My past two article topics were on the significance of weight training and proper nutrition in helping you achieve your health and fitness goals. This month I will conclude this series by explaining the third component that is important in helping you achieve your health and weight loss goals…cardio. While some of you dread the thought of doing cardio, others may actually be doing too much or the wrong type of cardio and not focusing on the other essential aspects for heath and weight loss (nutrition and weight training). No matter where you fit in the most important thing is that you are doing cardio properly, efficiently, and specific for your goals. Read below for a few important notes on cardio.
There are a few different types of cardio:
Low Intensity Cardio – This type of cardio is where your heart rate is kept at a low level no higher than 70% of your maximum heart rate (depending on your age is usually below 130 beats per minute). This type of cardio is good for maintaining cardiovascular health and burning fat without compromising muscle mass. It is most effective when done for a longer period of time (30 min – 1 hour). Some examples of low intensity cardio include brisk walking outdoors, walking on a treadmill, and using a stationary bike.
High Intensity Cardio – This type of cardio involves keeping your heart rate at a high level above 70% of your max heart rate (depending on your age usually around 160 – 180 bpm). This type of cardio is good for increasing cardiovascular endurance as well as fat burning, however it may also lead to burning muscle (which as you learned from my March article is not desirable for fat loss!). It is most effective when done for shorter periods of time for this reason (20 – 45 min). Some examples include running, spinning, rowing, and using an elliptical or stepper. Marathon runners and other athletes may also perform this type of cardio for longer periods of time, however their goals usually surround time, speed and performance, not weight/fat loss.
Interval Training – Is a combination of both low intensity and high intensity cardio in which varying intervals of each are performed for a certain period of time (for example 1 min of high intensity alternated with 1 min of low intensity cardio). This is a very effective type of cardio for fat burning as well as increasing endurance. Since short bursts of high intensity cardio are rotated with a low intensity recovery period, the risk for muscle loss is also less with interval training. Some examples of good interval training cardio options include running sprints/walking, spinning sprints/light cycling, and jumping rope/walking. This type of cardio is most effective when done for shorter periods of time (20 – 45 min).
Whether your goals involve weight/fat loss or maintaining overall heath you should include cardio in your exercise program. No matter what your goals it is a good idea to include all three types of cardio listed above in your program. This way your body does not get used to one type of cardio (making it less effective), and the variation also keeps your workouts more interesting. Remember cardio does not have to be long or really hard as long as you are doing it properly. For more questions on cardio or other fitness and nutrition tips please visit my website www.krissyadams.com.
Filed under: Fitness