don’t seem to lose weight or maybe even gain weight when doing the same amount of cardio.

This happens because the more cardio you do, the more your body adapts to the exercise. The body is efficient in doing so and so reduces the amount of energy it expends doing the same amount of exercise.

Basically, the body gets better and more efficient at doing the same activity. This results in lesser calories being burned with the same amount of cardio.

So your weight loss will stall or you will start gaining weight because you are no longer in a calorie deficit.

Doing lots of cardio can cause muscle loss

Doing lots of cardio can put you in a large calorie deficit.

This will cause your body to starve and use your muscles as fuel.

The ideal way to lose weight is to lose body fat while retaining or even increasing the muscle mass.

To do this you need a combination of a good weight training program and some cardio that assists you in fat loss.

Doing lots of cardio can affect heart health

Studies have shown that athletes who perform a large amount of cardio have an increased risk of heart dysfunction.

Doing lots of cardio is also shown to increase the risk of stroke.

Also, doing a lot of high-impact cardio such as running puts a lot of strain on the knees, joints, and bones.

Does doing cardio impact muscle building?

Many bodybuilders think that doing cardio is going to kill their muscle gains. This is not entirely true.

Doing cardio is beneficial to cardiovascular health and can even assist in the muscle building process.

However, doing too much cardio can cause one to go into a huge calorie deficit and that can cause the body to use the muscle as fuel leading to muscle loss.

Also, doing lots of cardio may impact the recovery of the body and therefore affect performance in the gym.

It’s aways good to perform your weight training first and then a small amount of cardio after the weight training session so that it does not affect your performance in the gym.

What is the best cardio that you can perform for weight loss?

Research shows that the best cardio you can perform for weight loss is HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training).

High-intensity interval training (or HIIT) is usually divided into a high-intensity workout followed by low-intensity work or rest. For example, you could sprint for 30 seconds and then walk for 60 seconds.

This makes it highly efficient when compared to the regular, steady cardio that people perform such as walking, jogging, etc. As a result, you need to spend very little time performing the workout and get the same benefits of weight loss and metabolic boost.

High-intensity interval training can be performed either by using cardiovascular exercises or by using weight training exercises or even body weight exercises.

How HIIT can help you lose weight

HIIT makes your body use glucose during the intensity phase and the fat during the recovery phase.

HIIT makes you work at high intensity and so you tend to burn more fat.

Also, with HIIT, you are performing intensely for a longer period of time compared to regular cardio. This will also help you burn more fat.

In addition, high-intensity interval training provides you with the after-burn effect that helps your body burn fat during the 24 hours after you have performed the HIIT workout.

To learn more about high-intensity interval training, check out How To Lose Weight Fast Using High-Intensity Interval Training.


I hope this post has answered your questions on how much cardio you need for achieving your weight loss goals.

To summarize, if your goal is to lose weight and build muscle, then you should only do as much cardio as required and not more than that.

For most people, doing 1-2 hours of cardio every week should be more than sufficient for achieving their weight loss goals.

Of course, this needs to be combined with a good weight loss diet plan and a good strength training program.

If you have any questions about cardio and weight loss, please comment below.

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