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I would like to know the difference between cardio workout and fat burn workout. What is preferable in which case of training? EDIT: I would like to know if in the cardio training phase someone is burning fat or not . And if it is preferable for someone with low body fat trying to build muscles

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    What goal are you trying to achieve? – JohnP Apr 5 '16 at 14:53
  • Can you be more specific? Are you referring to, for example, the running 'modes' on a treadmill/crosstrainer? – Gunge Apr 5 '16 at 14:56
  • @Jjosaur yes I refer to a crosstrainer . – george_t Apr 5 '16 at 15:29
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My answer to you comes as an amateur boxer who has done both training to cut down body fat percentage, but also training to get in better shape to perform HIIT(which a boxing fight essentially is).

would like to know the difference between cardio workout and fat burn workout. What is preferable in which case of training?

Fat burn workout will have you working consistently over a longer time, but at a lower heartrate. It works the aerobic system which should burn fat. For example, if I want to lower my bodyfat percentage, I'll do long runs of maybe 10-12km every other day, at a steady pace(but quite slow, at least for me).

On the other hand, cardio workouts are the opposite - you have a high heart rate and therefore work on the anaerobic system. This can be interval training(i.e. sprint 100m, jog very lightly next 100m, then spring next 100m), constantly pushing your heartrate to the maximum and calming down afterwards. Anaerobic exercises are so short in bursts that they do not per se burn fat, but rather carbs. Which is why, for example, a ketogenic diet is a nightmare for anyone doing sports that include HIIT exercises - you simply gas out almost instantly.

To answer your question - if you want to burn fat, do aerobic exercises(long workouts at low heartrate). If you wanna improve anaerobic capability(HIIT capability), you do short bursts of intervals - it could be rowing, running, boxing.. Anything, really.

And if it is preferable for someone with low body fat trying to build muscles

Not that relevant, this is for conditioning purposes mostly. Muscle comes from either weight training or bodyweight exercises. Either aerobic or anaerobic training can support both. Depends on your end-goal.

  • We answered completely differently on the first part of the question, can you expand your answer with sources? I found lots of evidence that the "fat burning zone" is complete rubbish, but if you have some to the contrary I would be interested to take a look. – Gunge Apr 6 '16 at 11:19
  • Like I wrote, this is how my understanding comes from an amateur boxing perspective. I don't really have sources, I just know this is how both amateurs and professionals train. But the end goal for us(being boxers) would be aerobic conditioning that supports long anaerobic activities(for me, 3 x 2min rounds of boxing in competition. For professionals, up to 12 x 3 min rounds of boxing). – cbll Apr 6 '16 at 13:02
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Answer specific to the modes on a crosstrainer (or similar gym equipment)

Question 1

I would like to know the difference between cardio workout and fat burn workout.

Typically, the "Cardio Workout" mode is linked to a Aerobic style of exercise. They are designed to be long duration, low intensity exercise. A "fat burn" workout program is usually interval or pyramid based where the emphasis is more on anaerobic activity; high intensity over (usually) a shorter duration.

Question 2

What is preferable in which case of training?

I will answer this once question asker has defined his/her goals

Question 3

I would like to know if in the cardio training phase someone is burning fat or not

Understanding the best way to burn fat starts with some basic facts about how your body gets its energy:

  • The body primarily uses fat and carbs for fuel. A small amount of protein is used during exercise, but it's mainly used to repair the muscles after exercise.
  • The ratio of these fuels will shift depending on the activity you're doing.
  • For higher intensity exercise, such as fast-paced running, the body will rely more on carbs for fuel than fat. That's because the metabolic pathways available to break down carbs for energy are more efficient than the pathways available for fat breakdown.
  • For long, slower exercise, fat is used more for energy than carbs.
  • When it comes to weight loss, it doesn't matter what type of fuel you use. What matters is how many calories you burn as opposed to how many calories you take in.

Based on my earlier answer, we could group "cardio training" as medium intensity exercise and "fat burn" as high intensity. Based on a 40 minute session you are burning more calories over a high-intensity session than a medium intensity session. Therefore, you will lose more weight. Exersise.about.com gives some data on this:

The chart below details the fat calories expended by a 130-pound woman during cardio exercise:

                                 Low Intensity  (60-65% MHR) | High Intensity  (80-85% MHR) 
Total Calories expended per min.                 4.86                        6.86 
Fat Calories expended per min.                   2.43                        2.70
Total Calories expended in 30 min.               146                         206 
Total Fat calories expended in 30 min.           73                          82 
Percentage of fat calories burned                50%                         39.85%

In this example, the woman burns more total calories and more fat calories at a higher intensity. This isn't to say that low intensity exercise doesn't have it's place. In fact, endurance workouts should be a staple of a complete fitness program along with shorter, higher intensity workouts or interval workouts, which are a great way to burn calories and build endurance

So your answer is Yes, you will be burning fat.

Question 4

if it is preferable for someone with low body fat trying to build muscles

Defining goals is important, if your goal is to build muscle for either strength or aesthetic then you need to start lifting weights as the majority of your fitness sessions. If you have concerns or questions about lifting weights search for an answer here or ask the question!

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