Here’s a question that came in the other day.
I just heard an interview with Charles Poliquin where he says that cardio machines should be removed from the gym as he believes steady state cardio can hinder fat loss.
I’m lifting weights three times a week and combining that with two or three days gentle steady state cardio with a calorie deficit. Currently I’ve completely stopped doing any high intensity interval training as I was feeling totally knackered (I’m 48).
I tend to suffer from analysis paralysis so any advice that will help keep me on my current path would be very helpful.
I learned a lot from Charles Poliquin in the late 1990’s.
That was before he started making a bunch of weird claims about how belly button rings disrupt body composition by “interfering” with the acupuncture meridian, or that eating only Dominican Republic foods helped him lose 3lbs of fat and gain 14lbs of muscle in five days.
Reaching true guru status usually requires making some claims that are a bit “out there.”
It’s all part of the game they play to pull you into their camp.
If steady-state cardio somehow made it harder to lose fat, you’d expect to see this show up in the research.
But it hasn’t.
On average, diet plus steady-state cardio provides only a marginal benefit (in terms of weight loss) when compared to diet alone.
However, there’s a big difference between cardio providing a “marginal benefit” and actually making it harder to lose fat.
For some people, exercise can lead to certain compensatory behaviors – most notably an increase in hunger and calorie intake – which causes them to lose less weight than expected.
But it’s not something that affects everyone to the same degree.
In fact, some people will react in the opposite way, tightening up on the quality of their diets when they start exercising more.
What’s more, the type of exercise that triggers compensatory eating hasn’t been studied in any great depth.
Most of the research I’ve seen has looked at changes in hunger and calorie intake in response to steady-state cardio.
But I know of at least one study where HIIT led to a degree of compensatory eating in a small group of women.
Strength training may very well have a similar effect in some people. Without more research on the table, it’s hard to say for sure.
By itself, steady-state cardio isn’t going to deliver the results you want.
In fact, I’d put diet and strength training ahead of cardio when it comes to improving your body composition.
But cardio is still a useful tool in the box, and is something I recommend to anyone who wants to get in shape.
SEE ALSO: THE FLAT BELLY CHEAT SHEET
If you want less flab and more muscle when you look down at your abs (or where they should be), check out The Flat Belly Cheat Sheet.
It's a “cut the waffle and just tell me what to do” PDF, written in plain English, that tells you exactly how to get rid of belly fat. To download a free copy please click or tap here.
ABOUT CHRISTIAN FINNChristian Finn holds a master's degree with distinction in exercise science, is a former personal trainer and has been featured on BBC TV and radio, as well as in Men's Health, Men's Fitness, Fit Pro, Zest, and Perfect Body magazine.