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Home » Health and Wellness

Muscle Mondays – Is Cardio Exercise Necessary?

Submitted by on Sunday, 19 October 20085 Comments

Welcome back to Muscle Mondays at the Dad Jam!  Over to our resident fitness expert, FitandBusyDad, Chris Lopez, for Part 5 of this special 5 part series….

In our previous 4 parts of the inaugural Muscle Monday series we debunked the myths about lack of time for exercise by showing you that you can get up earlier, that you don’t need an hour or a gym membership even (!) to get a good workout in and that doing the dreaded “Monday Reset” will only hinder your results.

Today, we turn the tables upside down as I present you with an idea that some people in my field would think ridiculous and would have most medical doctors call for my head…

Get off the Elliptical Trainer, Treadmill, Bike, {insert your cardio method HERE}

Wasting your busy life away doing cardio exercises?

Wasting your busy life away doing cardio exercises?

I don’t do ANY cardio (I hate running).  I come from an athletic background where 800m is long distance.  I think it’s a complete waste of time.

Truth be told, it really isn’t necessary.  Even Dr. Kenneth Cooper, the pioneer of aerobic exercise and founder of the world famous Cooper Institute said that his thoughts on the efficacy of traditional cardiovascular exercise for health might have been wrong.

In fact, a study was done1 back in 1999 where 2 groups were monitored – a diet & resistance training only group and a diet & cardio-only group.  To control the study each group consumed an 800-calorie per day liquid diet.

At the completion of the study the resistance training group lost significantly more fat than the cardio group and did not lose any lean muscle, even at only 800 calories per day. Additionally, the resistance-training group actually increased metabolism compared to the aerobic group, which decreased metabolism.  (This, by the way, is one of many studies disproving that cardiovascular exercise isn’t the most efficient way to burn fat.  I won’t mention them, but if you’d like to see more, just send me an email).

The take home point is the effect on your metabolism.  As busy dads with no time to workout or exercise, we need to concentrate on those activities that give us the most “bang for our buck”.

Cardio, as evidenced above, just doesn’t do that when we need to lose weight or stay in shape…it actually reduces metabolism!  We shouldn’t necessarily be concerned with the amount (of calories) that we burn during the activity – the QUANTITY.  That was a flawed concept from the ‘80s that should have died with puffy shoulder pads and the Flock of Seagulls haircuts.  The “bang for your buck” part occurs post-workout with the amount that we burn throughout the rest of the day – a phenomenon call EPOC (Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption).  Clearly, resistance training (in the form of bodyweight training or weight training done in a circuit style) is the most efficient way to do that because of the QUALITY of exercise that it is.

***Now keep in mind that if you’re a cardio or bust type of person then doing something is far better than doing nothing at all. If that’s the case, then treadmill, elliptical or bike away! Just remember though, if you’re going to do something, why not do it the RIGHT way the first time around instead of wasting your time.***

OK, so now you’re probably asking, “What about my heart?”  Isn’t cardio necessary for me to be around to see my grandkids when I’m 75?

Surprisingly, resistance training can have the same positive effects on your heart as traditional cardiovascular exercise.  It’s actually much healthier from a physiological standpoint.

For example, try performing a bodyweight circuit of squats, push-ups, lunges and chin-ups.  Do that circuit, with 10 reps for each exercise, 3 times in a row without stopping.  If you’re heart isn’t beating out of your chest by the time you’re done, then you’re probably superhuman and you don’t need to worry about heart health.

Here’s a thought…  Heart disease and diabetes is directly linked to carrying excess weight (particularly in our abdomen).  So, if reducing the amount of body fat that we have in storage will allow our hearts to work less and be more efficient, isn’t that promoting “heart health” as well?

The other downside to traditional cardio training is that it’s repetitive. You are using the same muscles, performing the same movement for usually over 500 to 1000 repetitions in one session. Because there is a lack of variation, you are risking over-working some muscles and completely under-working and shutting down others. This leads to overuse injuries primarily in the ankles, knees, hips and lower back.

Also, the impact of running on your joints is very damaging. The average runner puts 3-5 times his bodyweight on one leg for each stride he takes. As mentioned above, you’re taking anywhere from 500 to 1000 strides per session. Now imagine that you’re 10 or 20lbs overweight and you’re putting 3 to 5 times your bodyweight on your poor ankles, knees, hips & low back and I can almost guarantee that you’ll get some form of overuse or impact injury in a matter of 2 weeks.

All in all, the goal of this article series was to eliminate excuses and to show you that YOU DO HAVE TIME to workout and get back in shape.  It’s our responsibility as fathers and family men to be there for our kids and to set an example of making our health a priority.

I think it’s great to be successful and to be able to provide our kids and our families with the lives they deserve, but I don’t think that it should be done at ANY cost (meaning sacrificing our health for the sake of working more).  In the end, we’re really only affecting the ones we love the most.  We owe it to them to be around as long as possible.


Chris Lopez is a fitness expert, writer and personal trainer.  He is an occasional contributor to the Globe and Mail, Maximum Fitness and Men’s Fitness Magazines.  He and his wife Rozanne live in Toronto, Canada with their 4 daughters.  Sign-up for your free report & workout at www.FitAndBusyDad.com or visit Chris’ blog at FitAndBusyDad.blogspot.com

1Bryner et al.

Effects of resistance vs. aerobic training combined with an 800 calorie liquid diet on lean body mass and resting metabolic rate.

J Am Coll Nutr. 1999 Apr;18(2):115-21.

**Flickr photo courtesy of MoToMo**


A special thank-you from the Dad Jam goes out to Chris Lopez for this amazing five part Muscle Monday series!  You can look forward to more great articles from Chris on the Dad Jam in the future too!  If you are a father or parent, and would like to share your story with the world, contact me.  You are welcome to join the jam and share your stories or advice here at the Dad Jam!

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  • I can’t stand running either although my wife has always been a big runner. We usually keep it short but I still can’t get into it.

    Great series and I’ve bookmarked these so I can come back later on. Thanks again to Chris, and to you Vince, for putting this together.

    Tyler @ Building Camelot’s last blog post..Connect With Your Kids and Spouse With Table Topics

  • Head Jammer says:

    No problem Tyler, glad you liked the series. I am the same as you when it comes to running… my wife does, but I have never been able to get into it. If I were to do any cardio, it would have to be something I enjoy, like rollerblading or ice skating, rather than running or standing on an elliptical trainer.

  • Darren says:

    I am a hater or cardio. It’s just boring. I would rather be doing circuit or interval workouts. It’s a shorter workout with the same results. No Brainer.
    Darren´s last blog ..12 Minute Best Fat Burning Workout 9My ComLuv Profile

  • rushi says:

    try to keep weight training and aerobic work on separate days or least on a morning/evening split so as they don’t infer with each other. Forcing the body to adapt to too many things at once, especially while in caloric deficit will almost certainly bring stagnation and sub-optimal results

  • Demi says:

    First of all thanks for this great article. I really like your articles. Keep on the good work.

    I completely agree with Darren cardio is boring and totally not fun to do, but I still do it because it really is good for your body and body shape.
    Demi´s last blog ..waterkokerMy ComLuv Profile

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