Use Cardio to Lose Weight
Joe Fleming explains how to lose weight with appropriate cardiovascular exercise.
Not too long ago, gym-goers -- especially women -- had a hard time detaching themselves from the cardio machines and picking up weights.
Now, the tables have turned somewhat, and more people seem to be lifting weights. But, at the same time, they seem to be neglecting cardiovascular exercise altogether.
Cardiovascular exercise is vital for overall health and fitness, and, when it is done correctly, it can help burn fat and shed excess weight.
Read on to learn more about what you can do to change up your cardio workouts and ensure they are helping you reach your weight loss goals.
Types of Cardio
First, it is vital to understand the different types of cardio you can use for weight loss. Some of the most common forms of cardio include:
LISS, or low-intensity steady-state cardio, is what most people think of when they think of cardiovascular exercise.
As the name suggests, LISS involves longer periods of exercise at lower intensities. For example, you might walk on the treadmill, use the elliptical machine, or climb the stair stepper for 40 minutes or more at a moderate pace. When doing this type of cardio, your heart rate will typically stay somewhere between 40 and 60% of your maximum heart rate. It should be easy to maintain a conversation.
MISS, or moderate-intensity steady-state cardio, is similar to LISS, but the workout is a bit shorter, and the intensity is a bit higher. MISS workouts usually last between 25 and 40 minutes, and your heart rate will be elevated to around 70% of your maximum heart rate.
HIIT, also known as high-intensity interval training, has become very popular in the last few years, as research has shown that it is an excellent option for people who want to burn fat without sacrificing muscle mass.
HIIT workouts involve short bursts of activity performed at high intensities (usually around 85% or more of your maximum heart rate). Longer rests follow these short intervals.
An example of a HIIT workout might be 30 seconds of sprinting followed by 90 seconds of rest, repeated ten times.
Many people confuse HIIT with circuit training. There are some crucial differences, though. HIIT workouts almost always involve cardio-based exercises (running, cycling, rowing, etc.). Circuits are more likely to include strength training exercises, with or without weights.
During circuit training sessions, exercises are performed for more extended periods compared to HIIT workouts -- usually about 1 minute each -- with very little rest. Circuit also does not require a specific intensity; you can vary the intensity to suit your particular fitness level.
Benefits of Cardio
There are lots of reasons to consider making cardiovascular exercise a regular part of your routine. Some of the specific benefits of cardio include:
How to Correctly Use Cardio for Weight Loss
As you can see, there are lots of reasons to add cardio to your routine. But, you need to make sure you are following these basic cardio guidelines.
Do not Overdo Steady-State Training
Whether it is LISS or MISS, you can have too much of a good thing when it comes to steady-state cardio.
After a while, your body adapts to that type of exercise, and you stop burning as many calories. Steady-state can be useful for recovery or just getting your blood flowing after a long day of sitting, but it is not the most effective for fat loss.
When you overdo steady-state training, your body may also be more likely to sacrifice muscle mass. This, in turn, can decrease your metabolism and make it harder for you to lose weight without significantly reducing the number of calories you consume.
You might think that skipping your warm-up is a good idea, especially if you are short on time. In reality, though, this can stop you from pushing yourself to maximum intensity. If you are about to do a HIIT workout, it is especially important to do a thorough warm-up. It will only take an extra five minutes, but you will get more out of your workout in the long run.
This is another common mistake people make when doing HIIT cardio.
To experience the benefits of HIIT, you need to be pushing yourself to 85-95% of your maximum heart rate. If you do not have a heart rate monitor, you can rate your intensity on a scale of one to ten. For HIIT workouts, your intensity should be eight or nine.
Remember, you should need a break when the 20-30 second interval is up. If you think you could keep going, you should be pushing yourself harder.
Focus on Frequency
The frequency of your cardio workouts will depend on the type of cardio you plan to be doing.
For example, if you are going to do steady-state cardio, 25-60 minutes (depending on the intensity) is sufficient. It is best to start with less and work your way up to more, though. If you take on too much, too soon, your body will adapt, and you will start experiencing diminishing returns.
If you are going to do HIIT cardio, limit yourself to just 1-2 sessions per week. These sessions should only last between eight and ten minutes. It is easy to overtrain and injure yourself during HIIT training sessions, so it is best to start slow.
When it comes to doing cardiovascular exercise, there is a pretty low barrier to entry. However, if you want to see the best results, you need to make sure you are not accidentally sabotaging yourself.
Be sure to keep these cardio tips and guidelines in mind to make sure you maximize weight loss and reach your goals as soon as possible.
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About the Author
Joe Fleming is the President at ViveHealth.com. Passionate about healthy lifestyles and living a full life, he enjoys sharing and expressing these interests through his writing. To inspire others and fight ageism, Joe writes to help people of all backgrounds and ages overcome life's challenges. His work ranges from articles on wellness, holistic health, and ageing to social narratives, motivational pieces, and news stories. For Joe, helping others is vital.