A lot of people focus on cardio training, believing it should be at the core of their workouts.
If you are not spending an hour running on the treadmill, then how are you supposed to lose weight, right?
This type of attitude towards exercise can make workouts boring and delay results, leading to frustration and dread every time someone mentions cardio training.
So this brings up the question, what type of cardio should you be doing and how much should you do?
Here are 6 types of cardio training and how they can help you:
1. Low Intensity – Long duration cardio
This is a type of cardio done at about 40-60% of your maximal heart rate. Long duration means doing low intensity work for over 30 minutes.
It can help you:
- Lose weight
Low intensity, long duration cardio is a good place to start if you have no previous physical conditioning, are overweight and want to start getting rid of some fat.
For example, say you weigh 91kg (200lbs) and walk for 3km (2miles) at a pace of 10 minutes/km (17min/mile) you will be burning 213kcal.
This is a good place to start, but if you want to speed up the weight loss process, you will have to start thinking about other training options since low intensity, long duration cardio isn’t that efficient.
- If you are suffering from a heart condition
For people suffering from heart condition, this type of workout is also recommended, because low intensity cardio improves heart performance.
It does this by increasing the amount of blood the heart can pump per minute, also known as cardiac output.
- Recover better
If you are training hard, or practicing some sort of highly repetitive and high impact sport (ex: running), adding a session of low intensity cardio can help you recover faster.
Intense workouts create a lot of metabolic compounds that can lead to muscle soreness and fatigue.
Going for a walk or a light pedal session on your bike can help flush out those metabolic compounds.
Running can lead to excessive wear on the joints. So next time you want to go for a run, give them a break and go for a walk.
2. Medium intensity – Medium duration
Medium intensity means going at about 70-75% MHR for about 20-40 minutes.
When you start to breath heavy, that’s when you’re working out at a moderate intensity.
Low intensity cardio will get you started, but medium intensity will start cranking up the volume, helping you build up more endurance.
3. High intensity – Short duration
High intensity short duration means going at about 80-85% MHR for 5-20 minutes.
This is where things start to become challenging since high intensity cardio is more demanding.
4. Aerobic Interval Training
Aerobic interval training means performing moderate intensity work for a period of time, alternating with a period of low intensity work.
For example, you can run for 3 minutes and walk for 1 minute, then repeat.
5. Anaerobic interval training – High intensity interval training (HIIT)
High intensity interval training means going at 85-90% MHR for short periods of time, followed by a recovery period where you do a light activity at about 50% MHR.
This type of training is going to help you lose weight faster than any of the previous types.
Since you are taking short breaks, you will be able to recover and perform at a higher intensity for a longer period of time.
Not only will you be burning more calories during the exercise, but also after, because HIIT helps build up muscle due to Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) .
Circuit training involves choosing 4-5 exercises and going through them in a circuit mode with a short rest period, 30-60 seconds, between the exercises.
You can do bodyweight exercises or use weights. You can even combine the two, making your workout more challenging and fun.
What is the best type of cardio training then?
The best type of cardio is the one you can do safely, that you enjoy doing, and that will help you reach your goals.
If you have low levels of endurance and try to rush, you will puke your guts out and dread your cardio training.
If you stick too long on low intensity workouts you will die of boredom and wonder why you aren’t seeing any results.
So take an honest look at yourself, see where you are and get started!
If you have no conditioning, start with a low intensity cardio workout and build up intensity.
If you want to challenge yourself, try out HIIT.
Keep your HIIT short, with good form and for no more than 3 times a week to prevent overuse injuries.
Circuit training can offer a lot of variety and fun since you can choose bodyweight or weights, or even mix them up.
By focusing on generating maximum intensity with each rep, things will start to heat up really fast, so don’t forget to enjoy your sweet, sweet 30-60 second rest.
Article written by Razvan Dan Ene, MD. Razvan writes at Strength Therapy, where he helps people develop a healthy mind and body with a step by step approach. When you feel ready to take action, get his free special report.
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