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Cardio on Rest Days?

It is a word that no one likes. It sends shivers down the spines of most, while some recklessly embrace it without a care in the world. Sadly, it is also something that is a need if you are wanting to get the fat off and get into great shape.


The word is cardio.


It is hard enough to get the nerve to do it on a regular gym day, but what about doing cardio on a rest day? Would it still constitute as a “rest day” if one is doing cardio? Why isn’t there a debate about doing chest or arms on a rest day?

Like it or not, cardio is important. Cardio has so many health benefits that should be looked at and appreciated before any of the vanity-based ones like seeing your abs better or veins. Cardio is great for the heart and lungs and actually helps improve cognitive (brain) function as well.


I am sure training arms helps out in those areas to an extent as well-a very, very short extent. 


Cardio is versatile, and, in all honesty, it is hard to do “too much” of. Reason being is your body will let you know very quickly when it has had enough. So, cardio does not just need to be done on regular gym days but should be done on rest days as well.

Why? The real question is, “why not?”


Anyone that is doing cardio is trying to either lose fat, lose weight, or just get healthier. So, when you have a rest day from your regular training routine that involves resistance training of some sort, cardio still provides you with a “break” but allows you still to burn some calories and get your heart working.


A good approach would be to keep the cardio intensity low to low-moderate on rest days. This means keeping your heart rate around 50%-65% of your MHR (maximum heart rate) for around 20 minutes to at the most an hour. This still gives your body that much needed “break” from what it has been doing and will allow you to go back into your routine that involves resistance training, feeling refreshed and reenergized. A mistake many folks make is they think since they are not doing any form of resistance training that they can do this “balls to the wall” cardio session. Once again, the issue with this is your body needs a break, period. So, getting your heart rate up only so much is key, so you can get a sweat going and burn some calories that you would not be burning if you were just sitting on your couch during those rest days.


So, doing something is always better than doing nothing on those rest days, just be smart. Remember, if your cardio sessions on a “rest day” are as intense as your resistance training during your regular training days, you are by definition not giving yourself a “rest day”.


To burn more calories during your session, take a fat burner or L-carnitine product 30 minutes before your session.


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