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What is the deal with cardio?

Today I’m going to talk about all about cardio:  what it is, why it’s important, and how to tell if you’re doing it right to get the absolute maximum results no matter what your goals!

What is cardio?

Cardio (short for “cardiovascular training”) is a form of aerobic exercise (as opposed to anaerobic,) and includes both “steady-state” activities – think running, biking or swimming at a steady pace – and high-intensity activity like HIIT training or Tabata workouts.

Aerobic exercise elevates your heart rate which forces you to take deeper breaths. As this happens, your heart pumps oxygenated blood through your system, delivering that oxygen to the muscles, tissues, and organs in your body.

Anaerobic exercise is an activity where your lungs don’t continually take in additional oxygen, like when you strength train.

Why is cardio so important?

The benefits of cardio are huge. To name just a FEW, cardio:

  • It promotes fat loss,
  • It strengthens both your lungs and heart,
  • It decreases the risk of chronic ailments like diabetes and heart disease,
  • It improves your body’s metabolism,
  • It increases bone density,
  • It elevates your mood, and
  • It gives you that special glow that comes from taking care of yourself – inside and out!

Cardio is an important and indispensable way to look, feel and live your best.

But cardio doesn’t work alone!

To get the muscle-sculpting, fat-burning results we want, we need to blend cardio with some kind of strength training, and we need to take a closer look at our diet.

You could do cardio all day long, but if you’re not eating right, you’re simply not going to see the outcomes you’re busting your butt trying to achieve.

To get your body in peak physique, you must eat meals with macronutrients tailored to your goals.

 

Calculating Your Target Heart Rate Zone

So we talked about how cardio gets your heart pumping oxygenated blood through your system, but exactly how fast does that blood need to be pumping to give you the optimal benefits? Turns out, it’s different for each of us.

Based on the simple calculation below, we each have an optimal level – or “sweet spot” – of cardio that puts us in our target heart rate zone.

If your heart rate falls under the low end of your zone, you’re probably not pushing yourself hard enough when you work out, which means you might be missing out on all of the amazing benefits that cardio has to offer.

But pushing yourself too hard isn’t the answer, either!

Exercise overexertion leads to burnout and injury, and we definitely don’t want that! So how exactly do you determine where your heart rate should be?

First, calculate your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) using your age. The formula is simple:

220 – your age = your Maximum Heart Rate

Next, calculate your heart rate zone (which is between 50-85% of your MHR.)

Here’s how:

Your MHR x 50% = Low Range of your Zone
Your MHR x 85% = High Range of your Zone

 

sporty people practicing with weights

Give HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) a go!

HIIT workouts switch between short bursts of intense activity and slower, “recovery” periods of less intense activity.

They also…

  • Burn fat faster.
  • Save time.
  • Are simple to execute with no equipment.
  • Cause less stress on your joints.
  • Trigger an ‘after burn’ effect, helping you destroy fat long after you’ve finished working out.
  • Make you more fit.
  • Limit muscle loss.