Part 2: Run faster and jump higher: Cardiovascular Fitness
If you’re just joining us, Part 1 starts here.
People do cardiovascular exercise to lose weight and build endurance. Weight is all about the amount of calories to eat versus the amount you burn during the day. If you burn more than you eat, you’ll lose weight. There’s about 3500 calories in one pound.
The idea is that you work out for upwards of thirty minutes, and since you are active it help burns calories. Your body gets used to the increased heart rate and you’ll tire slower while being active, building endurance.
If you are focusing on endurance, it’s better to do sets of exercise that will push your anaerobic threshold. For example, Rowing 4-6 sets of 5 minutes, with 2-3 minutes rest in between, or doing ten minute sets.
For burning calories, its best to focus on ‘steady state’ cardio, by doing an exercise at a pace you can hold for 30-45 minutes.
Oh, and don’t forget to stretch the muscles you used afterward. Some people like doing a warm up and then stretching too. I’m not going to go over every stretch, but find a few geared toward the exercise you plan to do. It’s probably no surprise that lower body stretches are important for cardio exercises.
I’ve tried a few cardio exercises: running, biking, elliptical, and rowing, as ways to build endurance and burn calories. My favorite so far is rowing. I’m not saying I don’t run around at the beach, or enjoy a good bike ride. But in my mind it’s the best cardio exercise if you’re an average person trying to lose weight and build endurance. It’s a high intensity, low impact full body workout. I really don’t see a downside, except that many people won’t have access to a boat to go row in. If you’re running around a track though, you may as well row on an ergometer.
Rowing may not be for everyone. Elliptical machines are also good. You really have to do a exercise you enjoy to be successful. Find something you like, learn the correct technique, and put together a gym schedule.
The key thing with cardio is to keep yourself from getting bored. If you always go to the gym for 30 minutes on the elliptical, then leave, that can get a little tedious. Try different exercises, different intervals, or change the pace. One day, pick an aggressive pace and see how long you can keep it up. Your body recovers quickly after short bursts like that, so you can rest a bit and then do your usual pace for awhile afterwards.
You can even integrate this sprint/steady pace interval into your workout by doing HIIT workouts. HIIT stands for High intensity interval training, and is more taxing, so people who’ve been doing cardio for a while may want to try it sometimes to challenge themselves.
Cardio takes time, and as with any workout, consistency is vital.