High Intensity Cardio

February 14, 2011

In the Beginning...

Back in the 1960s, when aerobics first became the exercise du jour, attending five, six, seven or eight classes per week was considered appropriate - never mind the overuse injuries - it was the best way to burn fat and to have the body you dreamed about. There are still a good number of women who subscribe to this philosophy in spite of the current information. That said, high intensity training does enable a person to burn more calories in less time, but having some variety can help stimulate the different energy systems in your body - not to mention reducing overuse injuries and boredom.

What is High Intensity Cardio?

High intensity cardio is considered to be a workout where your heart rate zone falls between 80 to 90% of your maximum heart rate. On a perceived exertion scale, the measurement would be between six and eight. This level of exercise feels challenging and leaves you too breathless to talk. However, you're still not going flat out, as you would if you were sprinting.

When it comes to weight loss, some high intensity cardio training can be of great benefit. It also helps to increase endurance and aerobic capacity. Aerobic capacity is the highest amount of oxygen consumed during maximal exercise using the large muscle groups in the arms and legs combined. That means you expand your body's capacity to use oxygen efficiently. Even though you gain benefit from high intensity cardio, there are also some risk factors that should be considered.

The Other Side of High Intensity Cardio Workouts

We've talked a bit about overuse injury; another facet is overtraining which leads to burnout. When you're burned out, your drive to exercise is diminished considerably and workouts become inconsistent. You could even grow to hate exercise because of the pain associated with it. Your body can become accustomed to the intense level of training and stop responding in a positive way and you will plateau - in spite of the hard workouts.

Top this information with the fact that if you are not properly conditioned for high intensity workouts, or if you don't have much experience with exercise, you may be setting yourself up for a letdown. Of course, if there is a medical condition to consider, then high intensity cardio workouts should be approved by the doctor before embarking upon them.

Balance is Best

If you are using cardio as a method of weight loss, the recommendation is usually for several workouts per week. It is wise to do one or two high intensity cardio workouts during that period, mixing them with other types of training to ensure a balanced use of energy stores. Mixing your workouts with various intensities and styles also helps to prevent injury and boredom.

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