Why Cardio is Killing Your Results


Charles Poliquin is a Canadian strength coach who has most likely forgotten more than I will ever know about the science of training and nutrition, so when he talks about fitness, you can be sure it’s a well thought out and compelling argument.


“Jogging and tons of cardio are great for weight loss. So are cancer and AIDS.”


Woah…. Yea…. I was surprised also by that…. actually, let’s just move on….

There is a lot of misinformation about the merits of cardio out there, and I think that most people are not totally sure where they stand on the issue of weight loss in general, and cardio in particular.
Now, when I say “cardio”, I’m talking about it as most people understand it, that is extended sessions of moderate intensity activity, i.e. jogging, biking, swimming, using the treadmill, the stair-master, running marathons, triathlons, etc. This will henceforth be referred too as CVT (cardiovascular training).

A QUICK WARNING: If you like doing cardio and don’t want to read about anything negative, leave my page. Here’s a link to a video of me doing something silly.

If you love running, and wouldn’t want to do anything else, by all means, read on, but you’re not allowed to comment. You keep running, I’m glad you like it. Do triathlons, marathons, ultra-marathons, run across the Gobi desert, I don’t care. Something is wrong with your head, but it’s OK, because you’re doing what you love.

Solely doing cardio is bad. It’s ineffective. It’s stupid. Tomorrow, when you go to the gym and run on the treadmill, you’ll be stupid too.

I had a great dream last night, where I was at the gym, and I smashed every stupid treadmill with a sledgehammer.


Then I was flying and I was a dragon, and then I was in high school again and I hadn’t brought pants. But that was still awesome because my legs are extremely sexy. Like I said, it was a great dream.

Think of cardio as an abusive relationship. You work hard all day, your boss is an asshole, your coworkers smell like old cats, and your car has no A.C. You finally leave work, but then come home to what?

Some rotten bastard who has been sitting around in his own stench eating your potato chips watching the Maury Povitch show on your new leather couch, and he’s probably getting crumbs everywhere. “BABE” he says, “GET ME A BEER K?”

You oblige, because you’re a nice person, but deep down inside you’re wondering how long you have to deal with this human bag of fecal matter before you can kick off your shoes, have dinner and katch up with kloe, kim, krista, kandi, and the rest of those krazy kardashians.

This photo is overly dramatic to showcase the inherent dangers of only ever doing cardio.

Yet, that’s what happens.

You’re stressed from work, but you drag yourself to the gym, only to be berated by your particular flavor of sadistic exercise machine. You put a ton of work in, it’s exhausting, but at the end of the day you get nothing out of it but more stress in your life and a bad taste in your mouth.

Let’s face it, you have a busy life. You can’t spend 3 hours at the gym everyday. You need to maximize your time spent on anything that makes you busier or provides your body with more stress. Exercise is a stressor no matter how you look at it, so it might as well treat you like a superstar princess.


Here are 4 reasons you should ditch the treadmill for some weight training.

  1. Doing the same type of CVT stops being effective after 6 weeks.
  2.  Your body stops losing fat, because of your overall efficiency, and starts burning muscle tissue instead.
  3. Your cortisol (stress hormone) levels increase, which decreases your ability to recover, and increasing belly fat storage
  4. Your immune system becomes depressed.


CVT is good for someone who has ZERO work capacity, and needs to start from the very bottom, but that person would never be able to do 45 minutes on an elliptical or treadmill.

We as humans are genetically engineered for short bursts of energy, followed by a period of rest. This will actually increase your level of aerobic ability, your heart function, your lung capacity and your ability to recover WAY better than CVT.

Here are some guidelines to adhere to in the gym next time you’re thinking about grabbing a quick cardio sesh:
  1. Use moderate intensity exercise only as a warmup or cool-down. Think 10 minutes MAX.
  2.  Incorporate weight training into your routine. Feel free to move quickly through your workout, breath heavily, and sweat. but….
  3.  Leave the gym feeling better than when you entered
  4.  Stay on the extremes of the cardio scale. Sprint or walk. Don’t jog. You can sprint on a bike or elliptical also. (More on that later)
  5. Adhere to the pyramid of effective weight loss.


  1. For most people, swimming is fine because it’s super hard, and not many people can go and swim for an hour. (4 laps just about ruins my day), But the more efficient you get at it, the less I like it.
    The best form of ‘cardio’ is the least efficient. (sprinting, sled dragging, pushing a car, walking while carrying a 5 gallon jug of water etc)

  2. I have recently built up enough endurance to swim 45 minutes without stopping. I mix in sprints, swim with only my arms, bought flippers to increase resistance with my legs, and use hand paddles to increase resistance when swimming with only my arms. Thoughts? I’m not trying to lose weight, more working on getting leaner.

    • If you’re working on getting leaner, clean up your diet, take advantage of the eating window around your workout, do full body resistance training 3x per week, and sprint 1-2x per week. Sleep 8 hours per night, and stop drinking alcohol.
      If you’re doing this, feel free to swim as much as you want.

  3. You are correct on all counts. I’ve adopted the approach you suggest here and lost three inches off my waist in less than three months. No more long cardio sessions — just P90X weight training, HIIT cardio, walking, and yoga/stretching for flexibility.

    In the old days, I would wrap up each training session with extended cardio, seduced by the calories burned gauge, and never saw results like this.

  4. My problem is…..The sprinting seems to make my anxiety worse, CNS…errrr I love it, but it just wrecks my anxiety brain… Jogging can also be draining..

    Weights tend to cause the same as sprints to lesser degree.

    I AM DOOMED. Maybe I will wait it out until, I feel less CNS Burn out.

    • Hey Gary! Are you talking about running sprints or any type of sprints (rowing/cycling/etc). You might want to try taking up a different cardio approach and see how that feels.

      Also it sounds like you could probably benefit from some yoga or mediation to help with the anxiety, I know I feel much more at peace after a yoga training. Hope that’s helpful bro


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here