In our daily routine cardio training represents a form of stress for our heart and blood vessels which benefits us in many ways.

This type of training not only helps us control our body weight it also limits the chances of gaining many serious conditions. In this article, we will tell you what is the best way to do cardio workouts but first let us tell you a bit more about cardio.

Cardio Training And Health

The cardiovascular system contains the heart and blood vessels. Through this system, blood flows through the entire body providing all the organs and tissue with nutrients. Heart conditions are the most common cause of death worldwide.

They manifest in many ways like arteriosclerosis, angina, arrhythmia, high blood pressure, and heart attacks. Cold hands and feet are also manifestations of bad circulation.

Bad habits are the main cause of the development of heart conditions like a diet rich in fat and poor in fibre, lack of exercise, overweight and smoking. Other risks are stress, high levels of homocysteine that happens as a result of lack of vitamin B, high levels of cholesterol…

Many of those problems can be eliminated or at least controlled through a way of life. Regular workouts benefit you enormously regarding your health and also help you with regulating your body weight. Health studies show that inactivity increases the risk of overweight and many chronical conditions. 

On the other hand, studies show that regular physical activity

  • Prolongs your life
  • Improves the quality of life
  • Diminishes the risk of heart conditions
  • Helps with regulating blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Helps to prevent or control diabetes type 2
  • Helps to prevent the development of certain types of cancer
  • Diminishes the risk of arthritis and related symptoms
  • Helps to prevent osteoporosis
  • Improves mobility and strength in old age
  • Helps to reduce and to maintain body weight

Cardio Training And Fat Burn

Cardio is very important for everyone. Since most people do not care about their health until it is seriously endangered, the story about how it is important to use a cardio machine at least three times a week and sweat on it will not mean much.

But maybe you will be interested in how to fit into the jeans you bought last summer which are now too tight. Luckily, cardio training can help you lose weight (otherwise no one would ever use cardio machines).

It is not as simple as it sounds though! Remember how many times you witnessed someone training hard for months on a treadmill and not losing a single pound.

Proper diet is the main factor but also a big part of the problem is cardio or better said the way the training is done.

When you mention cardio most people think about aerobics classes. As a matter of fact, cardio is any activity that raises the heart rate to 60-85% of its regular speed.

Training such as walking or riding a stationary bike is a good way to speed up the process of burning fat as long as you do not overdo it and combine it with a good program of weight lifting. It should never be used as a substitute for weight lifting since it does not speed up your metabolism permanently and it does not help to change the shape of your body.

In order for cardio training to be efficient, you need to do it in the zone of a certain intensity in which your body burns fat. Your pulse ( number of heartbeats in a minute) determines this zone.

First, it is necessary to determine the top and bottom values of the targeted heart rate zone ( THR ).

The bottom value is 60% of your MHR. The top value is 85% of your MHR. The formula for the fat burn zone is 220 minus your age multiplied with 0.6 for the bottom value and 0.85 for the top borderline value.

The result will give you the approximate heart rate per minute you should have depending on what kind of training you decided on, high-level intensity or low-level intensity.

When And How Often?

One more important thing that should be pointed out is that in order for cardio to be efficient you should do it at a certain time.

There are only two good times of day when cardio is efficient for burning fat. First is in the morning before breakfast after you have drunk 0,5l to 0,7 l of water to prevent dehydration.

When you do cardio at this time you burn 300% more body fat than any other part of the day because your body does not have any piled up carbs in the system to burn so it has to go directly to fat to get the energy to do the activity.

The second best time for cardio is right after weight training when you already burnt piled up carbs.

This said it is not efficient doing cardio at any other time of day since you need to do it for 20-30 minutes just to go to the point where your body will start burning fat and continue doing it another 20 minutes just to burn it. That would be all in total 50 minutes and will put you at risk to lose the muscle mass.

How often you should do it depends on how fit you are and your daily schedule. Women need to do cardio more often considering the high level of estrogen and the fact that they have a lot less muscle mass than men.

How To Burn Fat Instead of Carbs And Proteins

Energy for exercising or any other physical activity comes from two primary sources carbs and fat.

Protein can be used as well but in general, in any period of workout less than 60 minutes you burn very little protein. This could be enhanced if the amount of carbs you consume is very low.

During the workout, your body usually uses four fuel sources ( two from carbs and two from fat ). How the muscle determines the mixture of its fuel and its source depends on:

  • Intensity and duration of the workout
  • The muscle that you are targeting
  • Diet
  • The interval between the last meal before workout and workout

In addition to the workout itself, there is a period of rest between repetitions when you also burn calories even tho you are resting.

Exercising stimulates hormonal changes that affect the selection of the fuel your body uses during any physical activity. By sticking to your workout program you will burn more fat and calories even when you are resting!

High or Low-Intensity Training?

Cardio training of low intensity is very different from cardio training of high intensity. In order to understand the difference, you need to know a few things.

The decomposition of fat in your body is called lipolysis. The enzyme responsible for lipolysis is called lipase, it turns fat into three, free fatty acids(FFA) and one molecule of glycerine. This process is partially caused by cardio training.

Mobilization is the decomposition of fat into glycerine and FFA for energy so you can see it as a process of decomposition of fat for some later use. Oxidation is a moment when mobilized fats actually burn.

Higher Intensity = Lower FFA

Studies show that as the intensity of the training raises the number of FFA decreases. Since the high-intensity training causes less mobilization the low-intensity training burns more body fat. This does not have to be entirely true!

Even though the mobilization of fat is decreasing as the intensity rises, the overall oxidation of fat is bigger since you burn more calories but with a decreased burning of fat.

During low-intensity cardio, the speed of oxidation in FFA is a lot higher than in high-intensity ones. Meaning that during low-intensity training there is more mobilization of fat and the rate of oxidation is a lot higher than during a high-intensity one.

So, how come high-intensity training is better for burning fat?

It is better because even tho the amount of FFA that burns is less, the amount of overall burnt fat is a lot higher.

For example, let’s say that you burn 200 calories during low-intensity training and that 90% of those calories come from body fat, which means that you burnt 180 calories from fat and 20 from other sources.

But if you have done a high-intensity training during that period of time you would probably burn 330 calories and 75% of those calories would come from body fat.

That means that you would burn 225 calories from fat and 75 calories from other sources ( keep in mind that the figures mentioned are just taken as an example and that they do not represent the accurate percentage of fat that you burn during cardio training).

With high-intensity training, you burn a lot more fat and calories than with low-intensity training in the same period of time.

What Is HIIT?

HIIT (high-intensity interval training) is a cardio training based on the idea of high intensity as the most efficient way to burn the biggest amount of calories and fat. It is done on a level so intense that your body will spend the rest of the day using energy trying to recover from the stress you put it through.

This means that you will burn nine times more fat while sitting in the chair later on during the day after your training than you would if you spend half an hour on a treadmill doing low-intensity training.

It is necessary that you step out of your comfort zone and really challenge yourself. If you are willing to do this you will spend less than half of the time training than you used to do and you will become a lot slimmer in the process.

HIIT and interval training are very similar the only difference is in the intensity you are doing it in. So, what is interval training? Interval training is training with variations of intensity where you switch high-intensity and low-intensity training.

HIIT switches the intervals of very high-intensity training with the intervals of lower intensity training. There are many ways to do interval training. Use variety to keep it interesting. You can do it on a stationary bike, treadmill, ordinary bike, you can run…

Benefits of HIIT Training

Besides the reduction of time spent doing your workout, there are other benefits to HIIT training. First of all, this kind of training is much more superior when it comes to the increase of your VO2 maximum (maximum amount of oxygen you can intake during the workout). This means you will be in much better shape when it comes to any kind of sports activity.

Second, when you are doing long workouts of low-intensity you can bring your self into a state where you start losing muscle mass. In other words, the muscles that you worked so hard to gain will start to disappear in your efforts to lose weight.

HIIT  Is Perfect For:

  • Raising the level of hormones that burn fat like adrenalin
  • Suppressing the level of insulin
  • Fastening the metabolism more than other methods of cardio

Now you know what to do, but remember knowledge without action is useless. Of course, it is difficult but there are no shortcuts!