Submitted by Michael Olander, President/CEO of O2 Fitness
Have you ever thought that it’s important not only to do cardio training, but that it’s also important to decide on the best time of day and the right intensity? Everyone seems to have their own opinions on the key moment to optimize your chance to burn fat in relation to aerobic activity, but many of these opinions are based largely on anecdotal evidence or personal interpretations of scientific studies.
Here’s everything you need to know to avoid missing a chance to burn a little fat.
- Cardio first thing in the morning gets your adrenaline pumping and fires up your metabolism for the rest of the day. Given that when you wake up your body temperature and adrenaline release are at a minimum, if you get into a consistent habit of training in the morning, you’ll actually change the phases of your biological clock. Unfortunately, although the most fat is burned in the morning, it’s not just fat that gets burned. The proteins in your muscles do too, so in order to protect your hard-working muscles, only do cardio training after you’ve eaten a high-protein breakfast.
- Cardio before and after weight training: if you decide that morning cardio isn’t for you because you’re just not a morning person, you have other options. Like the old saying goes, “Which comes first, the cardio or the weights?”
- Some studies conducted in the sports physiology department at the University of Kansas (USA) recommend doing your cardio before weight training, since it might be difficult to run or ride your bike after an intense weight training session. To achieve the intensity and duration needed to burn enough calories to lose weight, the best solution is to do your cardio and then lift weights. Unfortunately, as many studies stress, to a certain extent this can compromise strength and the development of lean mass.
- Basically, if you’re working toward muscle mass, we recommend the opposite approach. Do your weight training right after warming up, when your energy levels are their highest.
- Cardio on the days you don’t lift weights: if cutting fat and developing muscle mass are both important for you, do your cardio on the days you don’t lift weights. Scientific literature indicates that overall energy consumption is higher if aerobic training and weight training are done on different days. This requires more training days each week, which has a greater effect on the basal metabolism, leading to even more fat loss.
Regardless of when you decide to do your cardio, remember that a little cardio is always better than none. In any case you’ll benefit: higher calorie consumption, a larger reduction in fat, and a general sense of well-being, to mention just a few. The best way to maintain a consistent training program is to do cardio training at the time of day that best suits your life and your commitments.