Sports Coach Logo Sports Coach Training Principles Fitness Components


Cardio Mistakes to Avoid

Ben Rose provides advice on nine cardio mistakes that beginners must avoid.

Do you struggle to see progress with cardio training? Could be several mistakes are preventing you from reaching your fitness goals?

Most beginners find themselves in the same situation. So, what are some mistakes that are hindering you from getting the most from your cardio training? Here is a list of mistakes to look out for and how to overcome them.

Compensating Bad Eating Habits with Cardio

The right nutrition goes hand in hand with exercise. However, many beginners think they can eat anything they want and compensate for good cardio exercise. I hate to burst your bubble, but it is not possible. Do not expect fat loss if you eat junk food all day long, then do a cardio exercise later.

There is a lot that goes into a healthy lifestyle. You must eat healthy meals and have a night of quality sleep. All these factors, together with cardio training, help you lose weight. However, banking your hopes on cardio alone is zero work.

Doing Cardio Exercise when Hungry

Can a car start without gas? No. The same applies to humans. You can only get very little done when you’ve starved for hours and want to do a cardio exercise. Your workout will be less effective. After a short period, you’ll notice your body can’t take it.

The best practice is to avoid eating 45 minutes to an hour before a workout. Beyond that, you’ll be doing yourself an injustice. Important to note is that different food types take different amounts of time to digest. Fats will take two to four hours to digest.

Carbohydrates can take up to an hour. So, examine your diet and give yourself enough time. Also, remember to stay hydrated.

Energy Drink Before Cardio Training

Energy drinks are high in calories. Most of these drinks target endurance athletes, meaning they have high calories and fat. So, drinking one before cardio training will mean your exercise will burn the calories from the drink rather than the fat stored in your body. This is counterintuitive.

So, to get the most out of your workout, you can take a snack with a low-calorie count if you have to eat something before your workout. But again, remember to take your snack at a reasonable time to allow time for digestion.

Doing Minimal HIIT

High-Intensity Interval Training is one of the best cardio training. However, most beginners shy off from HIIT, yet HIIT exercise burns calories fast compared to an average jog on the treadmill. Ideally, a 20 minute HIIT workout can burn more calories than an hour’s jog on the treadmill.

A high-intensity interval training involves mixing up your workout such that you are interchanging between moderate to high cardio workouts. If you are on the treadmill, perhaps you can alternate between jogging and sprinting for 15 minutes.

Sticking to One Cardio Routine for Too Long

Unlike other workouts, your body gets used to cardio training routines quickly. The more you do cardio, the more your body gets efficient at burning calories. In the long run, your body adapts, and you will be burning minimal calories.

So before you heat a plateau, have a set of cardio exercises that you switch up every two to three weeks to keep the mind guessing and the body challenged.

Another mistake in this category is using the same machine. You can interchange between machines and also try non-machine cardio workouts. Plus, it does not always have to be at the gym. You can occasionally train outside.

Choosing the Wrong Cardio

Beginners do cardio training without knowing if it’s the right one for them and different types of cardio will yield different results. The results will further vary depending on the intensity of the training—the wrong form will also affect your training outcome.

It is important to work with a personal trainer to help you choose the kind of cardio training that’s right for your body. You can also review personal trainer certificate comparisons and find fitness programs that can equip you with the knowledge you need to dive deep into the fitness industry.

Believing That Cardio Will Burn Muscle Mass

Beginners give little attention to cardio, thinking that the exercises will burn their muscle mass. Well, I would like to inform you that your hard-earned muscles will only shrink if you’ve suspended training for over two months, you are deliberately taking very low calories, or you have gone on a long-term dry fast.

Again, you will lose muscle mass doing any exercise if your meal plan is poorly constructed. However, with a proper, balanced diet, cardio training will increase your strength and endurance.

Cardio training boosts the transportation of nutrients and oxygen to your muscles, giving you the energy to train harder and minimize the time your muscles take to recover. The ultimate benefit is strengthening your heart.

Doing Workouts for Too Long

When you do cardio training for long, there are high chances that it will not be intensive. So, focus on a 20-30 minutes cardio workout with short rests in between. Intense cardio training works best if your goal is fat loss.

Doing cardio for long makes it boring. You’ll probably find yourself checking your phone or texting, which is counterintuitive as you won’t give the exercise your best. So, commit to a 30-minute intense workout, and you’ll get the most out of every session.

Sticking to Cardio Only

Another mistake beginners make is sticking to cardio exercise only. Cardio is perfect for strength training, but you are prone to reach a plateau by doing the same training repeatedly. Therefore, integrate other strength training exercises into your workout schedule. This will help you stay motivated.

Now, you know what’s holding you back. You can take your cardio training to the next level. Also, you don’t have to stick to HIIT sessions only. You can do slow cardio during recovery. It helps you maintain an active lifestyle, keeps your heart healthy, and boosts your mental function.

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • ROSE, B (2021) Cardio Mistakes to Avoid [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

About the Author

Ben Rose is the co-founder of He is a certified personal trainer with 10+ years of experience in the fitness industry. Among other disciplines, he is an expert in sports conditioning and strength training.