One of the top questions I receive is "What should I do for my cardio workout plan?" I usually answer with a question; "What do you enjoy doing for your cardio workout?"
It does not matter so much what you do for cardio. It's doing what you enjoy. If I suggest you run 3-10 minute miles for your cardio workout plan and you have never ran in your life or you hate running, how successful is that plan?
Let's cover a few of the basics:
o Low intensity-is working at around the 60% range of your target heart rate. 220 – 40 = 180 (maximum heart rate). 180 x 60% = 108 beats per minute.
o Low intensity is easy to do so you can workout longer and a great idea for someone beginning a cardio workout plan.
o Low intensity is low risk. Most anyone can start a low intensity workout plan
o Low intensity is burns a higher percentage of calories from fat.
You just stopped at fat burning and have decided on low intensity did not you? Let's take a look at high intensity cardio.
o High intensity would be working at around 75-85% of your maximum heart rate. Using the same calculations above a 40 year old would have a range of 135-153 beats per minute
o High intensity cardio continues to burn calories at a higher rate long after you have completed your workout.
o You will burn more calories faster. You can walk 1 mile in 20 minutes and burn 100 calories or you can run a mile in 10 minutes and burn 100 calories.
o High intensity can increase muscle mass. Look at the difference in sprinters and marathon runners.
Here's the question to ask yourself; What if I do both? Hmmm … could that possibly work? Sure, it's called interval training. You work at a moderate pace for 3-5 minutes, depending on your level of fitness, and then work at a high intensity for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Work at a 5/1 minute ratio. If you are starting at an intermediate level you could work at a 3/1 minute ratio.
There are several ways you can set up your interval cardio workout plan. I will use a treadmill workout for an example since since treadmill has a timer and is very versatile. Always take about 5 minutes to warm up first.
Walking / Beginner-After your warm up walk briskly for 3-5 minutes and then jog lightly for 1 minute. As your fitness level increases you can shorten the walk to 3 minutes. Repeat your intervals until you have reached your goal mileage or time.
Running / Intermediate-After your warm up run at a moderate pace for 3-5 minutes and then run full out for 1 minute. As your fitness level improves you will decrease your moderate time and even pick up the pace a little. Remember, the goal is your target heart rate.
You can use the same cardio workout plan with the elevation on your treadmill. On your one minute intervals or high intensity interval, increase the elevation as high as is safely possible for you.
I've used a treadmill for my example but you can use the same idea with running outside, an elliptical trainer, spin bike, bicycle, aerobic dancing; anything you like.
So my answer to, "what is the best cardio workout plan?" Do what you enjoy first of all and integrate interval training for a maximum fat burning cardio workout plan.