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Guidelines for Effective Cardio Exercise - Part 2

Provided by Global Health Fitness

It is important that you understand and implement the different methods of cardio exercise into your workout plan. It's critical that you realize the different options of a cardiovascular workout plan so you can overcome any plateaus you encounter and prevent boredom.

Both eventually happen if you continue to do the same exercise and the same training style. You should always be going through a "momentum phase" in your cardiovascular exercise workout plan where you continue to achieve good results. Thus, when you reach a plateau, you want to change your workout plan and implement a new method. We will now discuss the three different training methods that you should work into your cardiovascular exercise workout plan.

Cardio Workouts Plan Technique #1: Continuous Training

The first method, the most common and traditional way of doing a cardiovascular exercise workout plan, is called continuous training. This means that you do one form of cardiovascular exercise workout plan for the full duration. So your entire cardio exercise session is one continuous activity, such as riding a stationary bike. As a result you're using large muscle groups (your legs) continuously for at least 20 minutes at 50-100 percent of your max HR intensity. You may get bored with this and want to increase the intensity, so the next method will be something to eventually incorporate into your workout plan.

Cardio Workout Plan Technique #2: Interval Training

Interval training is an intermediate method of a cardio training workout plan and thus should not be done by beginners or those of low functional capacity. Interval training consists of repeated intervals of relatively light intensities such as walking interspersed with relatively hard intensities such as jogging or running. The "light" interval should be done at an intensity ranging from 50-70 percent of your max HR, depending on functional capacity and personal goals and interests. The "hard" interval should be done at an intensity ranging from 70-100 percent of your max HR (you should first get cleared by your physician to train at an intensity greater than 80 percent of max HR), depending on functional capacity and personal goals and interests.

The light interval, or the walking interval in this example, should take approximately the same time to complete as the hard or jogging/running interval. Intervals typically last 2-10 minutes in duration.

Many times, however, the light interval lasts longer than the hard interval, especially for those of low functional capacity or those of high functional capacity training at an intensity greater than 80 percent of max HR). These intervals should be repeated in your workout plan until you have reached the desired duration, usually 20-60 minutes.

Please note: before doing your interval training, start with a warm-up of the same cardiovascular activity for about 5-10 minutes at 50-60 percent of max HR, stretch the muscles used, then begin your light interval, hard interval, and so on. For example, if you are in moderate shape and you want to train cardiovascularly for 30 minutes, you should: begin with a warm-up of the same activity (walking in this example) for 5-10 minutes at a light intensity (50-60 percent of your max HR); do a light interval of walking slowly, increasing the intensity for about 5 minutes; do a hard interval by either jogging or running for about 5 minutes. Do this two more times and you have completed your cardio workout plan and trained at several different heart rate zones, gaining several different benefits. Be sure to cool-down for 5-10 minutes at a light intensity of 50-60 percent of your max HR. Stretch the primary muscles used.

Cardio Workouts Plan Technique #3: Composite Training

The third workout plan training method is called composite training. This is a combination of several different cardio exercises, one after the other. One example is bicycling 15 minutes (after a warm-up and stretching the muscles used) to a track or running course, running or jogging 10-15 minutes, then bicycling back home, followed by a cool-down and stretching those muscles used.

Or, if you do your workout plan in a health club, you could walk on a treadmill for 10 minutes (after warm-up and stretching the muscles used) and do the stairstepper for an additional 10 minutes. If you're shooting for 30 minutes total in duration, you could then go right to the rowing machine and finish with a final 10 minutes, followed by a cool-down and stretching the same muscles as before. This is another way of fighting boredom with your workout plan and also increasing the intensity and results.

If you want to take it one step further and really try something intense and exciting, incorporate the interval and the composite training into your workout plan. While you're on the treadmill change the speed from walking to jogging every other minute, or from flat to a 5 percent grade. Then, after 10 minutes of treadmill, move on to the stationary bike changing the resistance from intense to less intense, every other minute. Remember, always begin with a warm-up of 5-10 minutes at a low intensity and stretch the muscles used, and conclude your workout with a cool-down of 5-10 minutes at a low intensity of 50-60 percent of max HR. Stretch the same muscles as before.

Importance of Combining Strength Training, Flexibility Training, and Good Nutrition with Your Cardiovascular Exercise Workout Plan

By now you have probably realized that a cardio exercise should be an important part of your workout plan. A cardiovascular exercise workout plan provides many important benefits that cannot be achieved by any other exercise or activity. In addition to cardio exercise, there are four other important components of overall health and fitness: strength training, flexibility training, and proper nutrition/weight management.

Implementing all four components of health and fitness into your workout plan may seem overwhelming at first, but making small simple changes over time in each of these areas will drastically improve how you think, look, act and feel. In addition, improving any one of the five components of health will complement and thereby make improvements in other aspects of your health. For example, training cardiovascularly will not only improve your heart and lung capacity, it will also make improvements in your weightlifting workout plan performance. Note: Please refer to each specific component for further detailed information on each of the other four aspects of health and fitness.

Strength Training Workouts

A strength training workout plan is exercise that uses resistance--for example, weights--to strengthen and condition the musculoskeletal system, improving muscle tone and endurance. Physiologically, the benefits of a consistent strength training workout plan include an increase in muscle size and tone, increased muscle strength, and increases in tendon, bone, and ligament strength. Strength training has also been shown to improve psychological health as well, by increasing self-esteem, confidence and self-worth. These improvements have a great influence on our physical performance, metabolic efficiency, physical appearance and risk of injury.

One of the biggest mistakes people make when starting an exercise and nutrition/weight management workout plan is not including a strength-training program with their cardiovasuclar exercise and low-fat eating regimen. This is unfortunate because when we cut calories without exercise, we can lose muscle as well as fat. Many do not choose to do strength training because 1) they mistakenly think they are going to make their body big and bulky, and 2) they do not realize how beneficial and important strength training is in a weight-management program. Refer to the GHF Strength Training workout plan for more information on a safe and effective strength training program.

Flexibility Training Workout Plan

Flexibility is one of the key components of a balanced fitness workout plan. Without flexibility-training (stretching), you are missing an important part of overall health. Flexibility prevents injury, increases your range of motion, promotes relaxation, improves performance and posture, reduces stress and keeps your body feeling loose and agile. The range of motion for any joint is defined primarily by the elasticity of the muscles and tendons attached to it. So the point of stretching is to make your muscles loose and elastic so your joints can bend as smoothly and widely as possible. Unused muscles actually become shorter and tighter over time, limiting your ability to move freely.

There is absolutely no evidence that people lose flexibility as they gain muscle or improve their cardiovascular system—as long as they stretch and practice proper exercise technique. Refer to the principles and guidelines sections of the GHF Flexibility Training workout plan for further instructions on a safe and effective flexibility program with specific stretches for each muscle group. We will teach you how to integrate safe and effective flexibility-training into your exercise workout plan.

Good luck: I hope you enjoy all the wonderful benefits of an effective cardio exercise workout plan.

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Effective Cardio Exercise - 1
Effective Cardio Exercise - 2