The 4th Secret in our 7 part series – “7 Secrets To A New Body” is the secret of cardio training. Before you begin your cardio training it’s important to build a foundation. If you have been doing nothing at all for the past several months then you will want to start gradually and build up by establishing goal points to reach before moving onto the next stage.
As an example, someone just starting out would do well to begin by walking for 20 minutes a day 3 times a week. Once you complete this goal for 3 weeks straight, you will move to your next goal of walking for 30 minutes a day 3 times a week. Your next goal might be adding in a 4th day of the week. So on and so forth until maybe your ultimate goal was to walk for 45 minutes 4 days a week. Once you reach that goal you can continue to challenge yourself by increasing speed, increasing the incline or changing the distance.
Once you have established a solid base of cardio for a consistent 8-12 weeks (meaning that you are doing cardio at least 30 minutes a day 4-5 times a week) it’s time to start varying your program by adding in a variety of workouts to keep boredom from setting in and to keep your body burning an efficient amount of calories. This is accomplished through a varied weekly program and performing interval training at least 1 day a week.
1. Varied Weekly Program: If you are doing cardio 4 days a week you will want to make sure that one of those days is a long day. Meaning that you go longer than you are used to. Instead of 40 minutes you might go for 50 or 60 minutes but at a slower pace than you are used to. This one extra long day in your program can make a huge difference and take you out of a plateau or hump. Another day will be interval training.
Interval training will push your cardiovascular system and help to get you moving faster. It should be your hardest day in the sense that you will feel you are working at your hardest level but it is also a shorter day so you might only go for 30 minutes. The remaining 2 days will be a moderate pace similar to what you had been performing previously such as 40 minutes of steady state walking. This program will give your body the variety it needs to improve in it’s fitness level and keep calorie burning to a maximum level.
2. Interval training: Here’s how to perform your interval training. Start by warming up for a ½ mile to a mile. Next you will increase your pace from the usual pace you perform on steady state days. For example, you might do a light jog instead of walk. You would hold this for 2-3 minutes and then recover by walking for 2-3 minutes. You would perform this sequence about 4 or 5 more times and then cool down for a ½ mile to a mile. This is just one example, there are many ways that interval training can be performed depending on how technical one wants to get, their goals and fitness level. But the name of the game is to push your comfort zone and challenge yourself by picking up the pace a little and sweating a little more than you might be used to.
Some Notes On Cardio Training:
Don’t Set Conflicting Goals: It’s important to set short term and long term goals. For example, your short term goal might be to walk 4 days a week for 30 minutes and your long term goal might be to run a 5k. Those 2 goals make sense and one is just a bigger version of the other. Whatever goal you choose is fine but just make sure that they aren’t conflicting. You wouldn’t want to set a goal to run a marathon and a goal to compete in a fitness competition within the same time frame. Training for a marathon and training for a fitness competition are completely different things and you will be working against yourself. Training for a fitness competition would require building lots of muscle mass but training for a marathon tends to break down muscle mass – just look at the two different body types and you can see right away that this would be a conflicting goal.
Tennis is not cardio: In tennis you run and stop, run and stop. That is not to say that tennis is not a good exercise or that it’s not good for you but it shouldn’t count as your daily dose of cardio. Cardio training by definition is 20 or more continuous minutes of exercise.
Machines that Burn the Most Calories: I always recommend getting outside and using the natural terrain to get a great workout in. Plus, the added benefits you get from being outdoors in the fresh air and sunlight (vitamin d3) are unbeatable. However, when you need to use machines, the treadmill wins hands down. Another good machine particularly if you have knee problems is the elliptical. Excellent calorie burners are the versa climber and mill stepper – you don’t see these machines as abundantly in gyms but they give a fantastic workout. The bike tends to be least effective in terms of calorie burning because it is non weight bearing.
Heart Rate: If you don’t have a heart rate monitor and you want to get a general idea of your hear rate zone here is what to do: Take 220 and subtract it from your age. Then multiply that number by .70. The number you get is a general number for 70% of your maximum heart rate. If you want to know 60% of your maximum heart rate then just multiple by .60. You should aim to stay at about 70% of your maximum hear rate but this also depends on how long/far you are going.
Eat Enough Protein: Make sure that you are eating a moderate amount of calories, a nutrient dense diet and enough Branched Chained Amino Acids (BCAA’s) to repair any damage from cardio training.