For example, if you're looking to lose weight, you first need to create a caloric deficit. If you're consuming more than what you burn, you won’t lose weight.
American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that you do 60 to 90 minutes of exercise 5 days per week for weight loss. This equals between 300 to 450 minutes of exercise per week.
That sounds like a lot but the people that I have seen have the most success with weight loss are doing it. Assuming half of that exercise is aerobic and the other half is anaerobic, the recommendations are accurate.
The guidelines for vigorous activity also are pretty on point. HIIT training can be more effective for weight loss than moderate cardio due to the afterburn (EPOC) effect. The body burns more calories post-exercise than after steady-state/ moderate exercise, but this all depends upon your nutrition.
In my opinion, cardio should be done straight and not broken up into parts during the day. Fat takes a lot of energy to burn and if you are breaking down your cardio into three 10 minute moderate workouts in a day instead of one 30 minute workout you aren’t going to burn fat as efficiently.
What if your goal is to gain muscle? Should you stick with the recommendations or tweak them?
If your goal is to increase muscle, then you will want to reduce the amount of cardio. Doing long bouts of cardio will burn muscle and workouts of more than 30 minutes can decrease your ability to build muscle. Fortunately, short sessions of high-intensity cardio such as sprints actually build muscle.
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