Cardio, you either love it or hate it. I used to loathe it to the core, until I realized that cardio wasn’t only about running on a treadmill for hours at a time. Cardio is great, let’s face…

Cardio, you either love it or hate it. I used to loathe it to the core, until I realized that cardio wasn’t only about running on a treadmill for hours at a time.

Cardio is great, let’s face it. It’s good for your heart, losing weight, increasing your energy levels, releasing endorphins, etc. It’s kind of necessary to be healthy. The thing is, there are many different types of cardio training, so you will most likely find what works best for you among all of these!

All types have their advantages and disadvantages. Some are more for professionals, other for beginners. Which one should you choose? We break them down in this blog post.

Low intensity, long duration or Steady State

This is pretty self-explanatory. This type of cardio is slow and easy, but long and continuous. Your heart rate shouldn’t be higher than 60% of your MHR. You must train at a consistent pace with no fluctuation to keep your heart rate at a steady state.
This type of cardio includes walking, cycling, jogging.
These workouts are aerobic, which means that your primary source of energy is oxygen.

Who’s it for?

Mainly beginners. You should be able to hold a conversation during your workout. This type of workout lasts for at least 40 minutes at a constant rate.

Pros:

Good for burning fat and increasing your fitness level. It can burn up to 500 kcal in 30 minutes.

Cons:

Can get boring and time-consuming.

Tip:

As you increase the intensity, you can decrease the duration: Medium intensity, medium duration. High intensity, short duration.

Aerobic Interval Training:

Interval trainings are great for burning calories and speeding up your weight loss without spending too much time at the gym. This type of cardio combines medium to high intensity aerobic training together with a little period of low intensity cardio.

For example, an interval aerobic training can be: 3 minutes fast run followed by 1 minute of slow walk, repeated 4 to 5 times.

Of course, you can lower intervals and increase the intensity as your fitness level improves, but it shouldn’t be so tiring that you have to stop.

Pros:

Because the energy outputs are short and intense, this type of workout helps you lose weight faster compared to steady state training (seen above). Also, you don’t have to workout as long.

Cons:

Can be tiring. Some people don’t like higher intensity and would prefer long, steady workout. To each their own!

Anaerobic Interval Training

Anaerobic exercises are activities that require quick bursts of power at high intensities. These includes sprinting, weight lifting, or vigorous sports such as hockey or rugby.
Unlike aerobic Interval training, anaerobic interval training will be more intense (85-100% of MHR versus 70-80%) and the resting periods will be equal or longer than the exercise periods.

Pros:

Super efficient fat burner. Improves your performances. Workouts are no longer than 30 minutes. Creates an excess of post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) which means that your metabolism is still burning at a higher rate many hours after you workout. Basically you will still burn calories once you’re home watching your favorite TV show! Awesome, right?

Cons:

Harder on the joints and muscles. Can lead to injuries if sessions are too long or done too often. We recommend waiting at least 24 hours between two anaerobic interval workouts.

Tip:

To know if your training anaerobically, use the talk test: you shouldn’t be able to carry on a conversation without having to pause to catch your breath.

Circuit Training

Check out our blog post about circuit training!

Bottom line.

Cardiovascular training is important but can be a drag to some people (me!). Luckily, you can choose which type you prefer according to your fitness level and your personal tastes. If you get easily bored but are not a professional athlete, I’d recommend giving aerobic interval training a try.
Keep it mind that you will get the best results by mixing aerobic and anaerobic training in your routine.