Cardio training, in all of its forms, is more or less synonymous with fat loss and getting “fit”. Walking, running, aerobics, stair-steppers, bike, stationary bike and many more all constitute the loose term of cardiovascular training. When someone wants to lose weight or “get fit” they tend to do two things automatically, they diet and do cardio. This is with good reason. The way cardio works is very straight forward. The increased activity taxes the body and causes it to burn more calories. You burn more calories (and don’t eat more) and you tend to lose weight. In addition to weight loss, cardio of course has numerous health benefits. It greatly improves the heart, blood flow and pretty much every body process benefits from the activity. But as with most everything, you can get too much of a good thing. Cardio is certainly no exception.
There are a few subtle signs that maybe you are doing too much cardio or have been doing it too long. Unfortunately, its not always very obvious, and many people end up doing more cardio than is good for them for long periods of time, and this can cause some damage to the metabolism.
When you first add cardio in sufficient amounts into your daily regimen, the results are generally very noticeable. You get hungrier and you lose weight. After a while though (and usually not that long) the body adapts by adjusting its metabolism and the weight loss stops. At this point, people generally increase the amount they are doing to try to keep the weight loss train rolling in conjunction with cutting the diet. The body is very good at adapting to what is going on though and generally is very inclined to maintain its current weight. If someone is doing an hour or more of serious cardio per day and is stagnating in weight, generally it may be a good time to pull this back or stop altogether for a bit. Doing a ton of cardio for long periods of time can essentially train the body to hold weight. It becomes very efficient at using energy. While this sounds like a great thing, and it is in most cases, it’s horrible for weight loss. Look at it like increasing gas mileage on your car. You , in effect just went from getting 20mpg to 30mpg in the sense that the calories you used to burn in 20 minutes of cardio, you now can get 45 minutes of cardio out of that same calorie count.
Just like carb cycling, its not a bad idea to cycle your cardio and calorie expenditure to keep the body guessing. Doing intense cardio for a few days, then taking a couple days off to “reset” the body can often be a great strategy to avoid the body getting too used to cardio and the results coming to a halt. When you are trying to force the body into ultra low bodyfat (which is absolutely does not want to do) its necessary to trick it in a way by varying how much you eat, how much you do and taking short breaks here and there to coax it further and further. Otherwise, you may end up a highly efficient running machine able to go through a whole day on 600 calories as our body has grown accustomed to operating with no calories to burn.