What is cardio?
Cardio training (from the Greek. " Cardio ", heart) is the performance of physical exercises that increase the heart rate. In fact, with cardio, the body works in an aerobic mode and consumes more oxygen. Types of cardio training are running, brisk walking, cycling or swimming, as well as jumping rope. In addition, strength training can also be conducted in cardio mode.
Since during the cardio workout the body needs additional energy to work, it is traditionally believed that cardio is the best way to lose weight and quickly burn fat. However, most people are sure that the more sweat is released during cardio training, the higher its effectiveness. However, this opinion is nothing more than a common myth.
In reality, the effectiveness of cardio is determined by the heart rate and the total duration of the training. For weight loss, it is usually necessary to be in the fat-burning zone of the pulse , exercising at least 2-3 times a week for 30-40 minutes. It is from this, ultimately, how many calories (and, ultimately, fat) will be burned will depend.
The mechanism by which regular cardio leads to weight loss does not lie in the instant burning of calories from internal fat stores, but in the gradual development of the body’s ability to form reserves of rapidly available energy in the muscles to perform physical exercises. In fact, cardio training changes the human metabolism.
In simple words, with cardio the body learns to use carbohydrates better. Excess calories begin to be stored in the form of glycogen in the muscles, and not in the form of fat on the stomach. At the same time, losing weight is part of the recovery period after training, achieved only in the case of a general lack of calories in food. And that is why a diet for weight loss is always more important than training.
The benefits of cardio for weight loss:
- Increase basic metabolism
- Improve blood circulation in tissues
- Improve glucose metabolism and normalize appetite
- Normalize insulin and cholesterol levels
Cardio and Calorie Costs
To burn calories (more precisely, to force the body to use the stores of fat as fuel), you must first empty the stores of carbohydrates stored in the muscles as glycogen . That is why cardio for weight loss should be either long (at least 30-40 minutes), or should be performed immediately after active strength training, when the blood sugar level is minimal.
Another type of effective training for burning fat is HIIT interval training, but this type of training is more suitable for professional athletes than ordinary people who want to lose a few pounds. In their case, prolonged cardio training of moderate intensity will be best.
|Cardio Type||Calories burned in 30 min, kcal|
|Weight 55 kg||Weight 70 kg||Weight 85 kg|
|Active strength training||180||223||266|
|Speed exercise bike||315||391||466|
|Running at 10 km / h||375||465||555|
The Importance of Slimming Diet
We also note that it is necessary to adequately assess calories burned during cardio workouts - often the figure is not as large as it seems. In fact, one can of Coca-Cola is equivalent to 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity. In other words, it’s much easier to control the excess calories in food than trying to burn these same calories in the gym.
Among other things, the glycemic index of food consumed plays a key role. The use of fast carbohydrates with high GI provokes the appearance of a “fake” feeling of hunger caused by changes in insulin in the blood. It is in this that the harm of sugar, sweets, and pastries lies - and not at all in the calorie content. Plus cardio is that regular workouts normalize insulin production.
Is jogging the best cardio for weight loss?
It is traditionally believed that jogging is the best example of cardio for weight loss and quick fat burning. Unfortunately, newcomers often do not have the slightest understanding of how to run correctly. In fact, how a person learns to swim, he must also learn and run. Running with the wrong technique and in unsuitable shoes (especially with flat feet) can easily cause serious knee injury.
At the same time, running is categorically not recommended for people with a high body mass index and obesity, since shock loads extremely negatively affect their knee and hip joints, provoking the development of chronic pain. For weight loss with a large amount of excess weight, such types of cardio as an exercise bike, walking on an ellipsoid or swimming are preferable.
The benefits of running
Notwithstanding the above, following the correct technique, running is an excellent type of cardio for burning fat. In fact, when running, it’s easy enough to adjust the effectiveness of the workout and heart rate, accelerating or slowing down. Also, this type of cardio normalizes the functioning of the brain and increases the production of endorphins, helping in the treatment of depression and in the fight against various addictions.
Outdoor jogging is especially helpful. There are scientific studies suggesting that when inhaling the scents of the forest, the human body receives an analgesic effect. The reason lies in the fact that the leaves and trunks of fallen trees produce and emit molecules into the air that inhibit the decomposition of these trees themselves. Apparently, such molecules have a relaxing effect on people³.
Cardio training program
The main thing in the cardio training program is not its compilation at all, but the fixing of results. You should write in the training diary how many times a week you performed cardio (if you combine several activities, indicate which type of cardio), how long each training session lasted, what was your average heart rate and how you felt as a result.
The best cardio training program for losing weight and burning fat is 2-4 workouts on a treadmill, ellipsoid or on a stationary bike per week. The duration of each is from 30 to 50 minutes, the average heart rate is not higher than 120-130 beats. In the presence of a daily calorie deficit of 300-400 kcal, this cardio regimen will make it easy to lose 2-3 kg per month.
An example of a cardio training program:
- Monday: 20 minutes sailing at speed
- Tuesday: 20 minutes of leisurely running
- Wednesday: rest
- Thursday: 30 minutes sailing technique
- Friday: 15 minutes of interval running
- Saturday: rest
- Sunday: 40 minutes on an ellipsoid with a pulse of 150-170 beats per minute
The combination of cardio and weight training
In fact, cardio before strength training is an important part of a warm-up, as it is necessary both to prepare the body for stress in general, and to increase blood flow activity and increase temperature in particular. A proper workout should always include 5-10 minutes of light cardio workouts with a pulse of 120-140 beats per minute.
However, cardio performed after strength training will negatively affect the effectiveness of the main training - despite the fact that fat burning processes are activated, at the same time, the level of the stress hormone cortisol, which destroys muscles, will increase. In addition, it is the high level of cortisol that is responsible for the accumulation of excess fat on the stomach.
Cardio training, stimulating the cardiovascular system, is necessary both as a warm-up before power loads, and to normalize the mechanisms of using sugar as a source of nutrition for the body - this is important for activating the processes of burning fat. The heart rate should not exceed 150 beats per minute.
- Calories burned in 30 minutes for people of three different weights, source
- The effects of regular physical activity on anxiety symptoms in healthy older adults, source
- Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing) and Nature Therapy: A State-of-the-Art Review, source