Main purpose of training is adaptation, (2 of 2) calorie burn Vs. Diet compliance, the real workout is with diet compliance.
Another problem people encounter with working out is doing it for the calorie burn. While activity certainly burns calories, the cost to benefits ratio of excessive cardio is not good. While a reasonable amount of cardio can provide multiple benefits, a more is better approach to cardio is destructive. Many people truly believe that the more calories they burn, and the faster, the better. What people ignore in this instance is the interaction of the bodies catabolic (muscle destroying) and anabolic (muscle building hormones) when exercising. Very strenuous exercise has a very negative affect on the bodies muscle tissue and metabolic function. Extremely long and hard workouts do not work well for people who are not on drugs. While it is fun to push yourself, this does not always translate into better results. Usually increasing performance over time is the best way to get results. Many people feel that they just need to work harder and harder. This attitude is most readily apparent when it comes to burning calories through cardiovascular activity.
Burning calories through lots of cardio is not a good way to look better. The reason is that excessive cardio wreaks havoc on your muscles. It also can interfere with the proper function of your metabolism when done excessively. When done as a balanced part of a training program cardio can have a bunch of positive effects. For example, high intensity cardiovascular training is known to blunt hunger and increase the amount of calories your body burns. Both of these affects can be positive for someone trying to lose body-fat. However, even these seemingly positive effects can be taken too far. If you do high intensity cardio too often it can definitely begin to interfere with your recovery. Recovery from weight training should be your main focus whenever you are trying to get leaner. This is because anyone who is trying to stay lean is most likely on a relatively restrictive diet. Whenever a restrictive diet is used, this means that recovery abilities are not maximized. Therefore doing excessive activity outside of what is needed to maintain muscle is usually a bad idea. So, a little cardio can be positive and help with diet compliance. When that little cardio crosses the line to being too much, it can destroy the results you hope to achieve through weight training. The line from a little helpful cardio to too much and destructive cardio is very individual. This is another variable in training that needs to be experimented with.
One way to know you are doing too much cardio is if you are relying on it to keep you lean. Diet should be the number 1 tool used to manipulate boy composition by far. Many people can get as lean as they want with diet and weight training alone. This approach is fairly extreme, but a good example of the relative importance of cardio vs. diet. Ideally you will be able to use cardio to assist with diet compliance as well as metabolic efficiency. Most people report cardiovascular activity adding to their overall sense of wellbeing. For many people a reasonable amount of cardio is very effective in assisting with diet compliance as certain types can blunt hunger. The main thing to keep in mind is that diet should be what is driving the changes in your weight and body fat level not cardio.
Adhering to a diet will be more of a challenge for most people then working out. Expending a great deal of effort in a short period of time is much more natural for many people then maintaining awareness of what they are eating. In this way, maintaining an awareness of what you are eating and how closely you are following your diet will be your real daily workout. For many people getting pretty close to what they planned or should be eating is pretty hard. This is because changing eating habits or relating to food in a different way is very un-natural. Most people who maintain low body-fat are used to paying attention to what they eat all the time. For most people who do that year round they are no longer making a huge conscious effort. The effort is certainly more than someone who truly doesn’t care what they eat. However, for many people who are lean year round, their normal habits are just based around being conscious of what they are eating and steering their food choices in the right direction. Making a shift toward relating to food in this way will be a bigger challenge then any crazy daily workouts for most people.