Just Doing Cardio? Here’s Why You Won’t Hit Your Goals

Fitness // Louise McDonald

It might seem like a natural assumption that by doing tons of cardio, you are well on your way to fitness success, but by just focusing on cardio as a stand alone element of your training, this can actually prevent you from reaching your full potential.

Here’s why:

Missing Key Aspects

Cardiovascular exercise is fantastic for heart health, keeping blood pressure levels in a great range and increasing fitness, but this is only part of the equation to overall ‘wellness’. Links to improving your posture, working specifically on changing your shape and promoting better sleeping patterns, all tie into a powerful strategy for achieving your goals.

Losing Muscle

If cardio is your primary approach to exercise, you are undoubtedly using lots of energy and burning calories, but the source of your fuel can often be the good type… your lovely muscles (and you don’t want to lose them!).

Fat Loss Slowing

If you are losing muscle, your BMR can potentially slow down, meaning you’re less effective at burning fat. Often there is a surge of weight loss when you first start exercising, but as your routine evolves with frequency and intensity, a decline in efficacy can curb the speed of results if you’re not working on muscle growth/maintenance.

Increased Hunger & Weight Gain

It’s true that big numbers of total calories burned can be accumulated through cardio, but the other side of the coin can be that your appetite reflects this and some people may in fact eat MORE with a false sense of ‘worthiness’ after completing a hard session.


Persistent aches and pains can develop into bigger problems when there is repetitive action at play and only one stream of exercise execution. Not giving your body some diversity with training can set niggles in motion and with the same part of your body being favoured for the exercise, this can progress to more serious issues. 


Without variance to your training, plateaus are more likely to occur with adaptation. Working out with the same content can be down right boring and far less engaging! Motivation can drop, excuses start to set in and just wait for the onset of decreased overall effort!


Many people that follow a ‘cardio only’ system have a governed way to their tracking, which is often a meticulous tracking of numbers and ‘rewards’ for hitting the big ones. This can look like having to reach a certain number of calories burned, before feeling successful. Doing your best is perfect, despite wavering outcomes with numbers.

Health Risks/Issues

Strength training is an important component of exercise, to aid in better bone density, muscle development and effective basal metabolic rate. Not addressing other aspects of training outside of cardio, can invite opportunities for risks to increase. With some exercises, problems might arise through the impact or intensity. This can lead to joint problems or even organs being compromised with inadequate hydration/nutrition. Dehydration can also be linked more so to cardio activity in excess and this funnels into many other concerns in the body to hinder progress.


Also read: Weight Loss Plateau? Here’s How to Break It

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