What is cardio training and what are its benefits?

What is cardio training and what are its benefits?

If you are barely starting out to exercise, are overweight or recovering from an injury, then cardio training is an excellent choice to lay down some base fitness experience.

Cardio training, or aerobic training, is a type of training that places a significant metabolic demand on the body.

It forces your heart and lungs to work harder and for a longer period of time in order to provide oxygen to your body.

In comparison to aerobic training, anaerobic training does not require oxygen and cannot be performed for a long period of time.

Depending on your goals and preferences, cardio training can be performed by itself or in combination with a type of anaerobic training.

Aerobic exercises include:

  • Walking
  • Jumping rope
  • Jogging
  •  Swimming
  •  Rowing
  •  Cycling

You can vary the intensity of your training by starting with a low intensity workout and, as your physical condition improves, move on to a higher intensity workout.

How do you determine the intensity of a workout?

Workout Intensity refers to the percentage of your maximal heart rate (MHR) that your reach during an aerobic workout.

You can determine your maximal heart rate by subtracting your age from 220.

For example, if you are 35 years old the formula looks like the following:

220-35 (age in years) = 185 beats/minute (bpm)

Determining the intensity of your workout is important because you have to know if you are doing enough exercise or too much exercise.

What does low, moderate and high intensity mean?

  • Low Intensity

Low intensity means going at about 40-60% MHR.

For example: 185 X 60% ( or 0.6) = 111 bpm

  • Moderate Intensity

Moderate intensity means going at about 70-75% MHR

For example: 185 X 75% (or 0.75) = 139 bpm

  • High Intensity:

High intensity means going at about 80-85% MHR

For example: 185 X 85% (or 0.85) = 157 bpm

What about the major benefits of cardio training?

1. Reduce fat

During a cardio exercise you will burn plenty of calories, especially if you are working out at a high intensity.

For example, an average person who weighs 70kg (155lbs) and performs a 30 min high intensity workout, will burn 260 kcal, whereas a person weighing 83kg (185lbs) will burn 311 kcal.

And since it’s a sustained and prolonged effort, you will empty out your carbohydrates reserves and start burning fat for fuel.

To find out how many calories you burn according to weight and different activities, click here.

2. Easy to start

You can get started on aerobic training with next to nothing and at your own pace.

Just put your shoes on, walk out the door and you’re on your way.

Go for a 30 minute walk.

If walking seems easy, try a light jog. Key here is to get started and determine your pace.

Building up a routine is more important than anything else. This will ensure you build up consistency with your workout.

Being consistent will help you progress, raising the intensity and getting better results.

3. Strengthens the heart

Aerobic training can help your heart perform better.

It does this by improving your:

  • Cardiac output

Cardiac output is the amount of liters of blood pumped by the heart per minute.

Normally the cardiac output is about 5l/min, but during an aerobic training session it can reach up to 20-22L/min.

With consistent training our heart will adapt and be able to perform better even at rest.

  • Stroke volume

Stoke volume represents how much ml of blood the heart pumps per beat.

During an aerobic training session, the muscles in your body act as a pump sending more blood to the heart, making it fill better with blood.

With the increased volume, the heart muscles are forced to stretch, this results in a much greater contraction force.

It’s like when you are playing with a rubber band, the more you stretch it, the further it will fly when you release it.

Same with the heart, the more it’s stretched, the bigger the systolic ejection force and heart emptying, therefore the bigger the amount of blood it pumps with every beat.

This means less work for your heart, because it reduces the number of beats per minute, leading to a slower heart rate and potentially lowering your blood pressure.

4. Improves breathing

Aerobic training has a major impact upon oxygen uptake and carbon dioxide production.

The body needs more oxygen to function, therefore your breathing frequency increases from 12-15 breath per minute up to 35-45 breath per minute.

The breathing becomes deeper, the amount of inhaled air with each breath increases.

When resting you inhale roughly around 0,4 to 1l of air. When you are engaged in an aerobic activity, the amount of inhaled air per breath can rise up to 3L per breath.

Your lungs and breathing muscles will become better at fueling you with oxygen, increasing your endurance.

5. Improves social life

Aerobic training can add to your social life.

If you are into running, you can find a running partner and make your exercise more fun.

Try out a dancing class and get to meet new people.

Join or build a team with friends and through a ball around during the evening or in the weekend.

It all comes down to being social and engaging in some sort of physical activity, making it a lot more exciting.

Other benefits of aerobic training, that are usually associated with any form of regular exercise include:

  • Better sleep
  • Better mood
  • Lowers depression
  • Better immune system
  • Lowers the risk of heart dieses, stroke and metabolic syndrome

A few things to look out for when performing aerobic training:

1. Does not increase muscle mass

If you are looking to build muscle mass, aerobic training might not be the right thing for you since it offers little resistance.

If gaining muscle is what you want, try out strength training.

2. Difficult for individuals with chronic pain

If you have some sort of chronic pain, go see a doctor first and address the pain issue.

After you are cleared, seek out a coach that can help you train by working around the pain.

3. Can get boring

If you decide to pick up running and it gets boring after a while, no problem.

Take a break from it and try out a different activity like swimming or cycling.

4. Can cause overuse injuries

Since cardio involves repetitive and sustained effort, it can lead to overuse injuries.

Taking a step back once in awhile and trying something new, is recommended.

Doing routine maintenance work like foam rolling, stretching and resting sufficiently can lower the risk of overuse injuries.

Cardio training is a great way to start exercising regularly helping you build up a fitness base so that you can be able to perform better in any physical activity.

Using it as tool and combing it with some sort of strength training you can achieve grate results and keep you workouts challenging and fun.

Happy living,


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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