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Why Cardio Stops you from Losing Weight - Part 2

Welcome back to part 2 of last weeks blog post Monday! (Why Cardio Stops you from Losing Weight) I hope you understood it all. Just a reminder, if you do not understand please email me. I am happy to answer any questions you have, if I don’t know the answer I will make sure to find out and get back to you.

Ok, so why are we back here? Well, there’s more. Last week we covered some of the science behind potential muscle wasting and reducing the ability to burn calories from dieting and just doing cardiovascular training. That’s not all, our bodies are incredible at adaptation to stimulus and also repetition. Have you ever noticed that the more you repeat a skill the easier it becomes? The same is applicable to exercise, which is why we have to switch up our training routines fairly regularly. How is this applicable to cardio? Well, when we bike, run, swim etc our bodies become increasingly more efficient at performing that skill and therefore our stored energy and consumed energy gets used more efficiently, thus using less calories to perform the same task.

For example - the average male or female that wakes up one morning and decides they would like to run a marathon or just go for a 3-5mile run, will expend more energy in doing so than someone who has been running consistently for 5 years.

So, continuing to perform a task not only improves that task but will reduce the energy required to perform it. Why? As we improve our training, we also improve our ability to uptake oxygen and supply the working muscles. To summarize and quote - Exercise training increases locomotion economy and ease. (1,2) Goran and Poehlman found an example of this in their study on Endurance training does not enhance total energy expenditure in healthy elderly persons where they discovered a decrease in Activity related Energy Expenditure following an aerobic training program for 8 weeks. (3)

Why is resistance training superior?

Previous research on the effects of resistance training discovered that resistance training specifically, increases total energy expenditure by increasing resting energy expenditure. This is due to our previously mentioned outcome of increasing “fat-free mass” AND post exercise elevation of our metabolism, which lasts for approximately 24 hrs. (4,5,6)

How to make this optimal?

In order to satisfy everyones interests and improve on our fat metabolism we can include aerobic training and/or anaerobic training to supplement the resistance training.

What is Anaerobic training?

Anaerobic simply means without oxygen. (7) Examples of this with exercise would be HIIT (high intensity interval training), brief short bursts of activity, weight-lifting, sprints. In these exercises, oxygen demand surpasses oxygen supply. Aerobic exercise relies on oxygen, anaerobic exercise is fueled by energy that is already stored in our muscles, this takes place via a process known as glycolysis.

Glycolysis is the process of breaking down glycogen into glucose (sugar) and further converting it into energy. During anaerobic exercise, glycolysis takes place in the muscle cell without utilizing oxygen, this helps to produce energy quickly, but also produces lactic acid as a by product. (that feeling you get when you cannot lift one more rep!)

Anaerobic training has great benefits, the ones we’re interested in here are;

  • Building and maintaining lean muscle mass

  • Boosts metabolism

  • Improves energy

In addition to these benefits, there is a significant number of research papers concluding that HIIT is an optimal approach to reducing belly fat. (8) Further to this, other research stated “Disappointingly, aerobic exercise protocols have led to negligible fat loss.”(9) (Running forever and ever and ever and ever…and ever)

What can we learn from this?

Solely doing aerobic exercise in the hope you’ll achieve your fat loss goals is a backwards approach, and you’ll end up with less muscle mass and arguably a similar ratio of fat to lean mass as when you started.

In order to get the results you want, incorporate resistance training, utilizing progressive overload (gradually increasing the load/total volume lifted) and in addition add anaerobic (sprints/HIIT) in to your training program to better achieve your goals!


  • Hartman MJ, Fields DA, Byrne NM, Hunter GR. Resistance training improves metabolic economy during functional tasks in older adults. J Str Cond Res. 2007;21:91–95.

  • Fisher G, McCarthy JP, Zuckerman PA, Bryan DR, Bickel DS, Hunter GR. Frequency of combined resistance and aerobic training in older women. J Str CondiRes. 2012;27(7):1868–1876.

  • Goran MI, Poehlman ET. Endurance training does not enhance total energy expenditure in healthy elderly persons. Am J Physiol. 1992;263:E950–E957.

  • Hunter GR, Wetzstein CJ, Fields DA, Brown A, Bamman MM. Resistance training increases total energy expenditure and free-living physical activity in older adults. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2000 Sep;89(3):977-84. doi: 10.1152/jappl.2000.89.3.977. PMID: 10956341.

  • Increased resting energy expenditure after 40 minutes of aerobic but not resistance exercise. Hunter GR, Byrne NM, Gower BA, Sirikul B, Hills AP. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2006 Nov; 14(11):2018-25.

  • Effects of exercise intensity on 24-h energy expenditure and substrate oxidation. Treuth MS, Hunter GR, Williams M. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1996 Sep; 28(9):1138-43.

  • "Anaerobic Exercise: Definition, Benefits & Examples.", 28 August 2015,

  • Irving, B., Davis, C., et al. Effect of Exercise Training Intensity on Abdominal Visceral Fat and Body Composition. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2008. 40(11), 1863-1872.

  • Boutcher SH. High-intensity intermittent exercise and fat loss. J Obes. 2011;2011:868305. doi:10.1155/2011/868305

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