Cardio a.k.a Cardiovascular Training: The What, Why and How of it all.

What is cardio vascular training? Cardio vascular training is any movement that gets your heart rate up and increases blood circulation. Cardio vascular training is one of key components that should never be left out of any ones fitness programs. Cardio vascular training is also called Metabolic Conditioning or Metcon which refers to conditioning exercises intended to increase the storage and delivery of energy for any activity which means conditioning the muscles to use the fuel given to the muscles in a better manner by using different metabolic pathways i.e. aerobic, anaerobic and lactic threshold. This kind of training is usually used to condition athletes in sports like football, rugby , combative sports etc to improve their work capacity in their respective sports.
Cardio vascular training does help to burn fat, but besides that , it also has other important benefits for those looking to be fit for long time.
• The first one is an improved condition of your heart. Your heart is a muscle just like any other and in order for it to become strong it must be worked. If you fail to work it, it will weaken over time and this can cause a variety of negative health effects. By getting the heart pumping at a faster rate on a regular basis you will keep it in shape and healthy. Too many people are getting winded just performing simple exercises such as walking up the stairs and the primary reason for this is because they are neglecting to work their heart muscle.

• Improving circulation efficiently and reducing hypertension ( high blood pressure)

• Increasing the number of red blood cells in the body thus improving the transport of oxygen

• Improves aerobic capacity ( VO2 max)i.e the maximum amount of oxygen a body can use during an intense exercise during a specific period. More the aerobic capacity , an individual can perform an activity longer

• Increased storage of fats and carbohydrates in muscles for increased endurance

• Improving muscles ability to use fats as energy 

• Also helps in recovery of muscles by improving blood flow to the muscles.

Also most importantly cardio training improves your resting heart rate i.e . the number of beats your heart makes when one is at rest. The lower the resting heart rate according to your age , the healthier your cardio vascular system is. Below is the chart of age group of men and women and ideal resting heart rates:

Men Age  18–25 26–35 36–45 46–55 56–65 65+
Athlete     49–55 49–54 50–56 50–57 51–56 50–55
Excellent   56–61 55–61 57–62 58–63 57–61 56–61
Good        62–65 62–65 63–66 64–67 62–67 62–65
Abv Avg    66–69 66–70 67–70 68–71 68–71 66–69
Average    70–73 71–74 71–75 72–76 72–75 70–73
Below Avg 74–81 75–81 76–82 77–83 76–81 74–79
Poor         82+    82+     83+    84+     82+    80+

Women Age 18–25 24–35 36–45 46–55 56–65 65+
Athlete          54–60 54–59 54–59 54–60 54–59 54–59
Excellent       61–65 60–64 60–64 61–65 60–64 60–64
Good            66–69 65–68 65–69 66–69 65–68 65–68
Above Avg     70–73 69–72 70–73 70–73 69–73 69–72
Average        74–78 73–76 74–78 74–77 74–77 73–76
Below Avg     79–84 77–82 79–84 78–83 78–83 77–84
Poor             85+     83+    85+    84+    84+     85+

If you are starting on a fitness program for the first time, you can start off with walking . But do not walk around the park or on the treadmill aimlessly …… set yourself a target or goal. For instance see how long it takes to complete 1 kilometre and then try to bring down the timing in the next kilometre. But make sure you have a strength training program as well as it will help to strengthen your muscles, joints, tendons and improve your fat loss goals. As soon as you build up your endurance, you can start jogging. Start off with 2mins jog- 2 mins walk and then later as you get fitter 2 min jog and 1 min walking. If you’re regular with your training, you will soon see your endurance capacity improving. Soon you will be able to run for longer periods.

However, do not use cardio as an only tool for fat loss. Prolonged cardio training for long periods results in catabolism i.e. body turns to muscles instead of fat for fuel thus resulting in muscle loss. The body uses fats for fuel for 40 mins but longer than that it switches to muscles for fuel. Also long periods of cardio put the body under stress which releases a hormone cortisol which again leads to catabolism. Which is why you see that long distance runners are always so skinny compared to sprinters who are well built.

Now for people who have advanced level of fitness and athletes, the cardio training program should be different. This kind of cardio training is more challenging and is a change from conventional cardio training which can be monotonous and boring. It is also a kind of training that is more functional which means that it mimics everyday activity.

H.I.I.T. or High Intensity Interval Training. It involves sprinting a short distance and resting for a certain period. For example , sprint 100 meters , rest 1 min and sprint again for 100 metres.

Fartlek Training involves mixing continous and interval training. It is the original HIIT training method. This type of training is usually given to athletes training for sports like football , rugby, basketball where it mimics their games. It mixes low intensity running or walking and high intensity sprints. It also involves drills which require quick change in directions and focuses on improving agility ,e.g., cone drills.

Tabata or Power cardio or Metcon training involves doing a certain exercise for a certain time period and resting for sometime. Here work to rest ratio can be changed. It involves using your bodyweight or dumb bells, barbells and kettle bells. Example of this type of training can be:
20seconds jump squats with 20 seconds rest
20 seconds jumping jacks with 20 rest
20 seconds kettle bell swings with 20 rest

This type of training can be done in sets or circuits and work to rest ratio can be altered to make it challenging
The common factor of these types of cardio training is that they are performed at 80- 90 % of your maximum heart rate with rest in between as compared to long distance cardio at 40- 50% of your maximum heart rate. Here, you are using different metabolic pathways to burn fat. It also mimics our everyday activity which is more anaerobic than aerobic ( think about it, who ever runs a marathon ,which is a aerobic activity, everyday?). Other benefits include preserving our lean muscle mass , which will help in improving our Resting Metabolic Rate. And high intensity cardio training also improves our cardio vascular system much, much more rather than just doing long distance cardio. Another benefit of this training is that the training is high intense and can be done in 30 mins as opposed to 45- 90 mins of long distance cardio and still reap same benefits of long cardio but with a bonus. Training can be changed in order to prevent boredom. Twice a week of cardio training with strength training 3 times a weeks is one of best programs you can follow for achieving your fitness goals.

Curated for ProjectBattleready By Pushkaraj S Shirke


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