There is a lot of confusion out there about cardio exercise. In this article, we uncover 14 key tips to help you get more out of your cardio training.
Defining Our Terms
The word aerobic literally means ‘with oxygen’. Most people associate aerobic exercise with slow to medium paced repetitive movements over an extended period of time. When you do this type of exercise, such as walking on a treadmill for a half hour, you burn more fat as a percentage of energy to provide the fuel your body needs to do the exercise than glycogen. But that doesn’t make it the best form of exercise for fat loss.
Even though you burn more percentage of energy through fat metabolism, you will burn more overall calories when you train with higher intensity on such things as strength training. In addition, the more intense the form of exercise, the longer the excess post-exercise energy consumption (EPOC) or afterburn effect will be.
When you are focused on aerobic exercises, such as walking or running on a treadmill, you will make improvements to your aerobic capacity. This term refers to the respiratory system. The capacity of this system is measured by a unit known as VO2 max – your maximum oxygen consumption. Your VO2 max is of great importance as you are an endurance athlete. However, if you are involved in workouts for general strength and fitness, it is less significant.
Despite what many people may think, there has never been a proven scientific link between increased VO2 max and a person’s enhanced cardiovascular health. VO2 max is an important health factor, but it is not the most efficient way to attain to heart health.
As you are no doubt aware, your cardiovascular health is a key indicator of your overall well-being. As a result, you need to carefully monitor the start of your cardio system. This system encompasses your heart, your veins, arteries, the pulmonary and systemic circulation routes.
The startling truth for many people is that cardiovascular health is not directly connected to aerobic training, despite what we are constantly told.
Cardiorespiratory fitness is another term that you may come across. It refers to the respiratory and circulatory systems’ ability to provide oxygen to your muscles while you are exercising. This will help to make your workouts more effective. More importantly, it will make every action you take also more efficient.
Again, however, cardiovascular fitness is the not the exclusive domain of aerobic exercise training. Strength and resistance training (such as that with resistance bands) can provide an even more effective way to improve your cardiovascular fitness.
14 Cardio Tips
Aerobic exercise (or ‘cardio’ as it has come to be known) is definitely not the best way to burn fat. This is especially the case if you only have a short time to exercise. Resistance training using bands, your body weight or barbells and dumbbells, done for twenty minutes each day, 3 times per week is the best way to go.
Cardio exercise can be useful for burning off body fat that you can add to your program AFTER you have cemented 3-4 sessions of resistance training (bands are great) into your weekly routine.
Extended sessions of cardiovascular exercise can work against you. It can negatively affect your levels of cortisol, making it harder to recover from your resistance training workouts. This can negatively affect your ability to develop tone and shape to your muscles.
Aerobic exercise benefits can come to a halt after six to eight weeks of training. The result is that there is not a lot of value in carrying on with long, slow conventional cardio to make ongoing fitness improvements. You can effectively work your heart, speed up your metabolism and enhance your aerobic fitness without having to emphasize cardio exercise. The reality is that you really do not have to do any type of cardio training at all.
If you are wanting to do some cardio to help with fat loss and overall fitness, your best bet is to vary the type of cardio that you are doing. This type of variation will keep your body guessing, preventing it from adapting to the type of cardio that you are doing. When on the treadmill, try out the various built-in programs, including increasing the gradient on which you are running.
There are those people who complain that oxidative stress and enhanced levels of cortisol result from doing cardio exercise. But if you are otherwise healthy, a moderate amount of cardio will not be detrimental in these ways.
However, this doesn’t give you carte blanche to spend hours on end on the treadmill. Full out cardio, whether it is HIIT style or low-intensity exercise, needs to be performed on a limited scale, maybe for two or three half hours sessions each week. This will help to get rid of excess body fat. Enjoying an evening stroll walk every day will also do wonders for your overall physical and mental well-being.
People who are wanting to put on muscle size will benefit from a half hour of speed walking, 3-4 times each week. This will accelerate fat loss and increase anabolic hormone release without sacrificing your resistance training recovery effort.
If you are seeking to maximize muscle mass while getting leaner at the same time, then the best ratio of resistance training to fast walking is 6:1 For people who are more focused on losing fat, the ratio should be 6:4, so for every resistance training workout, you should do four fast walks of between 30-45 minutes duration. Use a pace of around 100 paces per minute.
Interval training is a great asset for anyone who is trying to achieve a lean, athletic physique. Interval training involves doing short duration very intense exercise of 10-40 seconds followed by short rest periods and then repeated over and over again.
Many people are confused about the best time to do cardio exercise. While the exact time of the day is not so important, what is important is when you do your cardio in relation to your resistance exercise.
The rule is that your cardio work should always follow after your resistance training. If you are used to doing your cardio before your resistance training, your performance on the resistance workout and your ability to burn body fat will also be impaired. After your resistance training session, your body will more readily release fatty acids into your bloodstream to be used as energy.
You may hear people claim that you should do no cardio training whatsoever on machines that are connected to an electrical output because they are liable to bring on electromagnetic stress (EMS). It is believed that this will increase the levels of cortisol and even increase insulin resistance. Some go so far as to claim tht you shouldn’t even use your iPod when you are on a cardio machine.
The truth is that none of this is true. You can exercise on electric machines and even use your iPod, with no negative effects.
The preferred types of cardio exercise are the treadmill, the rowing machine, the versa climber, the skipping rope and the boxing speed bag. Each of these types of cardio workout allows for versatile training modalities, and they allow you to change your training intensity very quickly.
When it comes to steady state exercise, the best thing you can is to regularly take a fast walk. As well as burning through the calories, you will also be allowing for mindfulness time.
People who are used to doing a lot of cardio get hooked on the endorphin rush. You can get that same endorphin rush from learning to do resistance training with increased training volume and shortened rest between sets. Circuits that involve 4-5 exercises with no rest between them are a great way to do this.
The most effective way to get rid of body fat from your body may come as a surprise to you – it is a variation of strength training. When you train this way, you will boost your metabolism for the next 36 hours. It is hard, intense and short training that is done explosively.
The simplest and possibly the most effective way to incorporate strongman training into your routine is to go out into your driveway, take the handbrake off your car and attempt to push it one car length. Then push it back to the start position. If you actually do these 3 times per week, you will be amazed at how much body fat you will lose in 3 months.