Effective cardiovascular training is a crucial factor in many fitness related goals including athletic goals, weight loss and general health. In this article, I would like to add to your knowledge and understanding of cardio training so you can design a program that leads you to your goals.
When I was just starting out in fitness, I was certain that I could achieve all my goals by running an hour (or more) every day. I figured the more cardio I did (no matter what the type), it would make me a better volleyball player, help me lose the weight I wanted to, and get me in great shape, since I had so much endurance. I was wrong! While I did develop a lot of endurance, I still struggled to be as fast as I wanted during volleyball matches, reacted a little slower than I hoped and had trouble staying at the weight I wanted. In other words, I was in good health and decent shape but the results I was after stayed just out of my reach.
It wasn’t until I learned to apply the simple tips I’m about to describe that I finally the results I wanted. In order to get the most benefit from cardio training, I recommend making continual adjustments and tweaks to three variables:
- Duration: Length of time spent for each individual cardio session
- Intensity: Level of difficulty achieved during each cardio session
- Variance: Varying the type of cardio performed each session
Adaptive response to exercise:
The body’s response to the demand placed upon it during an exercise session
Obviously the length of your cardio training sessions has an impact on total calories burned, cardiovascular endurance and cardiovascular health. While basic recommendations from ACSM and AHA are to do moderately intense cardio 30 minutes a day, five days a week, or to do vigorously intense cardio 20 minutes a day, three days a week, for healthy adults under the age of 65, it’s also important that your cardio training correlates with your personal fitness goals whether they involve weight control, fat loss or are more performance oriented.
For example, if your goal is weight loss, you may want to increase your cardio from 20 minutes three times a week to 30 minutes five times a week; this would allow you to burn more total calories each week. Or, if your goal is to become a better basketball player, you may want to train for speed two times per week and train for endurance two times per week.
As I said before, you should also consider intensity and variance when designing an effective cardio training plan. In my next post, I will detail three different types of intensity training that you can incorporate into your plan, I’ll describe what I mean by the word variance and how you can use it to get better and more individualized fitness results, and I will give you an example of how I helped one client go from struggling to walk uphill three minutes on a treadmill to finishing her first marathon.
The points I’ve listed here are the basic principles I use when designing training programs for my clients. By using the combined information from this and next weeks post not only will you get better results, your routine will become more fun and interesting.