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Cardio 101: Endurance, Intervals, Fitness

Variety is the spice the life, and your cardio workouts, which hopefully are a part of your regular life, are no different. Spinning your wheels at the exact same speed each workout is not only boring for your mind, but your body as well. As your body acclimates to your workout, you begin to plateau — meaning you're not challenging yourself as much as you could, and you're not burning as many calories as you could be. All that wasted potential . . .

Don't waste your time on a single track cardio plan; your aerobic life plan should be a mix of endurance, fitness, and interval training. You shouldn't just hop on the elliptical or hit the streets and do the same routine every session — you need to mix it up. Here are three types of workouts you should include in your cardio life.

  • Endurance: Maintaining a steady and somewhat slower pace for a longer duration is an endurance workout. Aim to work out for at least 40 to 60 minutes maintaining a target heart rate of 60-70 percent of your max (check my calculator to learn your max heart rate). This type of workout is good for burning both fat and calories. Endurance workouts are great for "recovery" workout, the day after an intense workout. Try running on flat ground for at least 40 minutes at a nice steady pace. Add five minutes on to your run each week until you're running for a full hour.

To see the other two, just read more.

  • Fitness: Short and intense workouts to increase cardiovascular fitness are fitness workouts. For these workouts you work at a consistent and intense pace for a short period of time. Keep your heart rate between 75 and 85 percent of your max for 20 minutes. A tempo run is a great example of this kind of workout. You will burn the maximum number of calories in a shorter period of time. Doing just this type of workout can lead to injury, since you are pushing your body, heart, joints, and muscles beyond your comfort zone. Once you have warmed up, put the speed of the treadmill a couple of notches past your comfort zone and run for 20 minutes. Don't forget to cool down.
  • Interval: I love interval training since it is a blend of both endurance and fitness training. It challenges the cardiovascular system by alternating intensities. It also increases your metabolism and will burn calories and fat. Here is a challenging interval workout: interval sprints on treadmill.

No matter what type of cardio you fancy, these three types of workouts can and should be included in your workouts from biking to running, from swimming to rowing. So which type of training is your favorite and which do you need to do more of? Tell me in the comment section below.

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