Saturday, December 10, 2011

Cardiovascular Exercise

There are three main types of cardiovascular exercise that people typically utilize in their training.  These types are low intensity steady state, high intensity training and high intensity interval training.  The names of the types of cardiovascular exercise should give you a clue about what they entail.

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Low intensity steady state

Low intensity steady state (LISS) are what people commonly think of when they hear the term "Cardio".  This is around 30 to 60 minutes of the treadmill, elliptical, running or any other cardiovascular exercise being done at a slow pace.  When I say a "slow pace", this means that your heart levels are constantly less than or equal to 50% of it's maximum heart rate for the whole duration of the cardiovascular training session.

High intensity training

High intensity cardiovascular training is the complete opposite of low intensity steady state cardio in that if one does this cardio his or her heart rate will be around 75% to 95% of their maximum heart rate for the whole session.  Usually, people cannot last longer than around 15 to 30 minutes of this type of cardio since it is very taxing on one's central nervous system.  I advise all out there that if you are going to do this type of cardiovascular training, do not do it on a heavy and or high volume weight training day.  This is because after you are done lifting those weights, your central nervous system will be fatigued and it takes a while for it to recover.

High intensity interval training

This type of cardiovascular training is a hybrid of low intensity steady state cardio and high intensity cardio.  Your heart rate while doing this type of training will be in intervals and it will be fluctuating from around 50% to 75-90%.  There are many ways to do your high intensity interval training, usually when one plays a sport, they classify that type of training as high intensity interval training.  This is because in most sports there are short times where you will probably need a burst of energy such as sprinting.  Just like high intensity training, this type of cardio will be taxing on your central nervous system as well and are recommended to be spaced at least three to four hours apart from your weight training sessions.

Example of high intensity interval training

Elliptical (15-20 minutes)

1 minute at 150 strides per minute (around 50% max heart rate)

20-30 seconds at 275-300 strides per minute (around 75-90% max heart rate)

For your 15 to 20 minutes of cardio, you would start out at around 150 strides per minute for a minute then you would spring at 275-300 spm then go back down to 150 spm.  You would do this cycle for the entire time of your cardiovascular training session. 

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What I like to do is to cycle my cardio training through a low intensity cardio and one of the high intensity cardio.  For example, let's say I were to do four cardiovascular training sessions this week, if I were to start the first cardio training session as a low intensity cardio the next session I would do a high intensity cardio.  So it would look like this:

Day 1 - Low intensity steady state
Day 2 - High intensity training
Day 3 - Low intensity steady state
Day 4 - High intensity interval training

Like I have said in previous posts, cardiovascular training is not completely necessary to achieve most fitness goals but it is important to do if you want to keep your cardiovascular system strong.

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