One very popular fitness author claims that twenty minutes of aerobics three times a week is the "solution." A supplement company owner claims that sixteen minutes of high intensity aerobics is the optimal duration. Yet another "fitness guru" says that eight minutes in the morning is all it takes.
If I'm right, and a 30 to 45 minute cardio session is the most effective way to train for fat loss, then why do so many "gurus" in the books and on TV talk about these "supershort, super- easy" aerobic workouts? The answer is simple: "Quick and easy" sells,
"Long and difficult doesn't sell. It's all about marketing and the almighty dollar. If an author or promoter of a product can convince you that you can achieve your dreams with a minimum of effort, their sales will skyrocket. A wise person knows nothing good ever comes fast and easy.
Getting in great shape by spending only twenty minutes a day, three days a week (or less!) sounds great, but when things sound too good to be true, they usually are. If your goal is better health and a decent level of cardiovascular fitness, then three days of cardio a week for 20 minutes IS all you need. However, if your goal is to lose a lot of body fat as quickly as possible, then you're probably going to need more than 20 minutes.
If you're one of the few people genetically blessed with a fast metabolism and the ability to burn fat easily, then three days a week for twenty minutes will work for you. In fact, I know a few people with hyperactive metabolisms that stay ripped all year round without doing any cardio at all! Not many of us are that fortunate. I've seen very few people lose fat quickly from just three days a week of cardio. On the other hand, I've never seen anyone do six days a week of cardio for 45 minutes and NOT lose a lot of body fat (provided of course, they were on a good diet).
If you have superior genetics, you might get away with very little cardio. But if you're like most people, be prepared to do more. The bottom line is that you should do as much - or as little - cardio as it takes for YOU to reach your goal. You can only determine how much that is by understanding your body type, getting started and adjusting your program through trial and error. If you can lose fat from just three 20 minute workouts a week - that's GREAT! Don't do more if you don't have to. However, if you've been doing 20-minute workouts three times per week and nothing is happening, then you need to increase your duration and/or frequency until the fat starts coming off.
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