Life fitness can be a beach.

By Stephen Freeman

So, if you have been following along, I’m guessing some of you have started shedding some of that unwanted weight, right? On the other hand, if you’re like me, all of these summer barbecues, 3-day weekends, and drinks by the pool have really started taking their toll. Even though I know that an appropriate diet is more than half the battle, I can still keep the pounds off by taking my workouts more serious, with a somewhat tactical approach.

I see so many people putting in so much time and effort at the gym, and they are not getting the results they want because their workouts are unbalanced, unchanging, and sometimes work against their goals. If you’re putting in all this effort, but aren’t informed about how and what it is you’re working towards, you might find yourself swimming upstream.

Trying to achieve your fitness goals with the wrong combination of diet and exercise is like trying to chop a tree down by starting at the top. You’re eventually going to chop it down, but there’s an easier way to do it. So, try and keep up with me so you can save yourself some time, effort, and a lot of unwanted summer pounds.

When it comes to exercising for the purpose of losing body fat, there are really only two sides of the coin.

1 – Cardiovascular Training

2- Weight/Resistance Training


Cardiovascular training aka “Cardio” is crucial in the pursuit of weight loss and/or reducing body fat. The time and intensity that you need to dedicate to this part of your exercise regimen will depend upon a variety of factors.

For many of you “Cardio” just means jumping on the treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike etc… for as long as you can and the longer you stay on the better, right? Well, yes and no. There’s a little more to it than that. To simplify, there are three basic types of cardio: low intensity cardio, high intensity, and interval training.


Low Intensity Cardio

(Any exercise that keeps your heart rate consistently elevated between 55-65% of your maximum heart rate)

Pros: Most of the calories burned during workout come from fat, Less effort is involved, Easier for beginners

Cons: More time consuming, No calories are burned after workout

Best Results: 40-60 Minutes 5-7 days/week

High Intensity Cardio

(Any exercise that keeps your heart rate consistently elevated between 75-85% of your maximum heart rate)

Pros: Less time consuming, Fat calories continue to be burned hours after workout.

Cons: Requires more effort, Not all calories burned are from fat during workout

Best Results: 20-30 Minutes 3-4 days/week

Interval Training

(Any exercise in which you jump back and forth from High Intensity Cardio to Low Intensity or Recovery)


Pros: Less time consuming, Fat calories continue to be burned hours after workout

Cons: Requires more effort, Not all calories burned are from fat during workout

Best Results: 10-30 Minutes 3-4 days/week

The truth is, it doesn’t really matter what exercise you choose to do, so long as your heart rate stays within the limits. Common mistakes include doing High Intensity Cardio or Interval Training sessions for too much time or too many times per week so it’s best to alternate between the low and high intensities. Also, if you are on a very calorie-restricted diet and you do High Intensity Training you will be breaking down some muscle for energy. If this is the case, keep the High intensity sessions short or stick to Low Intensity Cardio so that you burn only fat and don’t sacrifice your muscle. Cardio machines such as the treadmill are helpful in that they have heart rate monitors built in to help you keep track of your heart rate. If you choose to buy a heart rate monitor, you will have the freedom to venture away from these machines and go for a run in the park or a ride on your favorite trail.

Keep in mind that you should always “pace yourself” when starting any new routine. Always start at a slow pace to warm up your muscles and to allow your joints to lubricate. If you fail to start slowly and don’t make a habit of warming up, you may eventually injure yourself or worsen any injuries you may already have. Do your stretching after your warm-up or when you have finished your cardio session.


Resistance training is vital in maintaining your muscle mass. While building muscle is unlikely to happen while on a restricted diet, you can ward off losing it by following a basic weight-training routine.

So, why is retaining muscle so important in a weight loss program? Besides the obvious function of providing us with strength and movement, muscles are the most calorie-demanding tissue in our bodies. The more muscle mass we have, the more calories we need just to maintain it. In a weight-loss perspective, this translates to not only faster results, but results that are easier to keep.

I have seen and met some very dedicated people who made/make the mistake of focusing solely on cardio. Because these people are not putting any time in for resistance training they are slowly diminishing their ability to burn calories. If you are not familiar with weight/resistance training or are looking for some tips to improve your current routine, then stay tuned for my next entry.


Written by The Sundown United

The SUNDOWN UNITED is a multi-faceted project that houses an apparel and accessories brand, and online-magazine(weblogs/articles). All ends of and begins with the Sundown United our trademark, lifestyle, attitude, and personal perspective on Americana art/lifestyle subculture.

One comment

  1. I’ve been doing circuit training and I like jumping rope between sets to keep my heart rate up. I don’t know if this is good or bad but it seems to be working for something…Any input?


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