Out of all exercises, cardiovascular exercise seems to be the most popular. The reason behind this can be traced to its simplicity. People engage in one simple movement, in a repetition fashion, for a long period of time. As time passes and as they sweat, it seems to “work”.
Although cardiovascular exercise may seem self explanatory, there is a “right” way to do it and there are some tips and tricks you can try to maximize its benefits.
First, let’s start by breaking down the two types of cardio exercise: LISS (i.e. low intensity steady state) and HITT (i.e. high intensity interval training). These two types of cardio are defined by your pattern of heart performance.
During LISS cardio, your heart rate is at a steady state, usually at a moderate rate (50-65%) of your maximum heart rate. Therefore, you are able to perform for a longer duration (at least 30 minutes). You can identify whether you are performing LISS cardio by using a smart sport watch or simply trying out a light 100m run and seeing if you can reach a steady-enough speed without running out of breath. Because you’ll be doing this cardio for at least 30 minutes, it’s a good idea to pick an exercise you are most comfortable with, have easy access to, and is safe for a long duration. I recommend indoor and outdoor jogging, hiking, swimming, cycling and elliptical machines.
When performing HIIT cardio, your heart rate should go through “on and off” intervals, where “on” is during a quick burst of high intensity. Your heart rate should be between a 70 to 90% max heart rate, which means you should be running out of breath by the end of it. This “on” phase is immediately followed by the “off” phase where you are to bring your heart rate down to about 40 to 50%. You can pick an exercise that you can perform with a high intensity. If you pick running, you can do 60 seconds of sprinting followed by 60 to 90 seconds of moderate speed walking. Repeat the “on and off” interval for a total of 10 minutes. You can expect to feel pretty tired after the 10 minutes.
Choosing between LISS or HIIT cardio exercises should depend on your fitness goals and personal preferences. However, you should consider the duration and intensity of the exercises and determine if/where they fit into your particular workout routine. Since LISS requires a longer duration, it’s recommended to do it on its own, without pairing it with other forms of training. If you are looking for a quick 10 minutes fat loss exercise after a weight training session, HIIT cardio is a good solution. Since LISS is low impact, you may prefer it if you are a beginner or just getting back into training after a long break. On the other hand, an experienced individual with a full understanding of his or her limits and desires may find HIIT to be a good addition to their workout routine.
There are three things to remember for before and after care of cardio exercise.
1. Hydrate! Make sure you are hydrated enough before and after your cardio session. If you are able to, take a quick sip during your LISS or during the “off” phase of HIIT.
2. Dynamic stretching must be done prior to cardio to prepare your muscle, nerves, ligaments and tendons. After cardio, perform static stretching to cool down.
3. Include muscle deactivations such as foam rolling, massage and bath in your wellness routine. A good night's sleep also is a key factor for adequate recovery.