Have you ever told yourself you want to run a marathon?
If you did and you have, congratulations because that is NOT easy.
There was a BRIEF period of time where my goal was to run a marathon.
Physically, I am more than capable of running; however, it is a serious mental WAR inside of my brain.
But if you know me, you know I convinced myself that I can overcome any mental hurdle and I would prove that by running a marathon.
I tried. I genuinely put effort into it.
I created a program to slowly ease into it, and it was working!
I was following the program until I had an epiphany during a run.
I always listened to a podcast while running (kill two birds with one stone by getting in some education), and this podcast just so happened to be about finding your passion and doing what you love.
Then it hit me.
I do not enjoy running.
Never once did I look forward to a run. In fact, I dreaded it!
I got off the treadmill and never went back.
Running or any cardiovascular training is really one you either love or you hate.
It’s not for me, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t or can’t train my cardiovascular system.
From a professional and educational standpoint, I understand its value, but from a personal standpoint, I had yet to find a form of cardio that I valued.
I did some soul searching, experimentation, and coaching consultations and have found a healthy balance for me to work my cardiovascular system WITHOUT hating it.
You NEED cardio.
It’s great for your entire cardiovascular and respiratory systems (heart, lungs, etc.).
If you’ve convinced yourself that you just hate cardio and aren’t made for you then I challenge you to keep reading.
Start asking yourself the tough questions to find out if you CAN’T or WON’T do cardio, whether or not you’ve found the right strategy for you, and you’re doing something you enjoy.
You want to be healthy and live long, right?
Let’s break down the 7 most common forms of cardiovascular training.
Low-Intensity Steady State Cardio
This form of cardio is something long, slow, easy, and continuous.
It’s long in that in order to see any significant caloric burn, it must take place for 40 consecutive minutes or longer. This is not to say that a caloric burn does not take place
in shorter, more frequent bouts; however, continuous low-intensity cardio offers the best potential for results.
Any exercise of this form is done a slow and easy pace. It is distinguished from other forms of exercise because it involves training at 40 to 60 percent of one’s maximum heart rate. The intensity should be low enough that you are able to talk and hold a conversation throughout exercise.
Aside from someone with an existing injury, there really is not an individual who would not benefit from low-intensity steady state cardio. It is great for those who are new to exercise, who are seeking fat loss, who have joint or muscular concerns, or those who simply prefer a more casual form of exercise. It is also a great compliment to those who routinely train at a high-level of intensity as a means for recovery.
- Lightly Jogging
- Casual Swimming
Moderate-intensity cardio is one step up from low-intensity steady state. It’s done at a slightly elevated level of intensity and is considered to be any aerobic exercise done within the range of 65 to 75 percent maximum heart rate. One should still be able to talk but may show signs of slightly more labored breathing.
Due to the increase in intensity, this form of exercise can only be performed for 20 to 40 minutes. It is again believed that best results from moderate-intensity exercise come from training in one consecutive bout.
Moderate-intensity cardio is great for someone who is still new to exercise but looking to add on to the intensity of their low-intensity work. It’s also a great option for those who do not have the time to work out for greater than 40 minutes or are looking to take a step down from their higher intensity work.
- Speed Walking
- Stair Stepper
High-intensity work is a step up from moderate-intensity. The intensity level jumps to 75 to 80 percent of one’s maximum heart rate to allow individuals to stay with aerobic training (any higher transitions to anaerobic training – more on that to come).
Just as with moving from low- to moderate-intensity, moving from moderate- to high-intensity decreases the duration of exercise. Dependent upon one’s training level, fitness level, and demands of the activity, high-intensity work is completed in a 5 to 20 minute window.
If you are looking to assess based again on the talk test, the labored breathing prevents more than a few words during exercise.
High-intensity cardio is for someone with more experience. It’s great for calorie and fat burn, and is a great training tool for athletes.
Duration: Medium to Long
Aerobic interval training combines the different levels of intensity. During these training bouts, you alternate between time sets of high to moderate intensity with those of low intensity. The most important thing about aerobic intervals is that you keep moving! You must maintain a balance, so that you’re working hard but not too hard the you stop altogether.
This form of cardiovascular training is great for those looking to lose weight. It also works well for those who are looking to raise the intensity of their training without a completely high-intensity workout.
Running and Walking
- Speed Cycling and Casual Cycling
- Intense Lap Swimming and Causal Swimming
Duration: Short to Medium
Anaerobic intervals raise the overall intensity of aerobic interval training. This form of training alternates between only high- and low-intensity training. Unlike the traditional high-intensity cardiovascular training, these high-intervals are meant to be at 90 to 100% of your maximum heart rate, and the low-intensity intervals are kept at 30 to 40 percent of your maximum heart rate.
This form of training does require experience and is not for beginners. It is great for fat loss, training for athletic performance, and those who have limited time for training.
- Sprinting and Walking
- Spring Cycling and Casual Cycling
- Power Rowing and Casual Rowing
Intensity: Moderate to High
Duration: Short to Medium
What a name, right? Still makes me chuckle.
It’s a Swedish term that translates to speed play or training.
Fartlek training is a mash up of all other forms of training. Your first interval may be longer and of lower intensity, followed by a short bout of high intensity, another long, lower intensity bout, and then a moderate-intensity and medium duration bout.
Again, this form of training is not for beginners as it does require an awareness of your intensity levels and abilities. It is great for an individual looking to keep the workout fresh and who bores easily with training. It’s another great resource for fat loss, body composition, and sports performance goals.
- Sprint, Jog, Run, Jog
Intensity: Moderate to High
Duration: Short to Medium
Circuit training combines weight and cardiovascular training. The goal is to perform an exercise for an interval of time at a high-level of intensity, rest or perform a lower-intensity exercise, and then repeat that exercise two to three more times.
Circuit training does require that you know and understand each exercise in the circuit. It’s great for fat burning and muscle building. For those who enjoy variety or working out with friends, this is also a great option!
You may not LOVE cardio like me, but you also may not have found the right style of cardio for you and your goals.
Believe it or not, I stick to a lot of Low-Intensity Steady State exercise.
My current training style is of high-intensity, so matching that with any high-intensity cardio is a lot for me to handle physically and mentally. The Low-Intensity Steady State cardio gives my body a break from the physical and mental demands a training.
The best part? I don’t HATE doing it.
Sure it takes a few minutes to get started and convince myself that I’m up for it, but once I get going, I’m confident I can finish.