What's the Deal With Cardio?

What's the Deal With Cardio?

By: Jenna Davidson

So you enter a commercial gym after months, maybe years after not working out. How does it go for the first few days?

Maybe you hop on the elliptical, hoping that no one is watching. Maybe you brave the treadmill even.

Then after a few weeks of your new routine, you’re tired and sore and burnt out.

But you thought you were doing a good thing. How could taking the time to train for a few hours everyday be a bad thing?

What’s the deal with cardio?


What it is & What it isn’t

So when you think “cardio training”, are you picturing certain types of exercise and certain machines? Maybe. What cardio actually is, is training in specific heart rate (HR) zones at specific intensities for a prescribed period of time. In less nerdy terms, it’s improving your overall conditioning and improving your work capacity AKA how much work you can do.


Now that you know what’s up, let’s talk about how to start…

For most people, the first step is cardiac output training. This means a few things, depending on the tools you have available to you. If you own a Fitbit or Apple Watch, go by how many beats per minute (BPM) are on your device. Aim for 30 minutes or more of working between 120-150 BPM. If you use a MyZone, shoot for 60-80% of your max HR (blue to yellow zones). One detail to work out over time is finding out which moves get your HR up after their complete. So, if you enjoy doing kettlebell swings and want to use them for conditioning purposes, you may have to stop swinging around 75% of your max HR, as your HR may continue to climb when you’re done.


What exercises work for cardio?

The first (and most important question) is: what moves do you actually like? What kind of exercise gets you excited, makes you feel good and you can do somewhat easily? If you enjoy using a machine like elliptical, stair climber and treadmill, can you do one of the interval programs that are already built into it? If you like to pick up heavy stuff, can you go a little lighter to ensure that you’re taking minimal rest (safely, of course) in between moves or sets and can keep moving? Check out the templates below for more ideas!

Cardio can be a great start for you, if you do it right. Be mindful of how your body responds to certain exercises and types of training. When all else fails, ask a professional for help!

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