How much cardio should I do per day to lose weight?

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Stephen Holt, Timonium personal trainer

Millions of readers of national fitness magazines including Shape, Women's Health, Fitness. Woman's Day, Family Circle, Runner's World, (and many others) have made their exercise programs both more effective AND more efficient with fitness and nutrition advice from "America's Baby Boomer Expert," Stephen Holt.

A client just asked me,
“How much cardio do I need to do per day to lose weight?”

And I responded,

“You don’t have to to any.”


We used to think that if you wanted to lose fat, you had to run, bike/spin, or ellipt (hmm, there’s no convenient verb for that) a lot.

Resistance training, we were told once upon a time, wasn’t effective for weight loss. Besides, it makes you big and bulky, right?

Well, now we know that’s just not true.

Science shows that weight training is more effective than cardio for losing weight.

That’s because weight training, unlike cardio, burns calories long after you’re done exercising.

[In the biz we call this EPOC (pronounced “E – pock”), which stands for Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption, and the effect can increase your metabolism throughout the day for as long as 36 hours after your workout is over.]


Bodybuilders follow specific protocols and techniques to develop huge muscles.

All you have to do to NOT get bulky is to NOT follow those specific protocols and techniques. It’s really that simple.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do cardio, too (if you want to). Run, ride, spin, swim and to your heart’s content (pun intended ). In fact, I recommend high intensity cardio exercise and interval training twice a week for the best weight loss results.

But if you’ve been shy about resistance training, don’t be. Let me show you how powerful you are – and how powerful strength training is to reach your weight-loss goals. If you’re looking for a personal trainer in Lutherville Timonium, click here to get started with a free 1-week trial at 29 again.

(Or message me here to get started with your online training plan if that’s a better fit for you).

More questions on Cardio Workouts

Which cardio burns the most fat?

Your choice of cardio workout doesn’t make much of a difference when your goal is simply to get down to a healthy weight.

“Type” is easily the least important factor in what we fitness pros call the FITT Model:

That’s Frequency (for example, walking 3-4 times per week)

Intensity (whether you’re doing high intensity interval training, or you choose to exercise at a lower intensity)

The amount of Time you exercise (whether you choose to exercise for 45 minutes, 60 minutes at a time – or 150 minutes a week)

and Type (Examples include cardiovascular exercise that raises your heart rate, lower intensity movement like walking, or simply adding more healthy movement throughout your day)

Is it OK to do cardio everyday?

If you have the time, it’s certainly fine to do moderate intensity cardio every day. In fact, medical health experts recommend you get about 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise most days a week.

I suggest you do at least 2 strength training sessions (covering all muscle groups) per week to maintain your muscle mass. If you find you need to burn more calories to lose weight, then it’s time to add cardio for weight loss.

Is 30 minutes of cardio enough to lose weight?

Maybe. It all depends on the calories you burn versus the number of calories you’re putting in your mouth. You’ll lose weight and burn fat if you eat fewer calories or burn more calories through physical activity, or, preferably, a combination of the two.

Your main focus should be on having a calorie deficit – more calories out than calories in – if you need to lose weight.

Will cardio burn belly fat?

Well, yes. And no.

Cardio (nor any other specific form of exercise) will directly burn belly fat or burn fat in any specific part of your body.

You have no more control over where you lose fat than you do over where you gain fat. Aerobic exercise and/or any other type of exercise will help you lose fat all over especially when combined with eating in a way that supports your goals. (Notice I didn’t say “diet.”)


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