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Cardio 4. Understanding different types of cardio trainings

Starting an exercise journey can be overwhelming due to the multitude of approaches, classifications, and advice available. Without prior experience, it can be challenging to navigate through this information. As a result, many inexperienced individuals rely on what they already know, often falling into the trap of making mistakes, engaging in ineffective workouts, and failing to achieve their desired results, eventually leading to the abandonment of their training efforts.

This article aims to provide clarity and guidance on cardio exercises, specifically targeting untrained older individuals who aspire to enhance their physical fitness and overall well-being. By understanding the significance of different workouts, readers will gain valuable insights to support their fitness journey.

In this article, we will steer clear of passing fads and commercial trends, as well as avoid complicated jargon. Instead, our focus will be on explaining principles that will empower you to select enjoyable workouts and maximize their effectiveness.

Training goals

When considering different types of training, it’s essential to understand their specific goals and what can be achieved through them. Training goals can vary significantly and may include:

  • Power training
  • Endurance development
  • Increase in muscle mass
  • Improvement of balance and coordination of movements
  • Improvement of body flexibility and muscle stretching
  • Enhancement of the cardiovascular system and breathing
  • Fat burning, and more.

By identifying your desired training goal, you can tailor your workouts to effectively work towards achieving it.

For athletes, there may be more complex training aimed at improving some specific skills.

When embarking on your workouts, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve. Avoid trying to pursue multiple goals simultaneously. If you find it challenging to define a specific goal, begin by focusing on improving your overall health and fitness while targeting the reduction of excess fat. This approach allows you to prioritize your well-being and lays a foundation for further progress.

Training modes

In cardio training, you have the option to train in aerobic and anaerobic modes.

Aerobic training relies on utilizing oxygen obtained through respiration to produce energy, while anaerobic training occurs when the body lacks sufficient oxygen and relies on other energy sources. During anaerobic training, lactate accumulates in the body. The energy requirements of your body are closely linked to respiration and heart rate. As the demand for energy increases, so does your heart rate and breathing.

Aerobic mode involves low-intensity exercise with a moderate heart rate, focusing on endurance.

Anaerobic mode is more intense but shorter in duration, targeting strength and power.

Thus, looking at the description of the training, we can assume what mode it is. If the training lasts more than 20 minutes without pauses for rest, then it is an aerobic mode, if the efforts are short-term and alternate with pauses, this is an anaerobic training. By the way, all interval training is based on the anaerobic mode.

Which mode to choose

For athletic, experienced, and well-trained individuals, either mode can be suitable. However, for untrained and less experienced individuals, it is recommended to focus on aerobic training within a specific heart rate interval (see Calculation of the optimal heart rate article).

As mentioned earlier, training at excessively high heart rates can cause significant physiological changes, particularly in the heart muscle. In the absence of experience or in the presence of factors such as being overweight, these changes can have negative consequences.

Cardio training

So, we have come to the conclusion that the so-called aerobic cardio training is most suitable for improving general condition and health, as well as for reducing body weight. The choice is also dictated by the fact that this is the gentlest training for the heart.

Cardio training is a low-intensity exercise that involves many muscle groups, taking place under conditions of aerobic metabolism.

Let’s highlight the key points of cardio training.

  • Certain duration. Approximately 30 – 60 minutes.
  • Many muscle groups are involved (and the more, the better).
  • The intensity is low to medium.
  • The heart rate is approximately 70% of the maximum.

So, anything that looks like the above is most likely cardio training.

The effects of cardio training

  • Skeletal muscles are strengthened.
  • There is a positive effect on tendons, ligaments, and joints
  • Increases the efficiency of the heart and breathing.
  • The body’s endurance increases.
  • Decreased body weight
  • Improves mental state, and reduces stress.

At the same time, deep adaptive changes in the body and in the heart in the form of its hypertrophy do not occur.

Types of cardio training

The most common types of CT

  • A ride on the bicycle
  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Skiing
  • Jogging

There are other activity options, such as rhythmic gymnastics (aerobics), jumping rope, circuit training (aerobic and anaerobic exercises are usually combined here), etc.

In our opinion, cycling is one of the most effective forms of cardio training. It allows for the convenient placement of a heart rate monitor and provides clear visibility of heart rate during the workout. Cycling also offers ease in controlling and adjusting the intensity of the workout based on heart rate.

The duration of cardio training

As already noted, cardio workouts last from 30 to 60 minutes. You can do a little more if you feel strong enough, but you should not train for less than 30 minutes. Of course, at first, 20-minute workouts are quite suitable.

You don’t have to train every day. Exercising more than an hour every day has a strong effect on the heart, even in athletes. Approximately 2 – 3 workouts per week, especially at first – the optimum.

Cardio training and heart rate

As you should already know from previous articles it is worth training on the second and third heart rate zones, i.e. approximately 60 – 80% (see Table 3 from the previous article) of the maximum heart rate (MHR).

Graduality is the key to success and a healthy heart.