First let me say that I am not one of those religious cardio bunnies you see sweating their life away for an hour on the treadmill. Unless you’re main goal is to shred tons of fat, and even then it’s questionable, I don’t feel like steady state cardio is as much of a necessity as weight lifting; but everyone is different. However, I do believe that various types of cardio or cardiovascular training are extremely important about 5 days a week. Cardio keeps your heart strong and healthy and also keeps your body fat down.
Below is a list of five different types of cardio and what they can do for your body!
- Steady State Training
- Involves training at the same workload OR the same speed & level for an extended period of time ranging from about 20 minutes to 60 minutes.
- Steady state cardio is constant; there are no moments of rest.
- Steady state cardio will burn fat AND muscle. Those of you more focused on building muscle might want to avoid steady state training.
- An example would be jogging at speed level 7 for 30 minutes on a treadmill or using the Stairmaster at level 4 for 30 minutes.
- This type of cardio training is great for all fitness levels especially beginners.
- HIIT: High Intensity Interval training (my favorite!)
- HIIT requires you to train at a high level for a short period of time followed by a relaxed recovery period.
- The switch from a higher intensity to a lower intensity really heats things up and confuses the body.
- This type of training is great for all fitness levels.
- For those of you who are focused on burning fat without eating away at the muscle you have worked so hard to build, I would recommend utilizing HIIT. It allows the body to burn fat while holding on to muscle.
- An example would be training on theStairmaster beginning at level 4 for the first 4 minutes. Bump it up 2 levels to level 6 for 2 minutes. Bump it up 2 more levels to level 8 for 2 minutes then bump it up to level 9 for the last-minute. Repeat this process 1 – 2 more times to complete the training sequence.
- You can adjust levels/speeds to your fitness level. Beginners may start at level 3 instead of 4.
- Fartlek Training – My brother introduced me to this type of cardio training after he received his PT certification.
- Fartlek training is very similar to HIIT.
- Traditional Fartlek training is unstructured and is performed by surging from one landmark to another.
- It can also be structured. What I mean by that is you can train by determining what speed and time to perform at; basically creating a routine.
- This type of training is very demanding, therefore is recommended for people who are experienced with running and fitness.
- For more information on Fartlek training and sample Fartlek training workouts click the link below.
- Circuit Training or Super Circuit Training
- Traditional circuit training involves rotating through pre-determined exercises for a certain amount of time or rounds.
- Super Circuit Training is aerobic training that involves a combination of anaerobic exercises like resistance training with short periods of cardio.
- An example of this would be to perform 3 minutes on the treadmill followed by 1 minute of squats then immediately performing 3 minutes on the elliptical followed by 1 minute of leg presses, so on and so forth.
- This type of training is perfect for those of you trying to squeeze maximum training into a short period of time.
- Super Circuit training is also great for those of you competing in anesthetic competitions like body building. It allows you to burn the fat without wasting precious muscle mass.
- Cross Training
- When I do decide to train cardio, I am a huge fan of cross training. I get bored easily so I like to switch it up to keep my motivation high.
- Cross training is simply switching from different cardio machines remaining on one machine for a certain amount of time and then switching to another for a certain amount of time.
- An example of this type of training would be performing 10 minutes on the treadmill, switch to 10 minutes on the arc trainer, and then 10 minutes on the stationary bike.
- You can also choose to switch machines each day: stationary bike one day, treadmill the next day, etc.
Frequency, Duration, & Intensity
- 3 – 5 sessions a week is recommended
- 20 – 60 minute sessions
- 55% – 90% of your max heart rate
These numbers can change. We aren’t robots therefore we are not all the same and do not require the same times, intensities, and frequencies. Consult with your doctor or personal trainer to determine what your body needs.
Not one type of cardio is better than the other though each one yields very different results. When determining which type of cardio training is best for you I recommend utilizing one that you enjoy doing. If you don’t enjoy cardio at all HIIT or Super Circuit Training might be right up your ally. If you are a book-worm and don’t mind reading while doing steady state cardio then by all means give it a whirl!
You need to find the type of physical activity you enjoy doing to keep your body and mind as healthy as possible. If you don’t enjoy it, do you think you’ll be motivated to do it 3 – 5 times a week? My guess is probably not; I wouldn’t.
Be healthy. Be happy.