Sunday, December 6, 2009

"What is the BEST way to do cardio?"

We get this question often: Which method of cardiovascular training is most superior for effective body fat reduction?
Is it jogging?

The elliptical?


The Answer: It's not the type of training that will make a difference... It is how it's performed!

Cardiovascular Defined
First, let us get straight what cardiovascular training really is: It is rhythmic, repetitive, and involves large muscles of the body moving through a big range of motion. This rules out repeated sets of bicep curls or heel raises for cardio exercise, but includes exercises that involve big, broad movements such as the elliptical or crossramp machines, walking, jogging, running, cycling, stair climbing, kicking, jumping jacks, stepping, or major movements of the arms and shoulders, such as rowing or boxing.

Desired Intensity
For those in good health without history of coronary intervention, heart or lung disease, stroke, poor circulation, or similar issues, it is generally best to train the cardiovascular system with a heart rate at 55-80% of its estimated maximum. This means that if your estimated maximal heart rate is 200 beats per minute, then you should probably find your most effective fat loss results at a training heart rate of 110-160 beats per minute. To safely estimate your maximum heart rate, please consult a Perfect Personal Trainer. This value will change over time, and should be re-estimated regularly so you are not undertraining or overtraining your aerobic system.

Which Form Is For You?
Choose cardiovascular exercises that you will find enjoyable, and feel free to go from one to another if you find yourself getting bored or having difficulty keeping your heart rate in the range described above. Also avoid cardiovascular exercises that rely on any of your joints that have caused you trouble. For example, if you have experienced hip or knee or ankle trouble, then you might be safer performing cardiovascular training that uses the upper body as opposed to the lower body. (It is generally best to consult a physician, however, if you have experienced any prolonged joint discomfort at all.)

Duration & Frequency
Now that we have defined what cardiovascular training is and an appropriate intensity, let's discuss the desired duration and frequency. After roughly twenty minutes, your body is more likely to start burning a higher percentage of fat than it did in the first twenty minutes. This percentage is scientifically shown to increase even more significantly as you draw closer to an hour of steady cardiovascular training. And, how often should this be performed? For general health, studies show that just two days per week can be somewhat beneficial, but that five days per week are more ideal for a longer life, reduced incidence of disease, and sustained fat loss.

Other Considerations
Weight-bearing cardiovascular training, such as jogging, can be either therapeutic or damaging to joints that are already unhealthy or strained. Consult a Perfect Personal Trainer to assess your medical history and risk factors. If you are currently sedentary, then you should always consult a physician and a qualified fitness professional before beginning an exercise regimen of any kind.

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