The 4 Main Rules of Cardio Training


Novices often wonder what’s the best way to approach cardio training, to obtain the maximum results from it in terms of fitness improvement, weight loss and total health gains. And the preconceived notions they adhere to usually deprive them of true gains, making their efforts nothing more than a waste of time, a source of disappointments and the reason why they quit working out after not seeing results. Well, fear not, if you understand and FOLLOW these 4 rules, you will see the gains you seek.

Right Exercise: It seems like when we talk cardio, we are referring to exercises like running, climbing, cycling, and swimming, but what really makes them the right choice for cardio? Well, these are activities that involve large muscle groups that generate a lot of energy and require big amounts of blood circulation. These muscles produce what we call “the venous return” where they squeeze the vast number of veins within them sending more blood back to the heart and forcing it to work harder and more efficiently. Also, these activities involve a Continuous, rhythmic motion, which keeps both the venous return and the effort level at a steady pace. So, look for these exercises when doing cardio. Activities like rowing, swimming and cross-country skiing, which use muscle groups in both the upper and lower body are best, followed closely by those who use the majority of the muscles in the lower body, like running, stair climbing or cardio kickboxing. The less muscles are used, and the less those muscles are used, like in jogging or walking, the less benefits we’ll see.

Proper Intensity: This is the most important thing to understand when it comes to cardio training, follow it and you will progress, ignore it and you wont, it is as simple as that, has always been and will always be. What does this mean? Easy, it’s all about the Heart Rate (HR), and what that means is, how many Beats Per Minute (BPM) does your hear take while working out.
The higher the BPM, the harder you’re working, however, you might be working too hard instead of too little. There’s a target HR for every workout, based on your condition and your goals. To learn exactly what your HR Target should be, go the article “Understanding your Heart Rate Goals” for more specific information, but for now, you need to understand that all those people that walk or jog for 45-60 minutes at very low HR are not accomplishing anything, except fooling themselves, which many seem quite content to do, sadly.

Duration: Very important. Cardiovascular activity requires a minimum time to yield any effects. Anything less than 10 minutes is a waste of time, but the minimum that most trainers recommend is 20 minutes, which is a short amount of time to dedicate to one’s health, and if the principles of Right Exercise and Proper Intensity are properly followed, then it should be enough time to make a difference. While it is important to never go below the minimum, it is as important to increase the workout time on a careful, gradual basis. Go for too long and you risk injury, exhaustion, over training and loosing motivation. We’ll talk about what your time goals should be in another article, but for beginners, 20-30 minutes should be a great starting point, and then 30-45 minutes should be the next step after we’ve improved enough. Longer than 45 minutes workouts require a well trained body and conscientious planning, so let’s leave that for another article.

Frequency: Now that we know what to do, how to do it and for how long, let’s go to the next point: how often should we do it? Exercising once a week, even if we follow the above 3 rules, will not yield any progress, so the Frequency of our workouts is fundamental if we want to increase our metabolic rate and keep it there. We should do cardio a minimum of 3 times a week, and I recommend starting every other day, one day cardio, one day rest, and so on. Then, as we get better, we can move up to 2+1, 2 days of cardio and 1 day of rest, and this is actually a very good frequency which does not need to be increased. Once you’re comfortably at the 2+1 frequency stage, what you can do is increase the duration of the workouts. Doing cardio everyday may appear an attractive proposition, but as you get better and your workouts get more intense, putting in days of rest is mandatory, or you’ll be risking injuries and over training.

And that’s it, understanding, and following, the 4 main rules of cardiovascular training are the most important thing you can do to make your workouts count. Enjoy!

8 Responses to “The 4 Main Rules of Cardio Training”

  1. Cardio workouts help me attain a healthy weight. I was having a big tummy last year and cardio really helped flattened my belly.

  2. Everyday i would do at least an hour of Cardio workout and this routine alone helped me regain my lean body. Cardio is really good for burning down the extra fats you get on your tummy.

  3. Grace Brown says:

    Cardio Workout is really great when you want to burnout those calories’`,

  4. healthy weight may not be achieved easily if you are very lazy to exercise;~~

  5. the best stuff that you can do to reduce body fast is of course a cardio workout .

  6. maintaining a healthy weight can be tricky because it revolves around genetics and some other factors :`;

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  8. Milly Flever says:

    Very nice blog! You did make some interesting points I had not thought about, on weight loss. Thank you!