Cardio – the exercise dreaded most by regular gym-goers. It is tiring, it makes you sweaty and it can be boring or monotonous. But, cardiovascular exercise is actually a really effective fat-burner. On its own, it may not give you your desired results, but nothing will. Weights alone will not give you the results you want either – you have to combine it with the right diet. When you combine cardio with a good diet and weight training, it can really play an integral part in achieving your results. Why? Because to achieve your desired look, chances are you need a low body fat percentage. And guess what – cardio speeds up that process!
So what forms of cardio are there? Option 1 – Low Intensity Steady State (LISS) Option 2 – High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
Most people only think of cardio as Option 1, hence they find it boring. LISS is any form of cardio that keeps your heart-rate to 50-70% of your maximum heart-rate. Maximum heart-rate is worked out by subtracting your age from 220. So, as I am 21, my maximum heart-rate is 220-21=199bpm. Therefore, for LISS cardio my heart-rate needs to be between 100-139bpm. There are different ways to achieve this depending on your own preferences – steady rate walking, running, cycling or rowing can all be used as LISS exercises. I prefer high incline walking, but that’s just me!
For HIIT, on the other hand, your heart-rate needs to be above 80% of your maximum heart rate. So, for me, this would mean my heart-rate needs to be over 159bpm. Exercises that achieve this include hill sprints, circuits and most sports e.g. netball, football, rugby. My favourite HIIT exercise is netball, but when that’s not an option I actually really enjoy doing sprints… I find I get a real feel-good factor afterwards (even though the thought of doing them is awful).
Both forms of cardio are effective for fat-burning, and there is much discussion over which one is better, so I am not going to go into that now. However, for LISS to be effective you need to do it for 30 minutes or so, whereas for HIIT to be effective it only needs to be performed for approx. 20 minutes. Therefore, if you are short for time, do HIIT. This also means the excuse ‘I didn’t have time’ is void… everyone has a spare 20 minutes in their day!
So, to summarise what I’ve said…
Cardio can help you achieve your desired look by burning fat
For cardio to be effective, it MUST be combined with the right diet (and weight training)