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Cardio Free

Cardio Free

Jim Karas makes a shocking claim about cardio exercise.

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Do you hate all the traditional cardio exercises, like jogging, walking and spinning? Feel like all that work is leading nowhere? Then stop. Jim Karas, personal trainer and author of The Cardio-Free Diet says you don't need to do it. In fact, he goes as far as to say that cardio exercises could actually be doing more harm to your body than they're helping. Karas says through regulated strength training, you'll find the weight loss results you're seeking, increase energy, metabolism and develop a sexier, more toned figure.

The Cardio-Free Diet claims you'll need 20-minute strength sessions only three days a week. Strength training is widely championed as a more effective way to burn fat and create muscle. By committing to these strength exercises, you're picking up all of benefits you thought you were getting from cardio and still promoting a healthy heart. By strengthening your body's lean muscle mass, you'll tone up and burn calories more effectively than with cardio.

Why the negative spin on cardio? Karas says the impact can cause damage to your knees, ankles and back and even damage internal organs. Plus, it's not burning nearly as many calories as you think it is.

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  • Focuses people on the importance of strength training.
  • Discounts widely supported claims to cardio benefits

  • Limited diet guidance


Karas recommends counting calories and eating a 100-calorie snack before and after your workouts. Always eat breakfast, never skip meals, and increase fiber. He advises eating six small meals a day. Nothing groundbreaking or different here.


Let’s just say that you're not exactly going to be harming yourself if you exclude cardio. You’ll probably lose weight on this diet and exercise plan. But it seems odd that Karas is the only so-called expert touting the idea of cardio exercise not only being unnecessary, but dangerous.

As you might suspect, The Cardio-Free Diet has critics. Some say that Karas is misleading people and could potentially harm individuals by straying them away from cardio exercises that medical professionals have spent decades trying to make the public appreciate. Others say that Karas brings up an important point, but that there should be a balance between cardio and strength training.

Common MisspellingsCommon Misspellings

Cardo free diet, cardo free diet, cardio free deit, cardio deit, cardio diet, no cardio diet

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(Page 1 of 1, 12 total comments)

James Brian


It didn't work.

posted May 18th, 2013 4:58 am

Deborah elenio

I read the book for petites by the good doctor and ordered the straps and they worked. My problem is am I doing the workouts correctly ? I need a video on the same workout in the book for petites to make sure I'm dinging the workout correctly.

posted Mar 25th, 2012 12:59 am



All right, looks like my kind of diet! Time to skip the treadmill!!!

posted Oct 4th, 2011 3:02 pm

mike & dolly

my hubby & I have been on this program for over a year and we LOVE it!! Talk about something that really works.... this is it! There is only one hitch, you have to do these exercises correctly or they will not benifet you the way they should. Every thing is work and think about it, you had to work at getting fat, I mean, you had to have the right {or should I say wrong} mindset to get chubby anyway...so quit whining and get to work. This is one of the few plans that will give you a second chance at lookin good so hop to it !

posted Mar 5th, 2011 3:27 pm


I am 68 years old & have reached the stage in my physical training where I'm looking for things that work. I keep very fit, don't eat junk & have often wondered about the frantic efforts of people in gyms who equate sweat with fat loss. I participate in martial arts training several times a week as well as other light stuff so do get in some cardio & do my own weight training. I have experimented with all kinds of training over my lifetime, I have been physical training since my teens & have seen revolutionary changes in training methods for over 50 years. I think I know quite a bit about physical training at my stage of life but as with all seniors I am beginning to experience (slight) muscle & strength loss & it's more of an effort to maintain my weight, which is the same as in my 20s. I have a vast library of physical training books so rarely buy them these days but I read this book (from the library). I read through the concepts & made immediate changes to my current resistance training program & can state outright that the guy has nailed it. The principles work & if you really understand physical training it's easy to see why. The book is written mostly for beginners but has good advice for advanced people as well. This program will probably work for everybody & his advice on diet is very general but solid.

posted Nov 16th, 2010 11:28 pm



I left a comment just three days ago, on the evening of my first day trying this program. I had to return to add to my comments (and my thumbs-up!) to what I said before. (This will be long -- sorry!)

Since the program only requires a workout every other day, I have only worked out twice so far. Both workouts were surprisingly difficult, and had my heart pumping and my muscles twitching for at least half an hour after I had finished. But the hell only lasted 20 minutes, so I could mentally push myself through.

You have to understand that I am not a beginner. I am a reasonably fit woman -- I've been bouncing between my goal weight and 8 to 10 pounds above it for the past year (between a size 4 and 6). I started this program because I was sick of the back-and-forth and wanted to try something other than the 45 - 60 minutes of circuit training I've done 4 to 5 times per week for four years now (starting at 5am - blech).

Since I'm a home schooling mom, who's also a freelance writer and editor, it is extremely difficult to fit in an hour or so every week day. I wanted something that would work more easily with my crazy schedule and allow me to sleep until 5:30 to 6:00!

This is it. I can do the workouts while my daughters are busy with math or reading, and I'm finished before they are. It doesn't distract them, because I don't have some workout dvd blasting in the background; I'm not out of the house on a run where they can't ask me questions if they need to. I'm just hanging out in the living room with some free weights for less than half an hour.

And in three days - that's just two workouts, plus less-than-stellar adherence to the calorie restrictions that Karas recommends - I have lost 3.2 pounds. Now, remember, I'm not someone who went from no exercise & no calorie-counting into this program. I was already in the midst of an intense exercise program, and was restricting my calories to 1400 - 1600 per day. So the huge weight loss in just three days is truly astonishing.

I am thrilled and cannot believe my good fortune in finding this program. Oh - and I feel fantastic! I have not needed my afternoon snoozes like I usually do; I have been laughing more, craving fewer carbs, even thinking more clearly. I know - it sounds too amazing. But keep in mind: this is not a quick fix or an easy fix. It's just a GREAT fix.

Try it before you knock it. I'm already browsing for size 2 jeans to buy myself in a couple of months for Christmas.

posted Oct 22nd, 2010 9:44 am


Karas is not the only one promoting this idea. In addition to the names mentioned in earlier comments, there's also "Get Stronger, Feel Younger" by Wayne Westcott, PhD, and Gary Reinl.

What's overlooked in this review (and in some comments) is that Karas' program of intense weight training with little/no rest in between does raise the heart rate, just like cardio. So you aren't losing the heart benefits of cardio like it might seem.

I just finished reading the book, and I started the program today. I was amazed at how quickly my heart started pumping, and how great (and tired) I felt after only twenty minutes.

FYI -- the twenty minute workout is only for Phase One, which is the first two weeks. The time increases a bit with each phase until you get to Phase Five, when it levels off at about 40 - 45 minutes, three times/week.

posted Oct 19th, 2010 5:46 pm

Mel C


Cardio just like excessive protein intake is an overly marketed and popularized ploy to sell products that gained momentum and ended up as "factual information". Resistance training far outweighs the so called benefits of cardio and far less damaging. Karas is not the only author exposing these fallacy. Look up the works of Brand Pilon and Lou Shouler that are now proving the marketing wrong.

posted Feb 27th, 2010 8:03 pm

marilyn dilley

we need to lose weight my husband & myself so please help

posted Jan 15th, 2009 8:30 am

tina dhir


i want to loss weight so suggest me some exercises or yoga

posted Nov 23rd, 2008 4:57 am


Check out Scott Connelly's "Body Rx". He too promotes an aerobic free exercise plan. Claims strength training is more beneficial and productive to fat loss. Terrific, easy to follow program.


sounds dumb....clearly cardio is good for you


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