Episode 104. The Aerobic Myth of Fat Loss

Apr 30, 2018 | 0 comments

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Show Notes

Think that cardio puts you on the path to leanness? Think again. Scott presents scientific evidence and real-world examples that say otherwise. Listen to why you should get off the treadmill and into the weight room.

What’s wrong with cardio?
Personal trainers should know better

  • Scott kicks off the episode with a rant about “Dr. Meateater”, who developed a large internet following by claiming to eat only meat. He recently submitted to a blood test which returned terrible results, including testosterone reduced to the level of a 90-year-old man!
  • Scott first wrote about the Aerobic Myth of Fat Loss in the original edition of The Abel Approach.
  • Workouts using cardio equipment like the treadmill, elliptical, rowing machine, exercise bike, or stair climbers are all cardiovascular in nature; resistance training/weight training workouts are neuromuscular in nature.
  • Warm-ups doing cardio does not prepare the body for weight training.
    Analogy: how much sense does it make to study algebra to prepare for an English exam?
  • People in the gym often warm up with cardio because they don’t know better. Personal trainers however should know better, yet they still have clients warming up for resistance training on cardio machines.
  • What’s wrong with cardio for warm-up? Several things, among them tightening of the hip flexors, and engagement of the wrong energy system. If you do cardio at all for fat burning, it makes much more sense to do it after weight training (if done at all.)
  • Fat burns in a carbohydrate flame. Resistance training has been shown to raise VO2 max, while Cardio has not been shown to transform physiques.
  • Aerobics trains the “fat machinery” to burn less–not more–fat, because the body becomes more efficient at using fat.


  • Findings from scientific evidence published in journals from various medical specialties demonstrates that cardio has little to no effect over diet alone for fat loss.
  • The National Institute of Health did a study in a very elaborate facility that uses a room calorimeter that measures oxygen uptake and respiration rates of people over a 24-hour period. They tested ultra-marathon and tri-athletes -against average couch potatoes- and found no difference in metabolism in a 24-hour period.
  • Calorie burning does not equate to fat burning. Just look around the gym at the physiques of those who do the most cardio versus the resistance trainees. Cardio might change body size but will not change body shape.
  • A study published in the Obesity Journal showed that women burned even less fat than men when performing cardio.
  • “Quite simply, aerobic training is grossly over-rated: over rated for health; over rated for performance; and definitely over rated for fat loss. My personal opinion is that it is practically useless for fat loss, but the real problem is aerobic training’s detrimental effect on strength and hypertrophy work” – Alwyn Cosgrove

  • “Training for an aerobic base turns jumpers into joggers.” – Vern Gambetta

  • Scott shows long-term before and after photos of clients who’ve lost hundreds of pounds and kept it off using Cycle Diet and resistance training only.


Utter, AC, et al. “Influence of Diet and/or Exercise on Body Composition and Cardiorespiratory Fitness in Obese Women.” The Journal of Sport Nutrition (8, (3):213-222, 1998.

McTiernan, Anne, et al. “Exercise Effect on Weight and Body Fat in Men and Women.” Obesity Journal 2007: June 15: 1496-1512.

Tremblay, A., et al. “Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism.” Metabolism July: 43 (7) 814-818, 1994.

Bryner, RW, et al. “Effects of Resistance Training vs. Aerobic Training combined with 800 calories liquid diet and examining the effects on Lean Body Mass and Resting Metabolic Rate.” Journal of American College of Nutrition April: 18 (2) 115-121, 1999.

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