Fitness Series: Cardio

We have reached the last blog post in the Fitness Series. For those who are just stumbling upon my blog,  in the past few blog posts I have covered the basics of developing a nutrition and workout plan to assist you in meeting your personal fitness goals.

This last blog post will discuss the importance of including cardio into your routine.  If you are anything like me, you probably despise cardio.  Unfortunately, cardio is one of life’s necessary evils.  Not only does it improve your heart health, it is an  important component of fat loss, next to your nutrition of course.

In order for cardio to be effective for fat loss your heart rate needs to reach and stay at 65%-85% of your Max Heart Rate. You can use the heart rate sensors that are usually built in to the cardio equipment at a gym or you can choose to buy your own heart rate monitor to gage this. I bought mine off of amazon for about $70.  The difference between the two is that a personal is  more accurate.

Anywho, to calculate your Max Heart Rate you can use the following formula:  

Max Heart Rate:

208 – (0.7 x age in years)

Once you have determined your max heart rate you want to take that number and multiply it by any number between .65 and .85,  this will give you your target heart rate for fat loss.

The most common time frame for cardio is anywhere from 30-45 minutes.  Scientifically the reason for this is that,  the first 20 minutes your body is using carbohydrates for fuel, after the 20 minute mark, it begins to use primarily fat.

It is recommended that at a minimum,  you perform cardio 3x a week.   Personally I aim for 5, but if you are a beginner please do begin by adding in a couple of sessions each week.

The method of cardio I described above is not the only way to achieve fat loss.  Studies have shown that using high intensisity interval training (HIIT) is also very effective at burning fat.  To perform HIIT during your cardio session is simple, just use your target heart rate as your interval levels.

For example, for 2 minutes you can perform what every type of cardio you choose (stepmill, arc trainer, elliptical, treadmill, jump roping) at 65% your max heart rate and for 2 minutes you can perform the cardio at 85%.  You would then repeat this 5x for a total of 20 minutes.   The plus side of HIIT is 20 minutes alone will suffice.

Another way is to use seconds.  As an example, when I use the treadmill, I will sprint for 30 seconds and rest for 30 seconds and repeat until I have reached a total of 30 minutes.  If you are on the elliptical you could change the resistance every few mintues.  The key really is to give it your all for an allotted period of time and then return to a more moderate pace.

Again, is an excellent resource for HIIT training routines.   I would also highly recommend it as a supplement to all the information I provided in this series.

I hope you learned a lot and that this served as a great starting point. I wish you all the best in your fitness journey.  Please feel free to leave me comments on what you took away from this series and how you plan on incorporating my tips.  I am also open to suggestions for future blog posts.

Disclaimer: I am not a certified trainer or nutritionist. Please check with your doctor prior to starting any diet or exercise plan.  The information provided above is what I have learned via personal research.



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