As you go about setting up a workout program, whether you're a beginner or someone who is more advanced, one important element of your training that you cannot afford to overlook is cardio exercise.
Cardio exercise is the exercise variation that most people start out with when venturing into fitness, and it offers a number of advantages. While in time you definitely want to be combining your cardio workouts with a structured resistance training protocol as well, during the initial stages, cardio training can help to get the ball rolling.
Let's go over a few of the main things that you'll want to know about cardio training and how to get a proper workout program designed in your protocol.
What Cardio Training Is
First we need to talk about what cardio training is. Cardio training is any form of exercise that is going to get your body moving and keep it moving for an extended period of time. It doesn't have to be anything special—any form of physical activity will count.
Walking, jogging, swimming, even window shopping, can count as cardio. There are a number of different intensities at which cardio training can be done, and while obviously the more intense variations will offer the greatest benefits, this isn't to say that simple movement won't be beneficial.
The Benefits of Cardio Training
Speaking of benefits, what are the benefits to cardio training?
First, you're going to improve your heart health. Just as strength training works each individual muscle in the body, cardio training is going to work your heart muscle as well.
Cardio training is also a good way to burn up calories and increase your daily expenditure, keeping your body weight under control. More intense forms of cardio training, such as interval cardio training, can also boost your metabolic rate so that you burn calories faster for hours after you've completed them.
Cardio training is also a great way to relieve stress as it tends to release feel good endorphins in the body and put you into a calmer and more relaxed state.
Cardio training also helps to boost your bone strength if it's a weight bearing exercise, so it can be a great option for anyone hoping to ward off osteoporosis and bone breaks.
Finally, cardio training also helps to boost insulin sensitivity, so it may help to ward off diabetes development as well.
Cardio training has too many benefits to be had, so it's one exercise you don't want to pass up.
Adding Cardio to Your Workouts
So now that you know what cardio is and the benefits, how do you go about adding it to your workout?
If you're a beginner, you'll likely want to start by doing cardio training two to three times per week for 20–30 minutes. Keep the intensity moderate and comfortable so that you are enjoying the activity.
As you get more advanced in your conditioning level, you can then introduce sprint training where you work much harder for 30–60 seconds, and then back off and perform active rest for twice as long, alternating between these as you go.
Just keep in mind that you should always make sure that you do have at least one day off entirely from all cardio training, and at most, you'll only want to do two to three interval/sprint cardio workouts per week.
These are very taxing and stressful on the body, so not something that you want to overdo, especially when first starting.
So there you have the information to know about cardio training. It's an important piece of the fitness puzzle to get into place if you hope to achieve optimal results.