The reality is long slow distance cardio is boring, its time wasting, it may cause injury, and while it may burn some fat it will also burn precious muscle giving you that not very attractive 'skinny fat' look as you can see in the picture below. It will NOT give you results and it will NOT give you the desired shape you are longing for.
|Marathon runner on the left and a sprinter on the right. A marked difference in body composition you'll agree.|
So which would you rather be?
Now I am not completely ditching the idea of LSDC in some cases it may be all you can do. Such as you being obese or very overweight or you are coming back from rehab. Then it is not a bad place to start, you could walk for a time or a distance and better this over a given period. But please don't get stuck in this one 'mode' look outside the box and challenge yourself for greater rewards.
So lets look at what research tells us about cardio and body compositions, here is the first of three studies:
1. Utter AC et al - Influence of diet and / or exercise on body composition and cardiorespiratory fitness in obese women - International Journal of Sports Nutrition September 1998 - In this 3 month study, women did 45 minutes of cardio a day 5 days per week and lost no more weight than those who dieted alone.
2. Redman et al - The effect of calorie restriction with or without exercise on body composition and fat distribution - The Journal of Clinical Endocrinol Metabolism January 2007 - In this study subjects did 50 minutes of cardio 5 days per week and lost no more weight than those who dieted alone.
What about an hour x 6 days of the week, any better results? A resounding NO!
3. McTiernan et al - Exercise effect on weight and body fat on men and women.- Obesity Journal June 2007 - Over the course of 1 year, subjects performed 1 hour of aerobic exercise 6 days per week and lost just 3.5 lbs on average over the entire year!
Now don't know about you, but to me that's pretty soul destroying. There has to be a better way, surely? And yes, that way is interval training or commonly known these days as HIIT or VIIT. HIIT high intensity and VIIT variable intensity interval training is bursts of intense exercise alternated with a recovery burst. Repeated for a period of time. This way of training can be applied on cardio machines mentioned above (but its certainly not LSDC) and also works very well with body weight exercises and weights.
The 'Tabata' fat loss method has also become very popular again. It is the same principles as mentioned, bursts with recovery. It is made up of 8 lots of 20 seconds effort with 10 seconds recovery, so you are working for a total of 4 minutes. May not sound a lot but believe me it is quite taxing. But because it is hard work, your body will have a lot of repairing to do and while it is doing this your body will be burning from your fat stores. While LSDC may burn a small proportion of fat while you are doing it you will also recover very quickly. You don't get an after burn effect like you do when doing interval training.
It's the way to go, stay tuned for some interval ideas. But if you can't wait that long check out my previous 'Legs & Lungs' workouts and make a start with them, you won't regret it :)
Till next time, all the best
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