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Cardiovascular Training

What Is Cardio Training:

Cardio training also known as aerobic, is an exercise, purpose of which is to improve your cardiovascular health. Aerobic means ‘with oxygen’ meaning your body is using oxygen to help provide energy to fuel your workout. For oxygen to be used, the activity must be sustained for a prolonged period at a constant moderate level of intensity.

Cardio is an important component of physical fitness. Cardiovascular fitness is a good measure of the heart’s ability to supply oxygen-rich blood to the muscles and the body. It is basically how strong your heart is, which can potentially add years to your life. Heart is a muscle, and like all other muscles in the body if you keep working it, it will become stronger..
Jogging, Running, Fast Walking, Swimming, Treadmill, Skiing, Elliptical Trainer, jumping rope, rowing and Cycling are some examples of cardio exercise. It is a good idea to vary the aerobic exercises you use. Not only will it keep the boredom away, it will also help prevent adaptation and overuse injuries.

Importance Of Cardio Training:
  • Increases physical endurance
  • Strengthens heart
  • Improves lung function
  • Increases oxygen uptake
  • Reduces risk of high cholesterol
  • Enhances mood and sense of well being
  • Increases blood flow to the muscles
  • Helps control blood pressure
  • Lowers the risk of colon cancer
  • Decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Enhances energy
  • Enhances ability to cope with stress
  • Decreases the risk of coronary artery disease
  • Lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Decreases the risk of osteoporosis
  • Increases insulin sensitivity

Cardio For Fat Burning:

Cardio Training has another important function that is of substantial interest to almost every individual. It burns body fat. It is a good way to accelerate the fat burning process as long as it is not overdone and is used in addition to a good weight training program. It should never be used as a substitute for weight training as cardio does not permanently increase your metabolism like weight training.

Cardio if done right will double your fat loss rate and increase your conditioning. But if done wrong it can cause muscle loss, adaptation, orthopedic injuries and burnout.

Two Major Forms Of Cardiovascular Exercise:
  • Steady State (Low Intensity Training) - This is the typical form of cardio performed at a low-moderate intensity. It involves long, extended sessions of usually 30-60 minutes at a consistent intensity.

The positives are that steady-state training burns a great deal of calories during the exercise, can be done more frequently than high intensity training and is good for beginners who are still adapting their body to exercise.

The downsides are that it can be boring for an extended period of time and the burn of calories does not extend long after the exercise is completed. Also too much of the same movement can cause overuse injuries.

In order for steady state to be effective, it can be performed within the fat burning zone. Your pulse (how fast your heart is beating per minute) determines this zone.

The fat burning zone formula is :  220 minus Your Age X (.75)
(The result of your formula will give you an approximate value of how fast your heart should be beating per minute).

  • HIIT - (High Intensity Interval Training) – This involves alternating before short periods  of very intense movement, such as 15 to 60 seconds of sprinting, with 15-60 seconds of low or moderate intensity. You can adjust your number of intervals, length of intervals based on your goals and fitness level. It should be not be extended to any longer than 20 minutes.

The positives are that HIIT burns a lot of calories during the workout and also your metabolic rate stays elevated much longer after the workout which is known as EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption).

The downsides are that it is more difficult, more explosive, harder on the joints, and certainly not as easy for heavier people, older folks or beginners.

Both steady state and high intensity are beneficial in their own way. Integrating both in the workout routine in the right way would bring out tremendous results and get the best of both worlds as both have their pros and cons.

Cardio Overload

After 60 minutes of consistent cardio your Cortisol (the Stress Hormone) starts to rise making it impossible to lose fat. Immune system gets weakened and heart rate and blood pressure gets affected. Your body goes in a catabolic state and you can lose muscles.

The loss of muscle will not only reduce strength but also slow down the metabolism. And if metabolism slows down too much, you’ll have a difficult time burning fat. Too much cardio will also lead to injuries and over-training issues like aches and pains and consistent feeling of fatigue.

In case you want to do more than 60 minutes per day it is advisable to split it into multiple sessions for example 30-45 minutes each in the morning and in the evening.

Best Times For Performing Cardio (For effective fat burning):

First: In the morning on an empty stomach is the best time for doing cardio. Since you have fasted whole night, your body does not have any glycogen (stored carbohydrates) in the system to burn, Therefore, it  has to go directly into the fat stores to get the necessary energy for doing cardio. Eating before cardio causes a release in insulin, interfering with mobilization of fat. Therefore in fasted state less insulin is present and hence more body fat is burned.

Second: Right after weight training is the other time when cardio is effective. Since glycogen (stored carbohydrate) is used during weight training, the only source of energy left would be fat therefore body will start utilizing its fat stores when you perform cardio after weight training.

Bottom Line: For cardio training to be effective and beneficial the variables needed are:

  • Mode
  • Frequency
  • Duration
  • Intensity