Cardio is important for both weight loss and good cardiovascular health. Some body builders forget the importance of cardio, because they don't want to lose muscle mass as a result. Unless you are an ectomorph, part of your exercise regime should focus on aerobics. Contrary to what some people believe, cardio will not reduce you're muscle mass, and it will help you build up endurance and gain more definition.
Below is a list of reasons why you should keep up to date with your cardio workouts.
Prevention of disease, such as obesity and heart attack
Good mental health (studies show that people who exercise more are less likely to be depressed)
Shed off that layer of unwanted fat to show off the body you worked so hard for
Lowers blood pressure and resting heart rate
Increases blood flow to your muscles, which results in more nutrients being delivered to them
Increases endurance, which might help you lift heavier for longer time periods
When you are doing cardio, there are a few things that you should remember, they are duration, intensity and frequency.
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. However, 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 strain yourself, especially if you are a beginner. If you feel weak 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 you're goal is to add mass you should be doing only about 20-30 minutes a time or else you will burn too many calories.
Sample workout for a beginner
2 minutes warm up (ex. light walking)
6 minutes higher intensity activity (ex. brisk walking, light jog etc)
2 minutes cool down (ex. light walking or stretching)
Sample workout for intermediate
5 minutes warm up
20-35 minutes high intensity cardio
5 minutes cool down
Sample workout for advanced
10 mins warm up
40 mins high intensity cardio
10 mins cool down
Cardio Fitness Continued
Intensity means how hard you are working during your activities. This is a key component for optimal health and fat loss. Beginners should aim for a target heart rate of lower that 55% of their maximum heart rates, 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 usually has 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, and easy way to see how hard you are working is to see how well you can talk.
If you can sing without difficulty, you arenít working hard enough
If you can talk without much difficulty, you arenít working very hard
If you can talk with a little difficulty, you are working at an average
If you can't talk at all, you might be working too hard
Take a look at these guidelines, and judge for yourself what a good pace is for you.
Unless you are an ectomorph, you should be generally performing cardio 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 you're cardio fitness 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 (don't forget to warm up!). This type of workout is great for preventing the boredom that can come with steady state cardio and boosts fat lose. Interval training is also good for improving you're 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.
Interval training vs. steady state cardio
Interval training - Pro's
burns a lot of fat
takes less time
burns less muscle tissue
Steady state cardio - Pro's
Little impact on joints
It is not as easy to "burn out" - so you will end up burning more calories
An ideal workout routine will consist of both of these types of cardio, as they both have their own benefits. I would recommend doing interval training one day and steady state the next.
Sample week of cardio workouts
Steady state cardio 40 minutes stationary bike
Interval training 20 minutes treadmill
Steady state cardio 30 minutes swimming
Interval training 20 minutes ecliptical trainer
Steady state cardio 60 minutes rollerblading
This is just an example to show you how you can vary your workouts. Remember to keep them fun and change them up weekly so that your body never gets used to a certain workout, and you don't get bored!
Tyler King writes about various health topics and helps run http://www.online-health-source.info
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