End of Post.
Not good enough? Fine, I'll elaborate ad nauseam.
I honestly believe everyone should do cardio. Now, "how often" is the real question one should be asking, grasshopper.
Who Should do the Most Cardio?
If you are overweight.If you are attempting to lose lots of weight, cardio will help you reach your goals faster. And by this, I don't mean a couple of pounds overweight, I mean upwards of 40 and above. You can achieve a lot of fat loss through diet and weight training, but the progress may be slow and it will test your patience. Cardio is a tool to help accelerate this process immensely. Depending on how overweight you are, I generally recommend people starting off with nice long walks with a weighted vest. Put in your earbuds, listen to music, podcasts or even hold your phone and watch youtube videos or netflix. The time will zoom by. Eventually when you lose more weight, up the intensity of the cardio until you're able to run. Once you're able to run, you'll be finished with your cardio sooner. I never recommend running for long periods of time unless that is a specific goal of yours (marathon runner), I believe it can affect your body composition negatively. But more on that later...
If you are wanting to gain some weight but don't have much of an appetite.People like this exist? Yes, they do. It almost makes me mad. If you're skinny and never feel the need to eat, you need some cardio to boost your appetite. Luckily for you, appetite surpasses stomach capacity. Plan to eat your biggest meal right after your workout. Eat to grow, little guy.
If you have an average metabolism, but want to eat more everyday.This is me. I have an okay metabolism. It's better now than ever with the incorporation of the increased heavy lifting/power lifting training. But, to give myself even more room for calories, I do 30 mins of cardio a day. Thats right, a day. Why? Because I love food, and I can easily eat 10,000 a day and be begging for more. I'll gain every bit of fat above my maintenance, but I have an everlasting hunger. Anything I can do to give myself a few more plates of food and stay aesthetic I will do any day of the week.
If you are a model of any kind or a competitive body builder preparing for a show/photo shoot.Unless you are on some form of drugs or genetically gifted, you're more than likely going to have difficulty getting into the lower percentage points of body fat without the aid of cardio. Definitely in terms of removing water weight and getting that shredded detailed look that is necessary for competition. But, if you are doing this, get a god damn coach who has done this before with other people. It's incredibly dangerous to do it unmonitored, and you can really mess up your metabolism (temporarily) and have nothing to show for it but a cheap trophy and 40lbs of fat you'll pack on afterwards.
Who Should do an Average Amount of Cardio?
If you are 10-20 pounds within your goal weight with all the time in the world to achieve it.In other words, your average American weight loss goal. It is not necessary to run 30 min everyday to get this kind of goal. Will you achieve it faster? Yes, but it may not be maintainable because of how you trained your body to get that way. I think 3 30-60 sessions a week in addition to a good, consistent diet and some weight training is the perfect combination to achieve this goal in a few months.
Who Should do Little to No Cardio?
The classic "Hard Gainer."If you are a naturally skinny person who has an insatiable appetite and what one would call a "Hard gainer" and you desire to pack on more size, excessive cardio is something that could keep you from achieving your goal. However, I feel that its important to have maybe one or two small sessions a week just to keep up your heart health and cardiovascular system, especially if you're eating to grow and maybe getting a little sloppy with your food choices (like you should be.) Just remember that on the days you do cardio, you have to eat even more. Keep track of the calories you burned and eat that amount, if not more.
What kind of cardio do you recommend?
This really doesn't matter, it really boils down to personal preference. However, it's important to know that some machines and some cardio routines are going to make you burn more calories in shorter periods of time but will also be increasingly more difficult.
Steady paced low intensity:
Walking, speed walking, or walking on an incline. This will generally not burn that many calories unless you're obese and you'll have to do lots of it to get the result you desire. Adding a weight vest or pulling a weight can help you burn more calories.
Steady paced medium intensity:
Running (jogging), elliptical, stair master, most cardio machines. You'll often see people on these machines for upwards of an hour to hit their desired calorie mark. It's a fairly easy way of getting your body into a caloric deficit and isn't intensely demanding on the average American. They can go in and out of the gym a little winded and feel accomplished.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
The title says it all. Sprinting, hill sprints, interval training, sled pulls, prowler work and kettle bell complexes. Going all out for short bursts, then resting and repeating. This is the most demanding but also the most effective form of cardio. You'll tend to burn lots of calories in a short amount of time, increase your metabolism and actually promote a very aesthetic physique. (Think sprinter physiques compared to marathon runners...but more on that later.)
This is the kind of cardio one should strive for if their goal is to have a high functioning cardiovascular system. However, I don't recommend people jump right into this. You could really hurt yourself if you're not used to this kind of activity. Get to the point where you can jog for 20 minutes before you take off into a dead sprint and pull a hamstring.
I'm a big proponent of fasted training (more on this later) but I'm a big believer in fasted cardio (Preferably right when you wake up). This of course boils down to personal preference, but I've come to believe it is optimal for weight loss...but i'll do more research and get back to you guys later on that. I will present science rather than opinion.
I know cardio sucks. I think of it as a vitamin (although I don't take vitamins), I do it everyday for the health benefits, the added calories, and so I can still out run most people in basketball. Find the reason and purpose behind your cardio and it becomes not so much of a chore.