When it’s done properly, cardio can help you improve your health, lose fat faster, and even build muscle. When done improperly, however, cardio can actually have the opposite effect—it can impair your health, prevent you from losing weight, and negatively impact the composition of your body. If you’re trying to lose weight, you may find yourself asking the following questions: “How much cardio should I do a day? How many times should I do cardio per week? How many minutes of cardio should I be doing per session?” Here are the answers!
How Much Cardio Should I Do a Day to Lose Weight?
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, you should perform either 30-60 minutes of moderate cardio 5 times per week or 20 minutes of intense cardio 3 times per week. Either option is adequate for the maintenance of your weight and general health. Those who are trying to lose weight and elevate their level of fitness may wish to consider exceeding these basic guidelines by lengthening the duration of their workouts or opting to exercise on an almost daily basis.
No one can tell you exactly how much cardio is too much; however, an amount exceeding 60-70 minutes of cardio per day will most likely be counterproductive, especially if you are not consuming enough calories or protein to compensate for the calories you expend when you exercise.
Are Cardio Workouts the More the Better?
Our society is horribly misinformed about fat loss. Many people seem to think that if you starve yourself and do two to three hours of cardio per day, the fat will simply melt off their bodies. In actuality, doing too much cardio puts your body into a catabolic state, in which your body ends up burning your hard-earned muscle. The resultant loss of muscle not only reduces your strength—it also slows down your metabolism. If your metabolism becomes too slow, you’ll have an even harder time burning fat.
In short, you should do exactly as much cardio as is necessary to accomplish whatever goal you have in mind that has you considering cardio in the first place. You should not be doing so much cardio that it has a negative effect on any of the other goals you are currently working towards.
Cardio Tips to Lose Weight
Besides knowing how much cardio should I do a day, you should also do the right kind of exercises. The best cardio exercises for losing weight depend entirely on your own unique physical abilities, limitations, and personal preferences. If you prefer to jog, then you should jog. If you prefer to walk, then you should walk. If you enjoy basketball, play basketball! Those who enjoy doing a little bit of everything should consider cross-training, which will allow them to do a little bit of everything. To get an effective cardio workout, all you need to do is find something that you enjoy doing on a daily basis and focus on being as consistent as possible with that particular activity. In order to be successful in the long term, it’s best to attempt to lose no more than 1-2 pounds per week. The following video shows more cardio tips and recommended workout schedule:
What Does Too Much Cardio Feel Like?
Still wondering how much cardio should I do a day? How much is too much? Ask yourself those questions:
Is your weight training performance going well? Do you find that you are maintaining or improving your level of strength? Do your workouts generally feel okay? If you can answer “yes” to all of these questions, you can safely assume that you’re doing fine.
But if your weight training performance is starting to drop off significantly, your strength levels are beginning to noticeably decrease, or you notice that you’re feeling borderline dead during your workouts, you should be aware that you are probably not okay.
You should also be sure to pay attention to how you feel outside of the gym. Are you generally feeling good? Given that you are in a caloric deficit for the purpose of losing fat, do you feel somewhat normal? If you do, you are more than likely just fine.
If you’re feeling markedly more run down, tired, and “out of it” than you usually do, or if you’re having trouble sleeping or getting sick more often that you normally do, then you might be doing a bit too much cardio. If either your body or your mind seems to be acting sluggish, that’s a definite sign that you should consider cutting back.