Cardio Questions:

Cardio is short for cardiovascular exercise, or in other words exercise which raises your heart rate. Now for some of us, beginners especially, almost any form of exercise will raise your heart rate to some extent. However in general when we think of cardio exercises, they are the types of exercise that are continuous in nature and use large muscle groups (most commonly the legs) often with little or no applied additional resistance. Examples would be walking, running, cycling, swimming and so on.

Now although I am a firm believer in resistance training being the most beneficial form of training, for virtually every goal, apart from increased cardiovascular endurance, I do still think cardio should play a very large part in most people’s training regimen.

Now the questions!

What is fasted cardio, and is it the best form of cardio for fat loss?


Fasted cardio is training when the body is in an unfed or fasted state. The theory behind fasted cardio is that the body has not taken in any food (or fuel) so it will have to resort to fat stores as an energy source to power through the workout. Virtually every day of the year you can log onto social media and see endless amounts of early birds starting their days off with fasted cardio of some kind. Sometimes at quite ridiculous hours of the morning. I have seen some people posting videos and pictures of cardio sessions at 4:00a.m or even earlier.

As for fasted cardio being the “best” type of cardio for fat loss. The answer is up for debate, but personally I believe it doesn’t actually offer any hugely significant benefits over training later in the day. Having said that, I have used fasted cardio in my own training, as well as my clients and will continue to do so. The reason for this is not just because of the time of day, or the fact that the body is in a fasted state. For me personally, there are mental health benefits of starting my day with a workout of some kind. I feel more refreshed, energised, alert and ready to start my day. I also try to avoid gyms as much as possible for me cardio, instead opting for outdoor hikes, or walks usually in the regional park in Ballincollig. During these cardio sessions I try to plan and visualise my day and week ahead, mentally preparing myself for what lies ahead.


Other than this however, fat loss comes down to thermodynamics, or calories consumed versus calories burned. So, if you do participate in fasted cardio, but then over indulge on breakfast as a “reward” then you are back to square one, with all fat stores restored again as per prior to the workout. For me the BEST time to do cardio is….. the time that suits YOU!! That is the only important factor and is another reason why I cannot understand people who rise at 4:00a.m for training sessions. In my opinion, most of them are probably as interested in creating content and getting likes on social media, as they are in the actual science behind their fasted cardio training. Once you do your cardio at some point in your day, that is all that truly matters.

Which is better, H.I.I.T or L.I.S.S cardio?

H.I.I.T cardio stands for High Intensity Interval Training, while L.I.S.S is, Low Intensity Steady State. Here the answers are a lot clearer in my opinion, yet for some reason many people still advocate and participate in body forms of cardio. To a certain extent I do too myself, but as mentioned above, my own personal cardio workouts are quite often focused more so on mental preparation and well being as opposed to a specific fat loss goal. For dropping body fat, the absolute clear runaway winner is HIIT. For years it was believed that HIIT was too intense for anyone involved in weight training and that HIIT would work against you as the intensity involved would in fact burn muscle. However, the exact opposite has been proven true time and time again in numerous studies throughout the world.


LISS does have its place in some people’s training plans. The unfit beginner will simply not be capable of participating in many lengthy HIIT workouts, plus anyone who is unfortunately largely overweight has the potential to cause injury during certain forms of HIIT training as the impact forces are too high. So in these cases and certain others LISS cardio can be used to begin with, and once the person in question is capable of taking part in HIIT they can then make the switch over.

The benefits of HIIT training over LISS are numerous in my eyes, but a massive one for people with busy lifestyles is simply the shorter duration. A HIIT workout should realistically be no longer than 30 – 35 minutes, and if it is, you probably aren’t actually doing HIIT because you should be pushing yourself so hard that your simply cannot perform for that length of time. I have quite a few clients that will do just 4 minutes of HIIT cardio per session (1 Tabata drill), but on average about 20 minutes of properly applied HIIT training is more than enough. LISS on the other hand you have to dedicate at least double that before you start to see any sort of benefits. In fact for either myself or my clients, if I am ever recommending LISS training, the minimum duration guideline is always 45 minutes of more.

On top of this, as mentioned above, HIIT training will actually promote muscle growth. When performing HIIT cardio, we recruit our type 1 explosive muscle fibres. The same muscle fibres used during strength training. As a result, this added stimulus on your explosive muscle fibres can lead to an increase in muscle size and strength provided all the other components such as correct nutrition and recovery are also in place.


Hopefully this has helped to answer some of your questions about cardio training, but as always feel free to get in touch if you would like to learn or ask any more!


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