HomeTom Venuto

Basketball for Fat Loss?

I have asked several other experts about this and so far no one seems to give me an EXACT answer. Some trainers tell me I have to go steady and nonstop for 30 minutes straight or more to burn fat. Others tell me I have to do intervals and they have to be in a certain ratio of sprint to recovery. I’m getting tired of my cardio ritual and would like a change. I love basketball. I could play for an hour and enjoy every minute of it, and I FEEL like I’m getting a good workout doing it. But is it really the same as something like a good run?

I just plugged basketball into my calories burned calculator and it says that if you weigh 185 pounds, moderate basketball (full court game play) burns 839 calories per hour. Moderate basketball (non-game) is 528 calories per hour. I’m guessing “non-game” means either half court or just casual play with your buddies.

Either way, 528-839 calories burned per hour sounds like a good fat burner to me – especially the all-out, full court basketball. Don’t you agree?

Basketball also gives you a wide variety of different physical challenges and intensity levels – running down the court, jumping, pivoting, shooting – and you said you enjoy it.

If you feel guilty when you finish your game, as if you didn’t burn enough, when the game is over, just run intervals up and down the court… do about 6-10 of them or until you yak. (just kidding).

If I were to clarify my position on cardio training in my fat loss book today, I don’t think I would change my recommendations much. I’m a very strong proponent of exercise and becoming more active to burn fat rather than just cutting calories. However, I might change some of the language to make it clearer that fat loss is about BURNING calories and that your choices for HOW to burn them are virtually infinite.

The problem, in my opinion?

The word “aerobics” sets people off… especially the macho guys. There’s an instant emotional connotation carried in the word “aerobics, and it’s negative for many people. “Aerobics” is also usually a very narrow definition making for a fairly small list of choices.

I like the word “cardio” a little better, because it’s a little broader, but even “cardio” carries with it some pre-conceived notions and it’s unclear whether various types of “cardio” exercise are good fat burners.

Is basketball cardio? I suppose it depends on your definition.

Is basketball a good fat burner? Sure. But you might not think so if you were inflexible about how you define exercise and training.

What I would do if I wanted to most clearly define what makes a good fat burner, I’d recommend that you focus on:


This description leaves the choice of activity up to your own personal interpretation and personal preference.

Is 500 to 800 calories per hour a lot of energy to expend? You bet. Better still is the fact that you enjoy it. I know, I know, everyone wants to be told EXACTLY what to do; how many minutes, what intensity, what type, what heart rate, blah, blah, blah, and gurus are infamous for being dogmatic about their systems as the “best way” or “only way.”

But what if Dan loves basketball and Tom loves the Stepmill and Joe loves to jog and Kyle likes calisthenics and John likes kettlebells and Suzy likes kickboxing? Then what?

By changing your language and focusing on increasing “energy expenditure” (Burning more), that should change your conception of what efficient fat burning exercise is.

DEFINITION OF GOOD FAT BURNING EXERCISE = High # of total calories burned/expended

DEFINITION OF GREAT FAT BURNING EXERCISE = High # of total calories burned/expended and high # expended per unit of time

DEFINITION OF WHOOP-ASS FAT BURNING EXERCISE = High # of total calories burned and high # burned in a short period of time and you love doing it! It’s play time!

Fat oxidation and excess post exercise energy expenditure and all that other scientific stuff (that I could bore you to death talking about) does matter, but your primary focus should be on:

1.) Burning as many calories as you can in the time you have.
2.) Finding something you like to do.
3.) Focusing on RESULTS above all else… Is your body fat decreasing or not?

Last, but not least, don’t forget that optimal fat loss is achieved with a three-part approch including nutrition, weight training and “cardio” training. I’m not saying that basketball should replace your strength training. I’m suggesting that basketball or other sports can be a perfectly viable alternative to traditional aerobics or cardio if they’re high energy cost activities.

Using my new definition for fat burning exercise should help lift the fog of confusion that has been created by only defining fat burning exercise as”aerobics” or “cardio.”The word “Aerobics” is somewhat restrictive in scope and definition. The possibilites for “expending energy” are endless.

So now, go forth and BURN THE FAT… however you choose to do it… just do it!

To learn more about the exact system I use to get lean enough to see 6-pack abs, visit my site at www.BurnTheFat.com

Train hard and expect success!

Burn The Fat, Feed the Muscle is the most detailed, one-stop guide to fat burning nutrition you’ll ever find.That’s why so many people call it the fat loss bible.

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