A lot of people over the last several years have been hating on cardio. And I completely disagree. Cardio isn’t bad. In fact, it’s a really good thing.
It’ll help you burn more fat and reap all kinds of long-term benefits.
So don’t buy into the hype. Stop skipping your cardio. It’s too valuable for both your physique and your health. But to get the biggest benefit you need to do the right kind of cardio.
Problem is: Most people are doing cardio they simply shouldn’t. And it causes more harm than good.
I’m about to show you the two biggest culprits that are ruining cardio for people everywhere as well as what you should do instead. But first, for the sake of being thorough, we need to talk about what cardio actually is. (Spoiler alert, it’s more than jogging.)
What Is Cardio?
If you’re like most people, you probably picture someone jogging down the street or stepping stairs at the gym when you hear “cardio.” And while both certainly qualify as different types, they don’t come close to defining it. This does:
Cardiovascular activity, or “cardio,” is any activity that sustains an elevated heart rate for an extended period of time.
That’s it. It’s that simple.
And because it’s so broad, the list of things that can fall into the cardio category is practically endless. Anything you do that keeps your heart rate up is considered cardiovascular activity. (Aka, cardio.) Jogging, walking, swimming, dancing, mobility work, tennis, ping pong, fooseball—they can all count.
Truth be told, one form of cardio isn’t inherently better or worse than the other. Any sort of regular cardiovascular exercise will help burn more fat and improve overall health. As long as it keeps your heart rate up, you’re “doing cardio.” Huzzah.
Make sense? Cool.
Now that we’ve covered what cardio actual is let’s talk about the two types of cardio you definitely shouldn’t do.
The Only Two Types of Cardio You Shouldn’t Do
Sure, any kind cardiovascular activity is going to help you lose fat and be healthier. In theory. But there are a couple you really shouldn’t do. Like, ever.
1. Cardio That Makes You Hate
Real talk. I sorta hate jogging.
But I’m a fitness guy so I must do it anyway, right? Not at all. I don’t enjoy it, so I don’t do it.
Here’s the thing: When your exercise program is full of things you don’t enjoy, you’re less likely to follow it. For me, that’s jogging. Some people love jogging. And that’s totally okay. Jogging isn’t bad, but doing something you hate for cardio is.
If you find yourself hating your daily run, stop.
If you find yourself dreading the stair stepper, don’t do it.
Cardio you hate is cardio you skip. And when you skip it, you don’t get any of the amazing benefits like shedding more fat or boosting overall health.
In fact, you’re better off not even scheduling cardio you know you won’t do.
With that mind, go ahead and take any cardio you hate out of your program. Trust me, I’m a professional.
2. Cardio That Makes You Hurt
I tore my patellar tendon doing one of my favorite fitnessy things—hill sprints. (Bt-dubs, the injury had little to do with the hill sprints themselves. It was an accumulation of several different things. In other words, don’t be afraid of hill sprints. They’re actually better for injury avoidance than sprinting on flat ground.)
Unfortunately, my knee hasn’t been the same since the injury. Some things hurt and some things don’t. Usually, sprinting is something that hurts. Sad face.
Sprinting is one of my favorite things in the world of fitness. But because it makes me hurt, I rarely—if ever—do it.
Simply put, fitness should make you better. Not worse. Your workouts should make you feel like a boss, not like you’ve been hit by a bus.
If you find yourself hurting when you’re jumping rope, stop.
If you find yourself dying on the rowing machine, don’t do it.
Seems logical, right? But you’d be surprised how many people live by the asinine no-pain-no-gain strategy. Don’t be one of those people. It’s foolish. Your body deserves better than that.
Instead of the Cardio You Shouldn’t Do, Do This
Obviously, cardiovascular activity includes a lot of different types of exercise. (We’ve covered this.) And honestly, there’s no way to include an exhaustive list in this piece. Not concisely anyway.
So what should you do instead of the two types of cardio you shouldn’t do?
Literally anything else.
Don’t overcomplicate things. As long as you enjoy it and it doesn’t hurt, go for it. Have fun with it.
When you start to enjoy your cardio and feel great as a result, you’ll do it more often. And the more consistent you are with your cardio, the better results you’ll get. You’ll burn more fat, you’ll be more healthy, and you’ll have fun along the way.
Who doesn’t want to do that kind of cardio?
To get started today, all you’ve got to do is cut the cardio you hate and the cardio that hurts.