Basics of Cardio

Everything cardio. From the right footwear to how to run a marathon or become an elite sprinter

Basics of Cardio

Postby Canuck Singh » Fri Jun 06, 2008 7:16 pm

What is Cardiovascular Fitness?

Cardiovascular fitness can be defined simply as your body's ability to get oxygen and blood to the muscles. The slang term "wind" sums it up nicely.

* When doing physical activity & your pulse quickens and your breathing gets deeper, you utilize cardiovascular system
* You can improve your cardiovascular system's efficiency through regular training.
* The short term used when referring to cardiovascular exercise is Cardio.

How much Cardio do I need?

There are a few simple guidelines you can follow when determining how much cardio work you should do. Basically, it all comes down to your goals.

* If you are trying to lose fat, you need to do more cardio than if you are trying to gain weight. For fat loss, three to five times per week at 15 to 30 minutes per session is plenty. Start conservatively if you are just starting training, e.g. three times per week, 20 minutes per session.

* If you are trying to gain weight, you will find that goal easier to achieve if you don't do any cardio at all, though you will still maintain health benefits without much effect on your weight gain if you do light cardio work twice a week for 20 minutes.

How Much Cardio Do I Need?

* For improving cardiovascular fitness in general, three or four times per week for 15 to 40 minutes per session (depending on your current level of fitness) will yield good results.

Which Type of Cardio Should I Do?

Cardiovascular training, no matter what the exercise, is categorized based on duration and intensity. When you are choosing which type of cardio to do, keep your goals in mind.

* If your goal is to improve your general cardiovascular fitness, do moderate intensity work where you are starting to breathe deeply and you can feel that you are working..
* If your goal is fat loss but you're in poor shape, do low intensity, long duration work such as walking.
* If you want fat loss and you're in reasonably good cardiovascular shape, do the type that burns the most calories, i.e. high-intensity training (explained in detail below).

Maximum Heart Rate

* Your maximum heart rate (HR max) is the theoretical number of beats per minute that your heart is capable of

* This is found by subtracting your age from 220, e.g. if you're 40 years old,
220 - 40 = 180 HR max.


* This is simply an estimation, not an absolute limit.

* To measure aerobic exercise intensity, percentage of HR max (%HR max) is often used. If you want to exercise at 60% of your HR max, your heart rate should be, using the example above, around 108 beats per minute.

* Your heart rate is your guide for cardiovascular exercise intensity.

Target Heart Rate

Your Target Heart Rate is the range of heart beats per minute at which you should work at in order to best achieve aerobic fitness. This range is typically between 60% to 80% of your HR max. The bottom end of the scale is best for low intensity training while the top end is for high intensity training.

Taking Your Heart Rate

* The first is on the inside of the wrist below your thumb. Use your forefinger and middle finger to feel the pulse (this is known as palpation).
* The second site is on the carotid artery on the neck (either side). Place your fingers on the side of your windpipe, just below the jaw.

* Count the beats for 10 seconds then multiply by six to get beats per minute. This count can last for 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 30 seconds or a full minute. Multiply by 6, 4, 3, and 2 respectively to get beats per minute.

Taking Your Heart Rate

* An electronic heart rate monitor that is strapped to your chest or on a watch can also be used to keep track of your heart rate (the chest strap style is usually more accurate, being much closer to your heart).

* There are also some cardio machines that have touch sensitive pads on the handlebars that can take your pulse by counting the electrical signals of your heart beat. Make sure the pads are clean and dry and grip them firmly.

The Low Intensity = Fat Loss Myth

It is a myth that low intensity is best for fat loss just because more fat is burned for fuel as a percentage of the total calories burned.

* Low Intensity (L.I. for short) burns about 50% fat for fuel while High Intensity (H.I.) burns about 40%. This is not a big difference.

Say, for example, you burn 100 calories in 20 minutes of L.I. work compared to 160 calories in 10 minutes of HI work, you've still burned more total fat doing HI.

Low Intensity
100 calories x 50% = 50 calories

High Intensity
160 calories x 40% = 64 calories

Low Intensity Cardio vs. High Intensity Cardio

* High intensity training will also boost your metabolism long AFTER the workout is done. This does not happen with low intensity training. High Intensity training is a powerful fat loss tool, but should only be used by trainers who already have a good level of fitness.

The basic idea when you're trying to lose fat is to create a caloric deficit. The type of training does not matter so much as creating that deficit. High Intensity training just creates the deficit more efficiently than Low Intensity training.

Aerobic vs. Anaerobic

Aerobic literally means with oxygen while anaerobic means without oxygen.
* The Aerobic training zone is the training intensity where you are burning fuel with oxygen.
* The Anaerobic training zone is the training intensity where you are burning fuel without oxygen.

Aerobic vs. Anaerobic

The Anaerobic Threshold is the point at which the aerobic, oxygen-burning system can no longer supply enough energy to meet the demands of the exercise and you begin to produce lactic acid. Once over 85% HR max, you will not last longer than a few minutes unless you decrease the intensity. High caliber endurance athletes can feel the point where they are about to cross their Anaerobic Threshold and can operate for long periods of time just below it.

Cardio and Weight Training

The best way to incorporate cardio into your training is to do it in a completely different session then your weight training. If you plan on doing both weights and cardio in the same session, do the weights first. There are two major reasons for this:

* First, doing cardio before weights will pre-fatigue your muscles, limiting your weight training. Doing cardio after weights will not.
* Second, weight training will serve as a sort of pre-exhaust for cardio; lowering your blood sugar and allowing you to burn fat immediately after you start cardio. If you do cardio first, it will take about 20 minutes before you really start to burn fat
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Re: Basics of Cardio

Postby Canuck Singh » Sat Nov 01, 2008 10:36 am

Optimizing Cardio

Performing the so-called "low intensity fat-burning exercises" does not magically melt great globs of body fat away. If you cannot fully accept these physiological facts then, for the rest of your life you are in for an uphill battle with the pudge.

1. Body fat reduction can only occur from a slight decrease in total calorie intake or increase in energy expenditure, on a prolonged, highly consistent basis. Most of the time this is extremely difficult to achieve because people don't calculate either. Yes it is impossible to calculate the amount of calories you burn each and every day. Our bodies are different and while performing similar activities, our individual perception of intensity will vary greatly. Old, young, fat, trained, untrained acclimatized, unacclimatized bodies exercising/living in hot, cold, humid, environments burn different calories at different rates. Forget the charts you may see in fitness mags and on exercise machines. By not taking into consideration the above variables, you can see they would be completely inaccurate.

2. You must become very clever at easily guestimating your daily fat, protein and carbohydrate intake. It doesn't have to involve extensive mathematics. It does come from continuously educating yourself; reading food labels and packet serving sizes and, a pocket nutrition almanac is invaluable as a base reference.

3. Finally, performing aerobic work to achieve weight or body fat reduction is the most misused/misguided activity people do. Too many people keep doing the same thing week in and week out and they never produce results, yet never stop to consider they are doing something wrong!! Results from your aerobic workouts come down to one word; efficiency. The more often you perform the same activity for the same duration at the same intensity, the more efficient your body becomes. You burn less calories, period!

You must make your body as inefficient as possible at performing your aerobic work.

* First, don't perform exactly the same activity often, make each session vastly different. It is a fact when you do not perform an activity regularly, your body is not very good (efficient) at doing it, therefore expending a lot of energy in the process. Swimming is a great example, those of you that have tried it remember the first time you swam a lap, it nearly killed you! However as you persisted, you eventually swim laps like a fish. Up and down, many times easily. Many people think this conditioning effect is a good thing, from a fat burning/calorie expending view it is not! For the same distance or time frame you are getting from point A to point B easier and therefore expending less energy.

* Don't rely on too many machines for your aerobic work. Some are extremely poor in biomechanical design. They eliminate the hardest part of the movement and do the hard work for you. Some machines are excellent and they are generally the hardest to use, ie. well made cross country skiers, climbers, rowing machines etc. So most people don't like to use them.

* Don't sit on those bloody <love> electronic bikes for hours every week. Get a life! Effective exercise makes you carry your mass around with you. On a bike your mass is resting. Therefore very few calories are burned during and after the exercise and the more often you pedal the less calories you burn! Your body adapts extremely quickly to these easy exercises. Don't even try to compare it to competitive road and track cycling. It is a completely different activity. If all it took to lose large amounts of fat (energy) was performing such a sedentary exercise as sitting back, pedaling leisurely away on a recumbent cycle then the entire human race would have perished thousands of years ago from the inability to retain body fat!

* Don't stay in the gym; get outside to do your aerobic work. Outside you cannot manipulate the variables to suit yourself. You have to get over that hill, endure that head wind and cope with the conditions. These variables all contribute to making you less efficient at performing the task and therefore you expend far more calories.

* Don't do any activity that causes you any joint/back pain. Sounds simple however most injuries are accumulative and take time to manifest. That niggling knee soreness you get from jogging each time is a warning your joint is not coping with that activity. You cannot achieve what you want to achieve when injured.

The best fat burning activity is a structured protocol that varies your activities. Performing a different exercise activity every session is an excellent idea. If you wish to do 5 aerobic workouts a week, perform 5 different activities. For example, once per week you may jog, swim, climb stairs, use a Nordic cross-country skier and a good Ergo rower. All are hard activities that make you carry or constantly move your entire mass. Using this approach your physiology is constantly trying to adapt to so many different activities it doesn't stand a chance as each one is not being performed very often (once every seven days). Obviously the larger repertoire of activities you place at your disposal the less chance your body has of ever adapting and the more effective your workouts become. As your fitness (competence) does increase the degree of difficulty must be manipulated (we haven't even covered intensity levels). This also keeps your body inefficient by preventing you from repeating the same workout. The longer you have been an "aerobic junkie", the more thought you have to put into this aspect!

Why do you think weight training is so effective at recomposing your body? All its variables can be constantly manipulated to keep your body completely inefficient. Sets, reps, rest periods, poundages, exercises, exercise tempo all can and should be manipulated to produce results.

Put simply, your aerobic activity is just a fat/calorie burning tool, that needs to be planned and manipulated for effective results. There is no single, best activity. In fact your biggest mistake is assuming there is one.
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Re: Basics of Cardio

Postby Baron » Wed Jun 12, 2013 2:59 pm

Cardio exercise plan is the best for the fitness and weight management purpose.
It not only improve the heart health but also work a lot to enhance the body balance, body strength and flexibility.
For the weight loss it is most preferable because it bring long term results for the weight loss.
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Re: Basics of Cardio

Postby Kerray » Fri Feb 07, 2014 10:52 am

Hi Canuck,
Great post on the basic of cardio exercises and like to say cardio is any kind of exercise which involves aerobic exercises and help you in losing extra body weight, increasing heart strength and prevent you from obesity, hypertension, diabetes, some cancers and heart disease.
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Re: Basics of Cardio

Postby SteveAllen » Thu Feb 13, 2014 4:47 am

Thank you Canuck for sharing basics of cardio. I also like because cardio is good for strength and body fitness. I also do lot of cardio for fitness. Everyone should start doing exercise.
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