Cutting without cardio
Does the thought of spending time on the treadmill terrify you? Does the idea of hill sprints fill you with dread? Cardio in general can be tough for people who aren’t used to it. It can leave you hot, sweaty and gasping for breath. It does increase cardiovascular health, but it’s not essential for people trying to lose weight.
That’s right – you can cut without doing traditional cardio. There’s no denying that sprints or HIIT can really help you melt body fat as it ups your metabolic rate to burn more calories, but for those determined few who want to avoid cardio entirely you can still get a ripped physique. Here’s how…
Keeping your caloric intake down
Not all food is created equally, but the main macronutrients are still the same and calories are the most important weight loss factor. If you work out your caloric maintenance levels and subtract 100-200 calories, you’ll lose weight. Your body fat levels don’t properly understand the difference between burning 1,000 calories through exercise or you eating 1,000 less calories. However, you still need to understand nutrients in order to cut down properly.
Fats, carbs and protein in food are the body’s energy sources. Protein and carbohydrates contain four calories per gram and fat provides nine. Carbs are burned first, then fats, then protein as a last resort.
Avoiding processed carbs
When you’re trying to lose weight, you need to drop your carbohydrate intake so that you aren’t storing any excess as fat. This is due to how carbs work – they enter the body and are converted to glucose to replenish the body. If they’re not needed, they are then stored as fat.
For people who want to cut, this means avoiding processed (refined) carbohydrates such as white rice and bread unless you take them immediately after training when your body needs the glucose. Cut out sugary foods and stick to wholegrain, low-gi carbohydrates such as brown rice and sweet potatoes pre-training. Cutting down on carbs is a technique most wrestlers and martial artists perform during a weight cut, as it makes a massive difference to your physique.
However, unlike those people who are on crash plans where they try to drop lots of weight before a competition, you need to sustain your cut through many weeks.
Avoid saturated and trans fat
Healthy fats are full of essential fatty acids and are good for the body. Even during a cut, you should still get a small amount of fat into your diet – but avoid saturated and trans fat which is the complete reverse of your weight loss goals.
Keep your protein intake up
When you’re cutting calories, you’ll be hungry more often. As you cut weight, you’ll need to be keeping your protein intake high to maintain your muscle mass.
So – to lose weight without cardio (or exercise) all you need to do is work out your caloric intake. Use a calculator like this one and then subtract from the calories you’d need to maintain weight. Count each and every calorie that you consume each day and don’t cheat. The weight will start to come off. Cardio only makes the process easier as you can eat more calories, since you’re burning them through exercise.
Speaking of exercise…
Lifting weights for cutting
If you’re trying to lose weight without cardio, you can still hit the gym and drop calories. All of the compound lifts stress the central nervous system and heighten your metabolic rate. The more muscle mass is built, the more calories are burned as muscle tissue burns more calories.
Upping reps and dropping rest periods
You’ll also need to drop your rest periods down and up the volume, which will provide a cardio-style workout just from lifting. Switching between upper body and lower body lifts and cutting down on rest during your workout in a circuit-style fashion will help spread out fatigue and force your body into the aerobic energy system. It takes two minutes for the aerobic system to start working, so drop the weight slightly and perform sets that last around 45 seconds. For example, perform a workout such as:
In conclusion then, to maintain a successful cutting period without ever hitting the treadmill, all you have to do is cut down on your caloric intake whilst changing how you approach your weight sessions.
By upping the volume and decreasing rest periods alongside your decrease in calories, you’ll start burning fat – but make sure you consume adequate protein to avoid muscle breakdown and keep building lean mass.