How much cardio?

How much cardio should I do?

Should I do cardio outside of my training sessions here?

Why don’t you have any cardio machines?

Just a sample of the questions I get asked by new members here at SF Fitness

Understandably they’re confused…

cardio sf fitnessWalk into any mainstream gym and you’ll see rake loads of cardio machines

From treadmills to steppers and cross trainers to bikes

But did you know every single machine in there is a cardio machine?

Including the snack machine <– True story, lemme explain…

The word cardio conjures images of fat burning exercises. Typically used for weight loss and increasing fitness.

But cardio simply means cardiovascular

And that refers to your body pumping oxygen and nutrients around your body. Which you do every moment of every day.

You reading this are in fact doing cardio right now, go you.

Problem is you’re not burning enough calories to have any sort of effect on your fitness or waist size

Unless you’re one of those fuckers who sits on the exercise bike while checking their phone

In which case, put the phone away and peddle faster you lazy piece shit

And that’s the problem with cardio as you know it

It’s all about spending TIME doing cardio.

But nobody pushes themselves hard enough to make dents in their love handles, nice sexy dents that is

A few years back I was the fitness expert on a TV programme called How Healthy Are You?health kicks concepts

One of the episodes was on walking

And how to make it more effective

Eh walk faster? Run? What else could I say?

But alas they had come across this new craze and I had to give my honest opinion on it

Oh dear…

There’s this thing called Nordic Walking 

‘Claims’ to burn a whopping 20% extra calories than ‘normal walking’, or walking as I like to call it.

It involves using special poles to help you walk, even though your legs work perfectly fine. And there’s a special technique to use these poles to maximise the calorie burning effect.

And these aren’t hiking or trekking poles. No these are very special poles apparently. They’d want to be for up to 95 sterling!

So armed with your poles you’ll look like an intrepid explorer ready to cross the Antarctic

But you’re just walking up Ticknock so you’ll look like a complete idiot. Unless you join a Nordic Walking group (yes there are such things) in which case you can all look like idiots together.nordic_walking_poles

Look I’ve no problem with walking or hiking. My problem is with selling sticks/a specialised walking technique that claims to make walking burn more calories so you can lose weight faster.

20% extra calories remember?

Ohhh sounds like a lot right.


You walk for 30 mins and you’ll be lucky to burn 200 calories

What’s 20% of 200?

40 calories.

Just over 1% of the stored calories in a pound of body fat

Don’t be fooled.

Even a couple of hours of nordic walking isn’t enough for you to lose weight any faster.

There’s only one way to burn more calories and that’s push yourself more than the last time.

And Everything you do is cardio which means Everything burns calories. 

From sitting on your ass to lifting weights and cycling to yes, Nordic Walking.

But the simple fact of the matter is, when it comes to my members at least, people want results and they want them fast.

I’d hazard a guess you want better and faster results too right?

My members don’t really give a shit about what methods they use get the results, as long as they can keep them.

So we use the most effective and efficient form of calorie burning known to mankind

Weight training

Hard to fathom for some but it is true. And if it wasn’t I’d use whatever was.

Remember the SF Fitness members want the best results. And that’s what our training programmes give them.

Faster and better results than anything they’ve tried before.

You see your muscles are where most of your calories get burned during and after exercise

And weight training will work your muscles more than any other form of exercise. As long as you’re smart and do it right.

But it’s not the only benefit

You’ll get stronger too. We’ve 50 odd year old members gaining huge confidence in their bodies now they can lift heavy things. Carrying stuff outside the gym like luggage, shopping and furniture becomes easy.

You’ll look better. You can lose weight and not look much different. Still soft and flabby. On the other hand you can change your shape entirely and not lose much weight.

You’ll protect yourself from injury. Stronger joints and muscles get injured less.

Your posture will improve. Strengthen up the weak muscles like the shoulders and core and you’ll have a much better posture. That alone can prevent aches and pains in the neck, knees and lower back.

People with more muscle live longer too. 

But I get it. You might be nervous about lifting weights. Or lifting heavier weights.

Many of my new members are apprehensive about lifting weights too. That is until they speak to the other members. And see the difference the programmes here can make.

And the reason they’re apprehensive is simply because they’ve never been given a programme based off a personal assessment. Or been looked after in a way they are sure they are doing the exercises correctly and progressing at the right rate.

An example being a programme I just designed for a new member here. Her assessment revealed there is no way she should swing a kettlebell or do any form of deadlifting. But with her new programme she will be able to do these in a month or so.

Or Liz, who trained with me for years before I opened up SF Fitness.

Liz after losing 5 stone

Liz after losing 5 stone

The new fitness centre was a bit too far for her to travel so she didn’t join. Instead tried a few other things.

Soon she realised there was zero personal attention. Nobody made sure her technique was right. Made to do stuff her back wasn’t capable of. Made her feel like shit basically.

She ended up spending a ton of money on the physio table. 

She’s now just joined here. Saying she presumed every fitness programme would be the same. That the trainers would look after you and your technique. Unfortunately this is the biggest failing of the fitness industry.

Thinking just sweating and being out of breath is what constitutes an effective workout.

The biggest problem I see is most people are just following general programmes. The same thing as everyone else. Or the exercises change every session to you know, mix things up. << Anyone ever says that to you, you have my permission to give them a high five, in the face, with a chair.a_high_five_in_the_face

Mixing things up means you can’t ever see any progress

So nobody is actually getting any stronger or fitter. And therefore their results suck.

Then they get pissed off and lose motivation.

^^Ever had that happen to you?

Or try to follow some insanely dumb diet and cut out entire food groups. And develop a fucked up association with eating where they feel guilty for eating a potato. Come on, gimme a break.

So how much extra cardio do you need? None, you’re doing cardio all day every day. You just gotta follow a programme that burns the max amount of calories and make sure the exercises are the right ones for you.

John O’C

P.S. Yes, That’s what SF Fitness provides. But to look after our current members we need to know you’re serious. So you gotta do one of these first

SF Fitness Discovery Session

About the Author John O'C

John O'Connell is the owner of SF Fitness & Health Centre. He started working in the fitness industry in 2002 after suffering a back injury. He has worked with many professional organisations including Leinster Rugby, An Garda Siochana, New Zealand Rugby, Dublin GAA, Spar and CBRE. He has also appeared muliple times on both RTE & TV3 as a health & fitness expert. John is the co-author of 2 international best selling books - Total Body Breakthroughs and The Fit Formula.

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