It's no secret that regular cardiovascular training is essential to a healthy lifestyle, but not many Americans participate in it. Of those that do exercise regularly, many are unaware of the body's response to the challenges and demands imposed on it by strenuous exercise. By better understanding these concepts and making some simple adjustments to your exercise routine, you can make the most of your gym time and get the results you desire more quickly.
Although you burn the same amount of calories wherever you walk a mile or run a mile, it is important to note that you burn more fat calories and experience greater cardiovascular benefits running than you do walking the same distance. At the gym, I see many people jogging / cycling at a quick, steady pace for the entire duration of their workout. Studies have shown, however, that High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) burns more body fat than the same amount of exercise done at a steady pace. To perform HIIT properly, cycle one to two minute burst of fast paced exercise with thirty second to one minute rest periods during which the pace of the exercise is of a moderate, less taxing pace. An example would be to run at a pace of 8 mph for one minute followed by a 30 second jog at 5 mph and continuing the pattern for 20 to 30 minutes.
The duration of your cardio workouts will also have a noticeable impact on your physique. Take a look at the visible differences between marathon runners and Olympic sprinters. Both athletes are lean, but the long distance competitors are generally less muscular than their short distance counterparts. One reason for this is the breakdown of muscle tissue initiated by endurance training, referred to as "catabolism" by physiologists. To prevent loss of muscle tissue, keep your cardio sessions under 30 minutes long.
Additionally, the timing of your workout routine can make or break an effective cardiovascular training program if one of your goals is to control body fat. A common mistake that some individuals make is that they wait until they have had a meal or two before they get a cardio session in. Instead, try getting to the gym early, before breakfast. Exercising prior to the first meal of the day will more effectively target your fat stores and assist you in your goal to get / stay lean as efficiently as possible.
Finally, if you do not already incorporate resistance training into your fitness regimen, seriously considering doing so. A grueling weight training session can burn more calories than cardiovascular exercise during the same period of time, especially if done as part of a circuit. An added benefit to using weights at the gym is that it decrees the likelihood of muscle catabolism even if done for periods longer than 30 minutes. Of course, if you are currently unfamiliar with how best to implement strength training into your exercise plan, contact a knowledgeable trainer at your gym before you begin.
Try adding one of these techniques to your regular workout schedule each week for one month and I guarantee you will experience better health and more rapid results in the gym at the end of that time!