The Cardio Question

by Ryan Betzina

I get many questions regarding "losing those extra few pounds and extra layer of fat." This always brings me to the cardio/aerobics question. "What is it and how much should I do?"

Well, let's start with what it is. "Cardio" literally means "having to do with the heart and blood vessels." It is essentially low-impact repetition training that helps to improve your overall cardiovascular health.

Cardio is one of the best ways to burn a lot of calories while losing extra bodyfat and giving your metabolism a big boost. Cardio exercises are those that raise your heart rate to 65-90% of your maximum heart rate. Now, you may be thinking: "How do I find out what my maximum heart rate is?"

An easy way to figure out your maximum heart rate is to subtract your age from 220. For instance, the maximum heart rate for a 28-year-old should be 192 ( 220-28=192). To figure out your cardio range, multiply your maximum heart rate by 65% and 90%. So, the cardio range for that same 28-year-old should be between 125 and 173 ( 192 times .65 = 125 and 192 times .90 = 173). (see chart)

Just remember, a general rule of thumb to follow is that if you are having trouble talking because you are gasping for air, you are working too hard. On the other hand, if your breathing rate hardly changes, you aren't working hard enough.

Cardio has many benefits, from; reducing blood pressure, improving heart health to improving lung function. Amidst all of these good reasons to do cardio work, the biggest reason for most people is to lose fat. How much should you do though? If you are a beginner, or if you just haven't done any cardio activities for a few months, you should limit your first few sessions to only 10-15 min.

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After you've done it for a few weeks and have built up some endurance, you should increase your cardio sessions to 20-60 min. You begin to burn more fat than carbohydrates after 20 minutes. Because of this, shorter cardio sessions are best for maintaining your current weight, while longer sessions are best for losing weight.

If you just want to maintain your current weight then 60-90 minutes PER WEEK will usually be adequate. How you choose to split that time up during the week is your choice and depends on your level of endurance.

If your goal is to burn as much bodyfat as you can, 2-5 hours of cardio PER WEEK will be sufficient. Your sessions should be 40-60 minutes in length.

The best time to do your cardio sessions for maximum fat loss is right away in the morning before you eat anything. After you've been asleep for 6-8 hours, the level of sugar (glucose) in your blood is very low and your body will use stored fat as an alternative energy source.

If you are consistent with your cardio workouts and can incorporate them into your life, you will see results!

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