The Best Cardio for You

Most of us are aware of and perform one kind of cardio, low intensity steady state. We may not know we are doing it but low intensity cardio or steady state is performing durational aerobic activity. Our heart rate is kept between 50-65% of our heart rate maximum and the activity is typically performed for 30-60 minutes. The idea behind this method is to keep our heart rate in the “fat burning zone” and use fat as energy by fatiguing the body through a long duration of movement. Low intensity steady state cardio can yield results but again it does take a lot of time, fat burning is believed to only begin after 20 minutes (I’ve read research articles stating it doesn’t begin until after 40 minutes!), and your body will quickly adapt to the work stress so each cardio workout becomes slightly less effective than the previous.

            Another form of cardio is interval training. High intensity interval training (HIIT) burns fat in a different method. Instead of keeping the heart rate steady at 50-65% of its maximum HIIT brings the heart to 90-100% of  its heart rate maximum followed by recovery periods where the heart should lower back down to 30-50% of its maximum. Your activity should continue to cycle the two phases until the workout is complete. Instead of jogging for a long duration you would sprint for 60-90 seconds and then walk for 60-90 seconds for a much shorter duration of time and burning the same amount of calories if not more. Other examples could be jumping rope for 1 minute bouts, running a flight of stairs then walking a flight stairs, or bicycling up a hill then coasting down. This method works because as your heart rate rises and the activity becomes more intense the body uses its stored glycogen (stored fuel) and glucose (blood sugar) rapidly because your muscles think that you are in a “fight for your life”. The recovery period to follow allows you to prepare for your next high intensity bout and thus makes the workout feasible to continue. During the recovery period the body will try and refuel the muscles by grabbing glycogen, glucose, and eventually fat and will remain using fat once glycogen and glucose is depleted.

Advantages of Low-Intensity Steady State Cardio

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Good for beginners to develop an exercise base.
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Beneficial for those who are injured or taking part in rehabilitation
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Aids in recovery from intense training or overtraining
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Great for stress reduction and decluttering the mind
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Easy to perform with little coaching.

 

Advantages of High-Intensity Interval Cardio

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Time efficient (can take almost half the time as low intensity cardio)
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Makes heart and lungs more powerful
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Reduces your risk of heart attack and heart disease
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Builds functional and real strength that allows you to be powerful in real world situations
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Changes the way your body stores food
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Burns more fat
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The workout is enticing- making the time go by faster
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Burns calories after workout

 

My Recommendations;

  1. If your weight loss has slowed or stopped switch your cardio method.
  2. Use both methods throughout the week to keep the body guessing.
  3. Try new exercises for cardio; rowing, running the stairwell, kettlebell swings, jump rope, or even choose a new program on the cardio equipment such as “interval or fat burn”.
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