Harmonize Fitness
Harmonize Fitness



The problem with cardio


Cardio is great for optimal health, it has a lot of benefits as we´ve seen before, but too much of it can be counterproductive.

There´s a huge problem nowadays when it comes to optimal body composition, it´s not only that a lot of people are obese or overweight it´s also a lack of muscle mass. Lack of muscle mass is also a huge problem in skinny people, they may be slim and skinny but that doesn´t mean it´s healthy.

Muscle mass and strength play an important role on maintaining optimal health and longevity. When we talk about longevity we´re talking about quality of life, making sure that you live a long life with the best quality possible.

Most people when they´re working on losing muscle they give cardio exercise a high priority, some of them go for long sessions of steady state cardio, others prefer to take cardio or aerobic classes and even when they improve health especially heart and lungs, they help you improve endurance if you over do it you´ll start losing muscle mass which is the opposite of what we want. The goal when you want to lose weight is to lose muscle and maintain as much muscle mass as possible and if you´re skinny the goal is to build muscle mass.

Too much cardio will break down muscle especially if you don´t do enough resistance exercise, this is a huge problem especially with girls because they think that if they lift weight they´ll get big and huge like bodybuilders which is not the case, there need to be several things into place working together to build muscle and it takes a lot of time, if this is your case don´t be afraid of lifting weights, if you don´t want to get big you won´t get big you just exercise the right way to gain enough muscle mass to get a physique that looks tone.

Lets be clear, you don´t need cardio to lose weight and to make this bad news worse if you do it the wrong way it will cause more damage, certain types of cardio exercises or activities based on cardio can increase injuries, decrease performance, impacts on recovery from your resistance workouts so you need to find a way to use in a way that helps you lose fat and even be beneficial for recovery.

It doesn´t matter if you´re losing weight or if you´re maintaining your current weight and physique if you rely on cardio to achieve those goals every time you´ll need to do more and more of it and increase the intensity and if you´re not prioritizing resistance exercise and you´re not working on the other 3 principles of fitness (diet, sleep, stress) to make sure that your hormones and metabolism are working efficiently then with time you´ll need more and more cardio and a lower calorie diet just to maintain your weight and it gets harder when you want to lose weight.

Even when a lot of people recommend to do cardio every day it´s not beneficial, it can block your progress on resistance exercise and in the long term it can lead to damage on joints, if you already have problems with joints then cardio can make it worse.

We need to make a huge distintion here, in this case when we talk about cardio we talk about having a cardio session schedule whether it´s 45 to 60 minutes of steady state cardio or 15 minutes of HIIT. We do need to be active throughout the day but there are so many ways of increasing activity like walking when you´re on phone calls, parking farther from the entrance at the office, mall, when you go shopping, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking 15 minutes after each meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner).

Walking is actually the best form of cardio and physical activity you can do because it doesn´t have any negative impact and you can do it anywhere, you don´t need special equipment, finding opportunities to increase physical activity throughout the day just by walking is the best option when you´re starting your fitness journey, then according to your goals you can schedule 10 to 15 minutes of cardio a couple days a week and 1 or 2 HIIT sessions per week to help you lose fat a little faster or to improve performance.

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Best exercises for cardio!


There are some exercises that are better than others, this doesn´t mean that some exercises are bad, what I mean is that we all enjoy some exercises more than others, some of us may love running or jogging whether is on the treadmill on in the park while some may hate it. Some of us love HIIT while for others it represent a huge risk of injury or they can´t do it for health reasons. We all need to find the best cardio exercise for us.

We´re all looking for easy options that doesn´t require a lot of effort and discipline from our part but that give us great results. Unfortunately this is not possible. Whether your goal is to lose weight, keep it off or maintain optimal health, exercise is a priority and one of those types of exercise is cardio.

I´ve mentioned in other posts that we need to find ways to increase physical activity throughout the day, for this the best option is walk, we can all go for a short walk every couple hours but the days when we schedule time for cardio exercise you want to make sure the time you spend gives you the best results.

There are huge differences between steady state and HIIT cardio so first you need to decide what option is best for you or if you can and want to do both then go ahead. For steady state cardio I don´t recommend doing 45 to 60 minutes all in one session, I prefer to divide those 45 minutes into three 15 minutes and go for a walk. This is a way for me to add physical activity throughout the day and you get more benefits if you can walk outside and get sunlight. For HIIT I´ll do 10 to 15 minutes of sprints and some burpees, for sprints you have different options, you can sprint for 8 to 10 seconds and rest for 1 or 2 minutes, you can do 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest, you can do 30 seconds of work followed by 30 seconds of rest. Find out what works for and what you prefer, keep in mind that you need to make each interval as intense as you can.

Here´s a short list of what I consider to be the best exercises:

1.- Sprints.- Sprints are a great option for HIIT, it helps you burn fat and helps you maintain a lean physique, the reason why I love sprints is they improves your health and fitness in general.

2.- Burpees.- Burpees work so many different muscles at the same time and keep your heart rate up which helps you burn fat and look toned. They improve physical skills and performance, improve strength while burning some calories.

3.- Box jump or jump squats.- Box jumps work your lower body, you need power and strength and this helps you improve performance and speed. They also increase your heart rate.

4.- Jump rope.- Jumping rope is a great way to improve coordination and keep your bones stronger which reduce the risk of injuries and strength as we grow older.

If you´re starting on fitness then you don´t want to go hard on any exercise so you can start with short walks, once you´ve lost some weight and your health starts to improve you can try jump rope or any other exercise but before doing any of this make sure you talk with your doctor or health care practitioner and also make sure you avoid injuries.

Those 4 exercises are on top of my list because most of us can do them almost everywhere but there are more exercises like swimming, cycling, etc; that are great options too.

To maintain a lean physique and optimal health I choose HIIT as the best option for a cardio workout also considering that I try to go for short walks throughout the day. This is what works for me but remember that exercise needs to be a habit so you need to find exercises you like and enjoy doing so that you can stick to them, you also need to consider that most of us get bored after doing the same thing over and over and your body adapts so you need to have 2 or 3 different options so that you can keep changing them and also increase the intensity and make it a challenge.

Maintaining optimal health and a healthy weight is a priority and exercise plays a huge role on making that possible. Let us know by leaving a comment below and on Twitter which cardio exercises are the ones you enjoy more.

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Cardio exercise – HIIT


If you´ve tried to lose weight before and you´ve made a research to find out what was the best and fastest way you may have ended up confused and overwhelmed with all the information. I´m sure you have heard about HIIT as a great tool to lose weight fast.

HIIT (high intensity interval training) this means that we do an exercise for example sprints for 10 to 30 seconds as hard as we can and we rest for 30 to 60 seconds and we repeat it for several times.

Studies show that HIIT burns more fat than steady state cardio and there are studies that show that HIIT can also increase lean muscle mass so if we consider this studies HIIT is the best option for fat loss and to stay lean.

So how does HIIT help you burn more calories than traditional steady state cardio? The answer is EPOC. Actually if we compare the calories burn on each type of exercise (HIIT and steady state) we´ll see that we burn more calories with steady than with HIIT, but the benefits of HIIT come after we are done with our workout. Once we´ve finished our HIIT session our body´s metabolism stays high burning more calories for some period of time, this is called excess-post- oxygen consumption. It´s the amount of oxygen your body needs to get back to normal.

HIIT can also increase muscle mass but it can interfere with your recovery, if you´re doing resistance exercise and you´re giving your all then doing too many sessions of HIIT will make it harder and longer to recover from those resistance work outs.

Since most of us want to lose as much weight as fast as possible and without spending too much time exercising a lot of programs are using interval training to give you this results. I do consider it as an option and a great tool to keep the workouts challenging every other day, but I don´t recommend doing it every day.

HIIT  is considered for many people in the industry as the best tool to get leaner and healthier in a faster way, but lets consider something, even when HIIT can help you gain some muscle and can burn a lot of calories in a short period of time and that fat burn can continue for some hours after you´re done this does not mean that it´s the best tool for you.

If you´re starting your weight loss journey and you feel tired, if your body hurts then this type of cardio is not the right option for you, yet! You need to start with something you can do, your goal right now is to increase physical activity so walking is a great way to start, once you´ve lost some weight and you feel more comfortable exercising you can then try some high intensity intervals always knowing your limits and avoiding all injuries and health issues.

We can´t deny the fact that when you start eating healthy, avoid all unhealthy foods, eating less and start doing exercise or find ways to increase physical activity you´ll lose weight and when you lose weight your health improves so there´s no reason to do crazy types of exercises that are not the best option for you increasing your risk of injuries just to get results faster.

As with all exercises I´m not against it and I do recommend you give it a try when you are able to do it. You need to talk to your doctor or health care practitioner first and listen to what she/he recommends, if you´re not ready for it, yet just wait a little more.

After losing some weight you may be able to try this type of exercise to see if you like it, for this you need to start slow, you can start with sprints, 20 to 30 seconds sprint as fast as you can and rest for 45 to 60 seconds. Repeat 6 to 8 rounds. Do this one or two times a week and see how you feel. Remember that before doing any type of exercise and especially before starting HIIT you need to talk to your doctor or health care practitioner about it.

Let us know by leaving a comment down below and on Twitter if you´ve tried this type of cardio before and what were your results or if you´re interested on giving it a try.

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Cardio – Steady state


With so much information out there, when you want to improve your health and lose weight once and for all it gets overwhelming and confusing so the best you can do is understand how everything works. This is true for exercise, diet, sleep, stress.

We know that exercise is important and it has so many benefits for maintaining optimal health. On the last post we talked about the differences between cardio and resistance training (click here to read that post) today we´re going to talk about one of the most common forms of cardio, steady state cardio.

I´m sure you´ve seen people in the park walking, jogging, taking some rides on their bike for 30 to 45 minutes or even longer or at the gym using cardio machines like elliptical, treadmill, stationary bike and also doing 30 to 45 minutes or more at the same pace. If they get bored, they´ll go a littler faster for a short period of time or if they get tired or reduce the speed.

Steady state cardio is an exercise you do for long periods of time at the same pace and intensity. It can be jogging, cycling, swimming. The intensity needs to be low to moderate so that you are able to maintain it for the duration of your session being at least 30 minutes.

Steady state cardio has some benefits:

1.- Speed recovery.- Steady state cardio helps you recover faster than HIIT (will talk about it on future posts). Low to moderate intensity of steady state increases blood flow and this boost recovery after hard training resistance exercise.

2.- Burns calories.- We mentioned in past posts that cardio helps you burn calories, this is why many people use it as their principle weight loss tool.

3.- Improves endurance.- I f you like marathons, cycling, jogging, swimming long distances then steady state helps you improve your cardiovascular endurance.

Now lets talk about some of the reason why I don´t like steady state cardio. As I mentioned before, cardio and resistance exercise send different signals to our body, with steady state cardio you´re telling your body to become more efficient so it will just less and less calories and you´ll lose muscle because muscle needs a lot more energy. The other reason why I don´t recommend it is because talking about doing steady cardio makes it harder to stick to it, most of us don´t have time to do 45 to 60 minutes of resistance training plus another 45 or 60 minutes of cardio at one shot, it´s long and boring.

Lets be honest we all want to find the fastest and easiest way to achieve our goals, how can we lose weight as fast as possible with the least effort? For some of us losing a lot of weight fast is not healthy but there are strategies we can use to make sure that you get the best results and doing long hours of steady cardio is not one of them.

When you´re starting your fitness journey after being sedentary for years then doing any physical activity will feel like hell, your knees and back hurts and you feel tired so there´s no reason to think about doing hours of steady cardio when it´s not the best option. To start your weight loss journey if you´re following an unhealthy diet, overeating and you don´t do any physical activity you start by changing your diet first and stick to it for a couple weeks then you add some physical activity, that physical activity is going for a 10 minute walk in the morning before breakfast and another 10 minute walk after dinner. This is not the same as doing 30 or 45 minutes of jogging all at once.

If you´re trying to lose weight let us know what you´ve done or what programs you´ve followed and what were your results by leaving a comment down below and on Twitter.

If you know someone who could benefit from this post please share it with them and don´t forget to follow us on Twitter.



The difference between cardio and resistance exercise.


The thought of wanting to lose some weight and in some cases that you need to lose weight because of health issues is terrifying. You know you´ll need to make some changes, you know that exercise is important but that mental fear paralyze you more than your body hurting. 

Before you even start doing some physical activity there are some points you need to understand and one of them is the types of exercise you can and most do to improve your overall health and lose weight. We will keep it simple so we´ll only talk about cardio and resistance exercises.

I know a lot of people who like to go for long walks or jog around 60 minutes almost every day, since all of them have a 9 to 5 job they go for this long runs or walks on weekends or when they don´t have to work. The reason they do it is not because they like it, it´s more because of health and weight reasons. I can´t deny that physical activity is great but, too much cardio can have a negative impact on your weight and health thanks to the signals it sends to your body.

Many of us think of cardio as the way to lose weight we think we need to do it even when those sessions are long and boring. We think this because that what the industry has told us and made us believe but this is not completely true, cardio is not the best way to lose weight and keep it off, you can actually skip cardio completely and if you do resistance exercise you´ll be fine, you´ll lose weight and keep it off. But cardio has so many benefits for health and it still has its place.

The reason why many people in the industry make you think that cardio is a great tool for fat loss is this, there are research that shows that one hour of cardio compared to one hour of resistance training burns more calories while you are doing it so, thinking about weight loss as calories in and calories out if you want to lose fat  you need to do cardio to burn more calories right?

Not so fast, … with all types of exercise you send signals to your body and your body will respond accordingly to that signal. With cardio you are sending the message to your body to become more efficient at using calories.

If you´ve been spending the last years without doing any exercise, the moment you start exercising it will feel like hell, you´ll be so tired and you´ll burn a lot of calories but with time if you continue doing the same exercise, for the same amount of time at the same intensity it´ll become easier and easier and your body uses less energy and it burns less calories every time you do it, your body adapts. If you increase the intensity and time you can start losing muscle mass because your body needs to become efficient at that activity and muscle needs a lot more energy and in an activity focused on endurance muscle mass is not needed in fact is counterproductive to have so much muscle. You can see this in marathon runners.

After following a weight loss program based on cardio for a long period of time we´ll need to do more exercise and eat less to sustain your results this is why  it´s almost impossible to maintain the results when you stop the program.

With resistance exercise the signal you are giving to your body is to get stronger, when you are doing resistance exercises you are giving a stimuli to the muscles and that stimuli let your body knows that it needs those muscles so it needs to get stronger and grow to be able to make it through the next workout.

We talked about the importance of improving body composition in a past post (click here to read it) and the way to do it is by focusing on resistance exercises to build muscle and add some cardio. This does not means that you will get big, it only means that you focus on improving your health and weight considering lean muscle mass and body fat.

Now you may be asking how do you start with cardio or resistance exercises. It all depends on where you are now, how much you can do, just by taking a 10 minute walk first thing in the morning before breakfast and another 10 minute walk right after dinner, doing 10 squats and 10 pushups is all you need. You can start with easy versions or levels of squats and push ups like using a chair for the squats and a wall for push ups.

Your goal is to focus on doing this two 10 minute walk, the squats and push ups every day. What you want is to develop the habit of increasing physical activity and exercising. Do this for a couple of weeks and let us know your results, how you feel and what you´re struggling with by leaving a comment down below and on Twitter.

If you know someone who could benefit from this post please share it with them and don´t forget to follow us on Twitter.