4 Cardio Tips to Get You in Shape Fast

Every home gym should include some type of cardiovascular equipment unless, of course, you get your cardio workout through outdoor activities.

Cardiovascular fitness is achieved through aerobic training, which is defined as any exercise that requires increased oxygen consumption within the body. Below are some simple tips to achieve cardiovascular fitness through aerobic exercise.

1. Frequency

You should do some form of aerobic activity at least three times a week for at least 30 minutes per session. In a perfect world, you’ll be able to do five 30 minute sessions a week, but remember that doing something is always better than doing nothing at all. So, even if you only get to do 10 or 15 minutes a day, it’s always better than skipping your workout altogether.

2. Intensity

Your cardiovascular workouts should be done with enough intensity to keep your heart rate in your “fat burning zone”. This is the number of times your heart should beat in one minute to most efficiently provide your muscles with adequate amounts of oxygen rich blood. The fat burning zone is determined by your age and this standard formula:

220 – (your age) x (.75) = Your Fat Burning Zone

For example, a 40 year old man or woman’s fat burning zone would be calculated as follows:
220 – 40 = (180) x (.75) = 135

According to this formula, a 40 year old person’s heart should beat about 135 times every minute to stay in his/her fat burning zone during exercise. This target heart rate can be monitored using the hear rate monitors that are included on many of the home gym cardiovascular training machines.

3. Variety

If you want to get the most out of your cardiovascular training program, you should try to use several different forms of aerobic exercise. By varying your aerobic routine, you’ll avoid overuse injuries, delay or avoid training plateaus and you’ll avoid boredom.

“Variety in cardiovascular training is one of the key ingredients to a long-term successful training plan.”

4. Have Fun

I don’t care how good your intentions are, if you’re not having fun or looking forward to your next workout, you won’t stick to a program in the long run. Don’t go buy a treadmill if you hate walking or running. Don’t use indoor equipment if you love the outdoors. Don’t ride a stationary bike if it hurts your knees…you get my point here, right?

You can get your aerobic activity in the form of anything from house cleaning to speed skating, so don’t force yourself to do something you hate. Workouts should be a highlight in your day, not a time you dread until it’s over.

Cardio Tips & Tricks for Fat Loss

Tom Venuto is an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist, lifetime natural bodybuilder, freelance writer, and personal coach. Today, I interview Tom about how we can get more fat loss results in less training time.

Craig B.: Tom, you’ve written about the “Risk to benefit ratios of extreme and controversial fat loss techniques”. Have your thoughts changed on any of the rankings since you wrote that article?

Tom Venuto:
That article pretty much sums up my current thoughts about fat loss. The article looked at techniques for fat loss that are controversial, like not eating for 2-3 hours before going to bed or not eating carbs after a certain time of day, or doing early morning cardio on an empty stomach. Some experts recommend these methods; others strongly recommend avoiding them. Some say they work well; others say they don’t work at all.

The main message I wanted to get across is that when you generalize by saying things like, “This technique is good”, “that technique is bad”, or “never do this,” “always do that,” you’re limiting yourself. I believe in the philosophy that the person who has the most flexibility and the most choices is the person with the most power to get results and to break past barriers (which unfortunately, are often self-imposed by all or none thinking).

Instead of making generalizations, I prefer to approach training and nutrition from the viewpoint of personalization and risks versus benefits. If you think about it, all exercise has risks. Squatting has risks. Running has risks. Competing in sports has risks. You can’t avoid risks. Heck, being alive has risks! The idea is to manage risks, not to try and eliminate them.

Take fasted cardio in the morning for example. Are there risks in using this technique in an attempt to accelerate fat loss? Yes, absolutely. Cortisol is higher in the morning, so you are more catabolic and you might lose muscle. Does that mean there are no benefits and you should never use this technique? Not necessarily. Does doing cardio on an empty stomach guarantee you’re going to lose muscle? No, it only increases the possibility. Yet many trainers, strength coaches, athletes and bodybuilders approach techniques like these with “It’s good” or “It’s bad” with no shades of grey in between.

The truth is, the value of each technique depends very much on the context. I remember reading something Charles Poliquin wrote about how ridiculous it was to think about his “manly men” athletes (as he called them), such as a 6 foot 5 inch 250 pound hockey player, doing any kind of conventional “aerobics.” That makes complete sense to me – in that context. If the athlete shows up after the off season carrying some undesired body fat, that weight can easily be shed with strength training and nutrition. Combine that with energy expended from practice time and no aerobics are necessary.

But does that mean “All aerobics are bad” or “Cardio is completely worthless.” Well, again, it depends on the context. Bad or worthless when? How much? How intense? What kind? Under what circumstances? And for whom? Are we talking about a 55 year old sedentary woman with 35% body fat, an elite shot putter or a bodybuilder six weeks out from a competition?

I think these rigid all or none beliefs get formed gradually over a whole lifetime of experiences. We tend to collect our own personal biases and carry them along with us – I know I had to overcome my “pure bodybuilder” mentality and develop more flexibility in my approaches in order to really serve my non-bodybuilder clients the best. I specialize in fat loss – including nutrition, exercise and the psychological/emotional aspects – and my personal interest is bodybuilding.

I don’t train people for sports, so I don’t have the perspective that most strength coaches do. Similarly, I imagine that many top strength coaches have developed an anti-cardio bias from their experience working with power, speed and strength athletes who have always been told that aerobics kills your strength, and perhaps they generalize their beliefs to apply to everyone.

Bottom line and the whole point of my article was that there are no absolutes, everything is context dependent.

CB: You rank “fasted cardio in the morning” as a high risk, high benefit activity for fat loss. Is this something that you use yourself or with clients?

Because it’s high risk, it’s not necessarily a fat loss technique I recommend for everyone all the time. But I’m not afraid to use it and I believe it has benefits that can outweigh the risks, depending on the circumstances. I usually do fasted cardio in the morning about 8-12 weeks before a competition. But it depends on my weekly results. If I’m losing fat quickly and easily, I don’t need to use any high-risk techniques. Sometimes I’ll still do cardio in the morning, because I like doing it then, but I’ll have a whey protein drink or even a whole meal shortly beforehand.

I like to have an enormous amount of flexibility in my approach. If there’s a plateau in fat loss, I want to be able to dig into my bag of tricks and have a lot of stuff in there to pull out when I need it. If you only have one way and you get stuck, you have a problem. I don’t like rigid formulas. I like freedom to choose my approach according to how things are going.

Muscle Building Cardio – Learn the Truth With These Muscle Building Cardio Tips

Many people are under the impression that cardio exercise should be banned from your life if you are trying to build muscle and put on weight. This is not always true, though, and there are some instances when cardio work can not only be harmless to your muscle development campaign, but can actually help you achieve your goals as well. View the muscle building cardio tips below to learn how it can work with your current routine to produce the greatest health benefits.

Should Cardio Ever Be Completely Avoided?

In some cases, it is absolutely true that this type of exercise should be completely avoided. One such instance is when you are new to building muscle. During the first 6-12 weeks of a routine, you should avoid doing any such exercises as you likely have no spare pounds to lose. As you begin to bulk up however, you can begin to add in a small amount of cardio each week.

When Can Cardio Work Help You?

Not all cardio exercise is bad for muscle growth. In fact, it can actually help your cause in some cases. One of the most important muscle building cardio tips is to learn how these types of exercises can help you meet your goals. For example, doing these types of exercises provide for greater blood flow throughout the body, which can help your muscles recuperate more quickly giving them a greater chance of growing more rapidly. Another benefit that it can provide is the ability to build endurance that will let you lift heavier weights for muscle development over time.

A Good Muscle Building Cardio Exercise Strategy

Although there are a number of ways that you can use cardio in your muscle growth routine, one of the best strategies involves including short bursts of strength training during a lower impact cardio exercise. While jogging at a slower rate, you can stop every few minutes and perform intense strength training moves for another minute or so. By mixing things up like this, you are actually allowing your body to build muscles more effectively.