Cardio Motivations and Expectations

Earlier this month, I discovered I was likely wrong about cardio and explained how I arrived at that decision in the post Understanding My Bias AGainst Cardio. I was persuaded by the case made by Dr. Kenneth Jay, which I mentioned in the post Searching For the Cardio Code. After those two posts, I got some great ideas for getting started with cardio in the comments of Starting Over in Cardio.

Now I want to discuss what I expect and don’t expect to happen from adding cardio.

#1 Cardio as Heart Insurance

For me, the main benefit I gathered from my brief exposure to this topic is having a heart that is stronger in that cardio zone will benefit me greatly as I age. Now, this is something that I will not know is effective for decades and even then I won’t be certain. But as long as I don’t push it too far, which there is little risk of that, I should benefit.

I’ll trust the process here.

Espresso machine from Heart in Portland. 

#2 Cardio as a Mild Energy Booster

I have a high degree of energy already, but I’ll be interested to see after a few months of conditioning, will I have more energy? I don’t know the answer, but I suspect if I do, the effect will be minor

Remember, it is not like I am a lazy slob with no fitness background going into cardio. I’m approaching this from 20+ years of weight training and someone that consistently gets the 10,000 steps a day. So the additional benefit I will get from cardio will be far less than others.

This item is unknown and I consider it an experiment.

#3 Cardio For Fat Loss

On this item, I do not believe cardio holds any benefit on fat loss over the long-term. In the short-term, absolutely. But, appetite always rises to meet activity expenditures real or predicted. At the point when you are the level when you can do the most cardio for long periods will also be the period your appetite will be the highest.

Don’t get sick or injured or change your schedule in any way that reduces your commitment to cardio!

Of course, that statement is ridiculous, which is my point. Counting on cardio for fat loss is a poor bet. Get lean in the kitchen and recognize more cardio will increase hunger levels.

Most people approach a cardio workout plan with visions of getting leaner. Not me. I see the opposite case where an increase in appetite exceeds the calorie deficit earned during exercise as more likely. Not in the short-term, but eventually.

Thankfully, if this happens to me, I know how to use potatoes and high-protein to suppress appetite to keep my weight in check.

#4 Sweat

I almost never break a sweat in the gym. It has been a point of pride that I can show others that my level of leanness and strength was all accomplished in the kitchen and weight-room. No cardio needed.

Although I may not have needed to sweat at the gym, sweating is an important pathway for detoxification. I cover that in the April post, Detoxification Notes (Science Not Woo-Woo).

I just joined a new gym that not only has many cardio options, but also a sauna. I’ll likely be sweating more in the sauna, but I will be breaking a sweat doing cardio as well, which is healthy.


In short, I suspect the benefits I’ll get from cardio will be minor in the near term but could be much more decades from now.

I suppose I could pay for tests to measure things, but that isn’t my style. I’m going to trust that my heart will be more healthy and few toxins leave through my sweat. If I get a little more energy, great, but I don’t expect anything. And I certainly don’t expect to see a sustainable reduction in body fat.


Add yours

  1. Do you have any thoughts on the scientifically purported benefits of increased blood volume and increased capillarization? I suppose capillarization will be localized to the muscles involved in the cardio activity and maybe around the heart, but I don’t know. Increased blood volume is interesting as I could see that having subjective and objective benefits.

    It sounds like I don’t exercise as much as you, but I get very significant increases in energy from cardio that gets HR in the training zone and no such benefit from lower intensity activity. I seem to lose energy when I do high intensity weight training or run intervals.

  2. @Hs – Sorry, I don’t. Understanding this aspect of fitness is new to me. I’ve been 100% focused on lifting up until now. Hopefully, I’ll be learning more in the coming months.

  3. MAS,

    I suspect you are making a good choice with the cardio. Here are two additional reasons, in the Insurance category:

    (1) Humans evolved to move. Your 10,000 steps per day is moving. But getting a little extra activity via somewhat more intense cardio won’t hurt. (

    (2) Regular cardio keeps your arteries youthful (e.g., flexible):

  4. @Craig – Thanks for adding the resources.

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