Cardio Recommendations

Holly Baxter

Something I highly recommend doing is monitoring your daily steps. When I worked as a personal trainer and dietitian, I would spend several hours every day pacing back and forth across the gym floor or climbing multiple flights of hospital stairs, and generally I spent a lot of time on my feet. When I transitioned my career over to online platforms, I quickly noticed my weight increase due to the sudden change in activity. While I’m not going to give you specific step targets, as all of us will have wildly different occupations and lifestyles, I am going to recommend the following:

If you know your weekly average step count, aim to be as consistent as possible to minimize daily weight fluctuations. If you don’t know your weekly average step count, it’s likely you don’t have a step counter, so I would highly recommend investing in one.


Here are a couple of my favorite step counting devices:

Under $50

  1. Waterproof Smart Fitness Tracker
  2. KoreTrak
  3. Samsung Galaxy Fit2

Under $150

  1. Fitbit

Under $300

  1. Apple Watch

My watch $399

  1. Apple Watch Series 6

For the first week of this program, I want you to track and see what your average step count is for the week. Once you have determined your weekly average, I suggest starting here.

For people not dieting but simply using my program for muscle building, I’d recommend holding your step count steady; be consistent from week to week and aim to stay within a 10% range of your normal weekly average.

For those starting a fat loss phase with me, you may have to add a little more to your weekly average step count throughout the next 12 weeks to keep you in a calorie deficit. Keep in mind, walking contributes very little to your total daily energy expenditure, and if you’re someone who does a lot of unintentional walking as part of your daily activity, it’s likely your body is already very efficient at this form of movement. Therefore, during this fat loss phase, I would not recommend exceeding more than 1 hour per day of planned walking or greater 15,000 steps as your daily average. Some of you however, may reach 15,000 steps with your occupation alone, so if this is you, then I would discourage you from adding more steps. We will add in high intensity intervals (HIT) to help aid in further fat loss instead.

How to make adjustments to cardio

Each week, Carbon Diet Coach is going to make adjustments to your calories based on how you progress. These adjustments are based on the assumption that your activity levels ‘have not changed’ from when you initially signed up. Undoubtedly, at some point the calories you will be consuming are going to become more challenging and your weight loss may begin to plateau. At this point, I recommend adding in some additional HIT to help expend more energy and allow you reach your weekly weight loss target.

The key however is to NOT do too much in week 1! At weeks 4, 8 and 12, I recommend adding in an additional 30 – 60 mins of HIT, such as intervals on the stairmaster or treadmill, a spin class or a 10 exercise light weight full body circuit. Start with short ‘work intervals’ of 15 seconds followed by 45 seconds rest, and work your way up to 45 second work intervals and only 15 seconds of rest. Personally I’d start on the conservative side to begin with, i.e. in week 4 add an extra 30 mins of HIT, then at week 8, add another 30 mins to total 60 mins etc. If you are still losing at the targeted weight, DO NOT add more HIT. The goal is to diet on as high calories as possible with as little cardio as possible while still achieving your weekly weight loss target!

Already doing a lot of cardio?

Now if you’re already exercising like a crazy person, and you’ve been doing this for some time, your cardiovascular fitness is going to be very high at baseline. You see, we adapt to training the same way our metabolism can adapt to lower or higher calories. So if this is you, then you’ll likely need to begin your fat loss phase by starting out with your current activity levels, and only add additional HIT if your weight loss plateaus. Use the above mentioned guidelines for when and how much to add.

Consistency

I can’t stress enough about the importance of consistency. This goes for nutrition and activity. If you’re someone who continually changes your workouts around or your step count varies by 5000 from one week to the next, this will reduce the likeliness of you progressing towards your goal. This is because of its influence on your total weekly energy expenditure. If you fall behind your goal and you burn fewer calories through inconsistent training or activity, or poor dietary adherence, you may not reach your weight loss target. Make sure you are using my workout builder programs, logging your weights and keeping track of your daily activity and macros for the best results!