By Susan Chiang
There are some key factors to consider when exercising, to achieve maximum results. These factors include; the duration of each exercise, the intensity, the frequency you work out, and whether or not you use interval training. This article will examine each one of these aspects to help you achieve the maximum benefit from your cardio workouts.
Cardio is important for both weight loss and good cardiovascular health. Some body builders forget the importance of cardio, because they do not want to lose muscle mass as a result. It is important that part of your exercise regime focuses on aerobics.
Contrary to what some people believe, cardio will not reduce your muscle mass. It will help you build up endurance and gain more definition in your physique. Below is a list of reasons why you should keep up to date with your cardio workouts.
- Lowers blood pressure and resting heart rate
- Burns calories
- Helps prevent disease, such as heart attacks and obesity
- Increases endurance
- Good mental health
- Sheds off that layer of unwanted fat
- Increases blood flow to your muscles, which results in more nutrients being delivered to them
Intensity means how hard you are working during your activities. Intensity is a key component for optimal health and fat loss. Beginners should target a heart rate of lower that 55% of their maximum heart rate, while intermediate and advanced people should aim for about 65-90%. Your maximum heart rate level is approximately 220 minus your age, but of course this may vary depending on your fitness level.
Gym equipment and fitness equipment usually have hand censors that will tell you what your heart rate is at, so that you can maintain a good level of intensity throughout your workout. If you find these censors annoying to hold or you are outside, an easy way to see how hard you are working is to see how well you can talk. If you can sing during your work out, you are most definitely slacking. If you can barely talk, you are probably working too hard. The idea is to be able to barely be able to talk.
Duration is how long you do a continuous aerobic activity in one session. Ideally, you should be training between 20 and 60 minutes per session. If you are a beginner, you may start by doing shorter workouts, of about 10 minutes at a time. Once you become stronger and more comfortable, you should start to increase how long you are exercising for.
You should NEVER, EVER strain yourself, especially if you are a freshie. If you feel weak, sick or dizzy, slow down or stop, and of course, consult a physician if you have any health problems before you begin. Note that although cardio will not promote muscle loss, if your goal is to add mass you should only be doing about 20-30 minutes a time or else you will burn too many calories.
You should be generally performing cardio work outs 3-5 times per week, unless you have a lot of fat to loose you can go for 5-7 times per week. You should never space your cardio sessions out for more than 48 hours because your body start to loose the positive effects of the previous workout.
Interval training is a cardio workout that will take less time than a regular cardio workout and burn more calories. This type of workout is very effective and you will only need to do it for 15 - 20 minutes at a time. An example of interval training is to run for 3 minutes and walk briskly for 2 minutes. You continue this cycle until your workout is complete (do not forget to warm up!). This type of workout is great for preventing the boredom that can come with steady state cardio and boosts fat loss.
Interval training is also good for improving your cardiovascular abilities and preventing the muscle loss that can come with regular cardio. Remember that you should always be changing the duration of how long you are running and walking to keep your body guessing. This type of cardio can be done on virtually any cardio machine, and also outdoors.