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A Guide to Cardiovascular Exercise

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Cardio Training

Cardio workouts are indicative to an effective training program and general good health. By definition, cardio workouts can be any exercise; jogging, running, biking, swimming, elliptical machine, stairs, even jumping rope; that raises and maintains your heart rate over a predetermined amount of time. By doing so, you strengthen your heart and lungs and lower your resting heart rate. Cardio workouts burn fat. And cardio fitness is what gives you endurance and the ability to persist in sports and in life.

Benefits of Cardio training

· Improves cardiovascular condition

· Decreases risk of heart disease

· Lowers blood pressure

· Increases HDL or "good" cholesterol

· Helps to better control blood sugar

· Weight management and / or weight loss

Improves lung function

· Decreases resting heart rate

Examples of aerobic exercise are:

Swimming, Running, Cycling, Jumping rope, Elliptical trainer, Walking, Rowing Running.

How often and for how long should you do cardio?

You should reach a "minimum" of 20 minutes of some form of cardiovascular exercise at least 3 days per week on alternate days in between your weight training days. You can choose to do a little more than 20 minutes if you're really breaking a sweat however you should not exceed more than 40 minutes per session.

Explanation of intensity levels

The intensity is determined by how hard you are working. The intensity of the exercise is determined by what limits you have, and your current fitness level.

For this challenge you are going to vary your intensity level and heart rate throughout each cardio session. The intensity you set is completely up to your own ability and fitness level however it is important to hit your high points and maintain them for at least one or two minutes.

Some tips and tricks to keep you on track.

1. Keep it short most of the time – I'm talking under 40 minutes short. The maximum amount of pure cardio I allow my clients to perform on a regular basis is 30 minutes of interval work. An ideal breakdown for this is 120 seconds of intensity followed by 300 seconds of recovery. Repeat a few times. I'd recommend doing this no more than 3 times a week, and only as a supplement to your weight training program.

2. Keep it shorter – as you start to focus increasingly on ideal nutrition and weight training you'll slowly be able to let go of the 'need' to do cardio. That guilty itch may never go away – sometimes

3. Mix it up. Outdoor activities such as hill climbing, hiking, playing sports, and even some indoor activities such as well-programmed kickboxing or muay thai are all great forms of 'real' cardio. By real I mean that while they may certainly go for over 20-30 minutes, they involve movement variety and can be considered (IMO) more natural than repetitive steady-state cardio on gym equipment. Using gym cardio equipment, by the way, has been shown in Canada-based research to increase insulin resistance by up to 46%! Due to the dirty electricity.

4. Break the rules once in a while. Yes, even my rules! Going for a massive ride, or run, or walk. Especially if you love to do it, but even just to give your body a change now and then. My point with all of my posts on cardio is large that people take it too far thinking the answer is 40+ minutes of endurance cardio every time they workout. I do not mean you should be scared of or avoid ever doing this style. If you love to do spin, by all means do it once in a while, but do not do it 4-5 times per week because you think it will get you lean.