The Facts About Cardio Workouts
by Jackie Burgmann, creator of "Hot at Home" - The Transformation Solution for People Who Hate The Gym
Lately it seems to be one of the most reviled forms of working out even though it's an effective way of blasting fat. But there seems to be a lot of confusion and mystery out there surrounding cardio.
So what, exactly, IS ”cardio”?
The word cardio is a shorter way of referring to your cardiovascular system. Anything that gets your heart
rate up and gets you breathing heavier can be considered a cardio workout.
But what makes the ”best” cardio?
The 'best' cardio for YOU actually depends on who you are and your personal and specific goals.
There are so MANY forms of cardio it's easy to get confused about what would work best for you so I’ll explain a few of them here.
One of the most common forms of cardio is starting to get a bad rap: steady-state cardio, which is now being referred to by some fitness gurus as ”long, slow, boring” cardio.
This includes walking, jogging or cycling, but what makes it 'steady-state' is that you're always working at the exact same pace ... and usually for countless minutes or hours.
I can see what they mean because while doing this kind of cardio you may get the feeling of being a hamster-on-a-wheel.
And to some people this kind of cardio workout can be pretty boring.
But that doesn’t negate it as a valid and good form of cardio for many people.
If other, more intense forms of cardio are too difficult for very overweight, out of shape, or elderly people or people with a weak cardiovascular system (heart or lungs), this kind of cardio may be the only option they can manage until they can improve their fitness levels to sustain more difficult forms of cardio.
Regardless, this type of cardio burns fat.
It may take you a little longer than some other forms of cardio due to its lack of intensity, but it burns fat nonetheless.
Don't let any fitness 'guru' convince you otherwise. It does work.
And, steady-state cardio can help them build up their physical and cardiovascular fitness levels until they are able to take on the more intense forms of cardio.
Another, but more intense type of cardio is Interval Training.
Interval Training can be done with many kinds of exercise including running, cycling, biking, rowing, swimming or even walking.
This type of cardio involves going faster for a set period of time followed by going slower for a set period
For instance you could sprint for 30 seconds and then walk quickly for 60 seconds. This is a great way to burn a lot of calories in a very short period of time. You work as hard as possible during the fast interval and then let yourself recover during the slower interval so that you can work as hard as possible again during the next fast interval.
Another way to incorporate intervals into your cardio routine might be to include many hills in your endurance run or bike ride. The hills naturally provide the harder 'work' phase while the flat areas and downhills provide the 'recovery' phase.
With this type of workout, your cardiovascular system is constantly shifting speeds, which can burn fat at an accelerated rate, and cause an 'after-burn' effect where you're still burning calories at a higher rate than normal even during the remainder of your day when you're not working out, even at rest or sleeping.
Another method of getting a good cardio workout is to incorporate intensity into your strength training routines.
For example, you'd group two or three exercises together into what is called a ”SuperSet”.
A SuperSet is accomplished by working one muscle group, then another (and possibly a third) without resting in between sets.
One muscle group rests while the other muscle group works but overall you don’t stop to
rest between sets.
By the time all your sets are done for that SuperSet, you’ll definitely feel a spike in your heart rate and breathing.
You can even go one step further and group a series of five or six different exercises together into a SuperCircuit. Try to choose exercises that, combined, will give you a full body workout (ie. you will work every muscle group at least once during each circuit).
Start with the first exercise, and just keep going through all the different exercises without stopping until they're all done, rest for a very short period to recover enough to have the energy to do it again, and start over.
By the time you get through the SuperCircuit a few times you'll definitely be getting an intense and effective cardiovascular workout.
Finally, incorporating cardio into a strength training routine can also be done by doing ”Full Body Compound” exercises instead of isolation exercises.
These include exercises such as Squat Presses (a squat and a dumbbell or barbell shoulder press done at the same time) or Two Armed Swings (a variation of a squat coupled with swinging a heavy weight between your legs and up to eye level using your arms, which also works your shoulders, back and many other muscle groups).
When you are doing these types of exercises, because several muscle groups are working in tandem, your body needs to work extremely hard to move that many muscle groups at once, which gets your heart rate up substantially.
You can make your strength/cardio workout even more challenging and effective by putting your two or three favorite full body compound moves into a SuperSet (or put together five or six full body compound moves and create a SuperCircuit).
That will really jack up your heart-rate and get you burning fat and calories like crazy!
Now that you know the different ways you can work your cardiovascular system, change what you choose to do from workout to workout to keep things challenging for your body, interesting for your mind and effective for your fat burning goals.
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