Why to Just Say NO to Cardio for Fat Loss

Hotel room workoutsThis is our 40th issue of the year of the Turbulence Training podcast and this might be the best episode ever. It’s full of new research studies and a program that most folks don’t know about – The TT Hotel Room Workouts.

So let’s get into some very interesting cardio research…that leaves me suggesting you “Just say NO to cardio!”

Click here for the best fat loss coaching call ever!

I also want to say, “Happy Thanksgiving” to all of my fellow Canadians…this is our holiday weekend. But this time of year always brings up something I really dislike – and that’s the dependence on the “Cardio Confessional”. cardio confessional

Monday – Oct 12

This week’s top Transformation Tip:

Do Not Give in to the Cardio Confessional!

Depending on the calorie counters on cardio confessional machines is the biggest fraud in fat loss today.

Don’t believe that you can just go “burn off a big meal”. It’s impossible to win with that thinking.   Focus on building your body up with Turbulence Training, rather than tearing your body down with repetitive cardio. Just Say NO to Cardio!

Instead, improve your diet – more on that later – and stick to body transforming workouts like the bodyweight exercise circuits you’ll get in the TT Hotel Room Workouts.

Intermediate Workout A – Hotel Room Workout – Click here for your copy

Repeat the circuit 2 times the first time you try it.
In future workouts, you can repeat the circuit up to 3 times.

Bodyweight Squat – 15 reps
Prone Stick-up – 8 reps
Step-up – 12 reps per side
Close-Grip Pushup – 20 reps
Forward Lunge – 12 reps per side
Plank with Elbows on Bed – 20 second hold
Pushup Plus – 10 reps
Side Plank – 20 second hold per side

Interval Training – Jumping Jacks
30 seconds jumping jacks, 30 seconds recovery (very slow walking in place)
Repeat 6 times

30 minutes of fun activity
Another study kicking sand in the face of long slow cardio for weight loss…and again its from Australia. The Aussie’s are smart, they know cardio is a big waste of time for fat loss.

(Aussies, like female surfer Serena Brooks, know its better to spend your time surfing than on the elliptical.)

Br J Sports Med. 2009 Sep 29. Beneficial effects of exercise: shifting the focus from body weight to other markers of health. King N, Hopkins M, Caudwell P, Stubbs J, Blundell J.

Researchers studied 58 overweight men and women over a 12 week cardio program (5x’s per week, 500 calories burned per session).

Overall, the group lost an average of 3.3kg – below the expected weight loss.

But worse, 26 of the 58 lost only 0.9kg (exactly 2 pounds) in 12 weeks, despite doing almost 60 HOURS of cardio!

The good news of course – that everyone knows and I’m happy to admit – is that cardio helped folks improve their health. (Of course, you could probably get better health improvements with changes in your diet.)

In the end, the researchers concluded, and this is an EXACT quote from the study, “From a public health perspective, exercise should be encouraged and the emphasis on weight loss reduced.”

There you go, the Australian researchers have said what I’ve been saying all along…

The emphasis of cardio on weight loss should be reduced.

Trainers, magazines, and gyms need to stop promoting “cardio” as the magic formula for weight loss.top-10-female-surfers_1

And that calls for another photo of an Australian female surfer, this time, Layne Beachley, one of the top female surfers in the world – at 37 years of age!


Back to the hotel…

TT Hotel Room Intermediate Workout B

Repeat the circuit 2 times the first time you try it.
In future workouts, you can repeat the circuit up to 5 times.

Prisoner Squat – 15 reps
Off-set Pushup – 6 reps per side
Stick-up – 12 reps
Split Squat – 12 reps per side
Spiderman Climb – 6 reps per side

Tabata Interval Training – Running in Place
20 seconds running, 10 seconds recovery (very slow walking in place)
Repeat 8 times

30 minutes of fun activity. And now for a deep thought…

“Once you realize and accept how hard it is to lose fat, then you’ll find the process to be quite simple. You’ll understand that you need to plan your meals in advance, prepare for your workouts (so you don’t just “wing it” at the gym), set up social support, and identify solutions for all of the obstacles in your life. Once you “get it”, then you’ll finally be ready to succeed.”

Please let me know about your success story!

Fridayhotel gym workout

Last workout, this one is just a giant circuit…

TT Hotel Room Intermediate Workout C

Repeat the circuit 2 times the first time you try it.
In future workouts, you can repeat the circuit up to 5 times.

Jumping Jacks – 30 seconds
Bodyweight Squat – 20 reps
Pushups – 20 reps
4) Y-Squats – 12 reps
Mountain Climbers – 10 reps per side
Running in Place – 30 seconds

Social Support Saturday!
30 minutes of fun activity with a friend, and then…

Write this down and live your life according to this…Kekich Credo #75 – “Persistence is a sure path to success with quality activities. Never, ever, ever, give up.”

Stay strong through this journey. I know you can do it.

Sunday – Plan, Shop & Prepare
30 minutes activity and then plan, shop, & prepare.

Now to stir up some more trouble…

Saying that “diets don’t work” is a politically-correct excuse that allows people to avoid diets in the first place. The politically-incorrect truth is that diets DO work…its the people that don’t work. So what you need to do is continue looking for the diet that will work for you. Don’t just give up. But remember, even the right diet will take hard work and consistency. Good luck, I know you can do it.

Now let’s look at a research study that shows the power of the diet (again from Australia!)…

Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Sep 30. One-year weight maintenance after significant weight loss in healthy overweight and obese subjects: does diet composition matter? Delbridge EA, Prendergast LA, Pritchard JE, Proietto J.

In this study, overweight men and women were put on a 12-week low-calorie diet, and they ended up losing 16.5 kg. That’s over 36 pounds and over 18x’s the amount of weight lost by some of the people in the cardio study.

That just shows you that diet crushes cardio for fat loss.

But there was a 2nd part to the study.

The subjects were split into two groups for another 12 months. During this year, one group of subjects went on a high-protein diet while the other group went on a high-carbohydrate diet.

At the end of the 12 months, both groups gained back 2kg. That’s not good news, but the point is that both groups gained back the same amount of weight.

So both “diets” worked at helping people maintain a large portion of their original weight loss.

But here’s the BAD news…

Forty-seven percent of the 180 subjects who began the study completed both phases.

That’s a lot of dropouts. So the challenge isn’t the diet, it’s getting people to stick to it. And that’s where social support, planning, education, and finding the right diet for your personality comes in.

Bottom line: Never give up. Keep looking for the diet that works for you.

Combine that with short workouts – not long cardio – and you’ll finally get the results you deserve.

Stay strong,

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS

PS – Next week…

1) Advanced Hotel Room Workout – Click here for your copy
2) 5 Nutrition rules
3) Fasting Research Update!

  • Sham

    Hey Craig,

    I’d like to share my experience. I started turbulence training towards the end of April 2009. That included changes to my diet with smaller meals of natural foods. After 3 weeks i had lost around 2 kgs, and i could see a bit more definition in my body. But the weight came back, somehow despite my best efforts. I’ve gone through all the programmes and am up to my 4th week on the TT2k5 workout at the moment, which i intersperse with the top ten full bodyweight workout for days i can’t get to the gym. In september, i thought enough is enough and decided to get back to the only diet that has ever really worked for me – Atkins. So started the Atkins and TT combination programme on 1 Sept, and after 40 days have lost 6 kgs. And being in Malaysia, where carb-laden foods are staple, it’s more expensive (and not to mention challenging!) to keep to a low carb nutritional approach without forward meal planning. I practically cook all my meals myself, and thanks to the Atkins approach i eat tons more veg and salads. I have probably 15 kgs to lose (now 9 kgs)so yes i concur with what you’ve said – it takes perseverance and commitment. And what i appreciate abt TT is that it’s simple but tough on the body and all i need is 1 hour per session to do what i need to. (Of course i notice that while some people in the gym are quite amazed by my strength (especially the guys 😉 ) i also notice some others looking at me with the look that says ‘what’s this fat girl doing with those weights when she should be doing cardio to lose all that excess ??!’ well haha, the joke’s on them! 🙂 . Bottomline is i’m getting the results i want with both the diet and TT, and while there’s still some way to go, i just need to stick to what’s working for me. So thanks Craig for coming up with TT and confirming all my suspicions abt cardio! The hotel room workouts are great too – just what i need for my numerous travels!


    • Craig Ballantyne

      Thanks Sham!

  • Paul

    I don’t see any scientifically proven case here against the use of cardio for fat loss and weight loss.

    • Paul

      The thrust of this piece, and one with which I agree, is that diet is central not only to fat loss but to general wellbeing. The problem I have is that the conclusion reached is “say no to cardio”, when surely it should be “say no to a bad diet”. Sure, you can’t cardio away a rotten diet. But who said you could? Can you TT away a rotten diet by working out in a hotel room? No? Then surely the slogan should be “say no to TT”? The entire line of reasoning is illogical, in my opinion.
      Furthermore, while we can all agree that diet is central, this is not a major discovery of recent Australian researchers. Abstracting from the question of diet, which we can take as given, the question, as I see it, is if, all things being considered equal, TT, full-body workouts etc beat cardio for fat loss. I must say I’m open to this possibility, but I do not see that it is proven here.
      In friendship, Paul

  • i see people doing crazy cardio all the time, looking the same month after month. Fat loss is so misunderstood

    • john

      i agreee that its confusing but cardio and working out isnt going to help you lose fat unless you diet correctly…i think this article is bullshit no offense because i eat the right kind of proteins for lean muscle gain and i avoid fats and i do cardio and i would have to say it succeeded in helping me lose fat and build more muscle

  • The problem with saying “no to cardio” is that life isn’t that black and white. First off, “cardio” can take many forms (I’m sure the surfer you mention does tons of “cardio” by surfing – I’ve never surfed so I’m just guessing). Plus cardio is very effective for fat loss – depending on how you do our cardio, what your condition is to start with, and what your other habits are in terms of lifting and eating. Saying no to cardio is simply wrong.

    One of the great things about your programs are that the body-weight circuits you use can actually be pretty “cardio” intensive.

    I do agree that for fat loss, there is something far more effective: your eating plan. Everyone knows that if you don’t eat the crap to begin with, then you don’t have to try to bun it off later. But for people who have already committed the sin of too many donuts, cardio can be both fun and effective for assisting their fat loss. And I did say “fun”! People with strong minds can turn any activity into fun. I don’t think you’d let people get away with this statement “It’s not fun to eat veggies, so I won’t”. Or “I hate doing resistance exercise, so I should skip it”. No, the right solution is to change your mindset to enjoy activities that are good for you.

    We also know all the research showing how much more effective HIIT is than steady-state cardio. I’m not promoting one over the other, but I do know that doing HIIT properly is really hard for a lot of people. But whether HIIT or steady-state, the extra calories burned do help a bit. And the additional endurance translates into the weight room as extra energy – if you can lift more intensely, your lifting workouts will be more effective too.

    So, I’d recommend people say “yes to cardio” but qualify it that cardio is the last item on the list. My list of “top 10 things to get in shape” would have 7 things related to diet, 2 related to lifting/resistance training, and 1 thing related to cardio. Don’t expect miracles from cardio, but don’t ignore it altogether.

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Sorry dude, cardio sucks.

      • Paul

        Not a very scientific answer, Craig.
        Anyway, a dude gets us early twice a week and meets his friends, they go for, say, a 12 km run on an empty stomach, perhaps having drunk some black coffeee before going out. They start off slowly for 4 km and gradually build up speed for the next 4, finishing the last 2 km with a good push. They have a great chat, tell jokes, go home, have a healthy breakfast and go off to work. The dude in question weighs, say, 80 kg, which means he’s burned around 1,000 calories, including losts of fat, in fact 40% beyond normal becase he and his mates went out without breakfast. “Long, slow, boring cardio”, and “cardio sucks” are expressions you’ve invented to prove your point, because you can’t actually prove it scientifically. Personally I think surfing sucks, and that surfers are self-centred and boring (at lest the one’s I met when I was in Australia). Diet and weights is where I’m at at the moment, it’s what I’m into, as I want to put on weight in the form of muscle mass. But I don’t need to debunk anyone or anthing to do it, least of all exciting, sociable and happiness producing cardio. I lost 20 kg thanks to diet and cardio (went from 94 to 74), becasue I wanted to improve my marathon time, and in fact went below the 3 hour barrier.
        In short, just state your own case, which in my view is a good one. But there’s no need to ridicule others, especially when you’ve no proof.

      • wolverine

        Hi Craig, thanks for all your help, my question is, will i not gain the same benefits from doing sprints as i would from tt, or is this cardio as wll, the thing is the slightest resistance training, even bodyweight training leads to me getting pumped and i really just want to be slimmer and not skinny fat or muscular, thanks

      • Craig Ballantyne


        Sprints/intervals are part of Turbulence Training. If you have all the muscle you want, I’d stick to intervals and 1 set of bodyweight exercises per major muscle group. you must do some resistance training twice per week.

  • Andrei

    Hy Craig…I want to ask you a question.I started a new routine and i’m doing cardio on tuesday,thursday and saturday.I run uphill and I do only 3 laps….but it’s pretty intense and after I do 3 laps i’m exausted so what do you think?it’s a good routine or not P.S:I’m sorry for my grammar mystakes but i’m from romania thx alot

  • dennis


    are you a moron?you may not like surfers because of your expierence with them but the two pictures he shows are: first ,one who has won the world title several times and have you ever attempted to paddle out thru surf or paddle back out to catch another wave with current and waves pushing against you.thought not.second the amount of energy that it takes to surf at this level is misundertstood.you really need to understand the condition that pro level surfers must be in both cardio and strength wise .i think you truly misunderstand what craig is trying to point out…………….. your not really a moron are you>………….

    • Craig Ballantyne

      I love surfing! Might have to move to Cali with Bally and teach him how to surf with me. Maybe he could do all the paddling!

    • Paul

      Well, here we go again. Instread of proving a point against cardio we go calling people “morons”. As regards surfing, no, I don’t know what Craig is talking about. He’s trying to make a case against cardio, but has no proof, so he reduces his argument to negative sloganeering (“long”, “slow”, “boring” etc.), uses Bart Simpson terminology (“sucks”), provides scientifically unsound data (58 subjects over 12 weeks) and then points to …. surfers!?
      Am I missing something here?

  • Victoria Larson

    I agree with Craig – I am a 48 year old mother of four and although I admit I did inherit terrific genetic tendencies (from my mother – not from my dad) I weigh the same that I did when I graduated from high school and I am in much better shape. I also have Rheumatoid Arthritis which in reality should keep my from doing much of anything, but because of the great medications available now (Enbrel) and my strength training workouts, I am in the shape of my life. I do basically the same program that Craig recommends with a personal trainer twice a week and do no cardio except walking the dog, playing with my kids and playing softball. I can do 6 complete chin-up and plenty of full push-ups, countless squats (with weights), etc. I think that cardio programs are pretty much crap too – HOWEVER, you are not always talking to people who do anything except sit on the couch and watch TV all day, every day or sit at their desk, all day every day. If people are willing to take the stairs, park further away and walk their dog every once in a while – that is cardio and much more than what the average overweight person is willing to do. I believe that a little bit of muscle goes a long way in burning calories but unfortunately, too many people have NO muscle whatsoever and the ones that do – know how to eat to maintain it!

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Great points Victoria!

  • kia

    It’s amazing how bent out of shape people are getting because he said cardio is bs. If it works for you then do it. But for others, it really doesn’t. For A LOT of people it doesn’t. If you totally disagree with him, don’t curse, or be disrespectful, just don’t read anymore…or go take your issues out on your treadmill, and let those of us who want to try something new have a BS free environment.

  • michele

    Let me start by saying, I hate cardio training. I’d much rather be hiking or biking outside. However, with my work schedule, that is not always the most ideal. The thing that troubles me is, how do you keep your heart in healthy cardiovascular shape without cardio? Or am I missing the point, are we just talking about weight loss here?

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Hi Michele!

      Its really easy to keep your heart in good health. Just as with fat loss, diet is far more important than exercise in determining heart health. You need to keep your body fat down and avoid trans fats. In addition, avoid smoking and get regular exercise (doesn’t need to be long aerobic sessions), and you will be in good health.

  • AJ

    hi…im 25 years old and im a photographer, so im pretty much on my feet all the time..I have terrible eating and drinking habits and for a long time i did go to the gym and push myself on the treadmill. After using the TT program, iv seen a dramatic change in my lifestyle and after working out for a couple of years, doing the same crap workouts, this came as a refreshing change…not only did i not waste countless hours in the gym, i had more energy at the end of the day. Im not saying no to cardio…personally my workout isnt complete if i dont do some interval running at the end of my workout. but to state my fact, cardio isnt the sole thing that helps weight loss…its a lot of other stuff as well…primarily a change in diet and lifestyle. The TT workout is insane…im sweating buckets after 3 sets, much more than running for an hour on the treadmill at 8mph. Iv tried both, with cardio and without, and at the end of the day, the TT workouts are definitely more effective.

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Great to hear AJ!

  • Derek

    It did one of Craigs TT circuits for 50 minutes including some interval training out doors ( I am in Australia and the morinings are great) and boy did I get a workout. I used cardio to lose 15 kg 3 years ago however that was because I did not know anything else. I not incorporate resistance training, interval training and now and again a 15 km run( just because I like to run) and at 44 I am in better shape that I was when I was 34.

    I am now using these program with my clients as I have just graduated as a P/T and really looking forward to a new career.

    Keep up the great work Craig. You need to get to OZ.


    • Craig Ballantyne

      Great stuff Derek!

  • Jen

    I was looking at getting your TT programs but I already have a good nutrition program, I just wanted some more stuff specifically on body training and for traveling that I am doing. Can I combine the two?

    If it matters I am following Leigh Peele’s FLT guidliens and going to be getting the Body By Eats book when it comes out. I don’t want to spend the extra money if I can’t use your manuals together.

    Thanks and pet Bally for me! 😉

    • Craig Ballantyne

      You can use any nutrition program you want in combination with Turbulence Training. Thanks!

  • Jules

    In [workout A] do I repeat the interval training segment 2-3 times as well?

  • vic

    I have not tried the workouts yet, but am very interested in it. Can you tell me if it is only in book form, or can I get it on DVD? I find it so much easier to follow a routine with a trainer pushing me-either at the gym or on TV. Thanks

  • Terry Cagle-Kemp

    I believe that the Turbulence Training Complete Package would help me because it IS a complete package, from diet to exercises (especially the focus on bodyweight excercises) to motivation. I believe in Turbulence Training. The fact that I can just slip in a DVD will help motivate to follow through with the system.

  • wolverine

    Thanks, i asked this same question to Rusty Moore, Mark Sisson and Jason G, and you all gave the same solution, i am now confidently going to follow the advise, thanks guys