In my last article I spoke a lot about women`s strength training and specific exercises that will target areas on the body which might be in need of some work to create "˜tone`, a term used when somebody has low body fat levels alongside some muscle.
To support the weight training (which is vital) I do always recommend cardio training in my clients routines, be that low or high intensity, playing a sport, or just going for a long walk, they all have value. The word cardio usually gets people thinking about a treadmill or cross trainer sat in the corner of the gym, but it accounts for a lot more than what you think. Cardio actually means any exercise that raises the heart rate, but because of the old stigma of lifting light weights or at least lifting them without any real intent, weight training isn`t thought about it as cardio, but it should.
For the sake of this article I am going to leave weight lifting and focus solely on which type of activity/cardio I prescribe that can be done away from the weights area or even gym, and also which one will burn the most body fat. I like to break down cardio into low intensity and high intensity training, basically whether you want to work your heart hard and get it beating fast, or using it at a slow constant rhythm but raising it higher than it would be at standstill.
Low intensity cardio
First of all I want to explain that with fat loss, as we`ve spoke about before, calories burned is the most important thing you should be looking to do. With low intensity cardio (think long walks) your heart rate won`t climb as high as it will if you were to say, go sprinting, but unlike sprinting you can perform the low longer endurance style of exercise for a sustained period of time, meaning you stretch that calorie burn out over a possible hour, or even further.
High intensity cardio
A lot of exercise can be put into a high intensity cardio bracket, think any exercise where it`s harder to breathe or keep a sentence together with your friend. These cardio sessions not only burn a lot more calories than a standard slow walk, but they also get you fitter in the meantime, and they are my preferred option to train. The downside to this type of training though is you obviously have to push yourself and get into that uncomfortable zone to really get the heart rate high.
Example high and low intensity sessions
Bike sprints in the gym: perform 30 seconds at a hard level and go as fast as you can, once the 30 seconds is up then rest for one minute, then repeat this 6-10 times. If you are a beginner then start at the lower end around 6 repetitions.
Inclined treadmill or outdoor walk: perform steady but brisk walk at a constant pace for 45 minutes or more.
So if you are wondering which is best for you"¦it really doesn`t matter, unless you are aiming to get fit as possible in the meantime or depending how long you have to work out. The only thing you need to remember is the low intensity session needs to be at least double the amount of time to burn the same calories as the high intensity, for example the high intensity option would be 25 minutes, and the low intensity option would be 50 minutes.
If you are looking to weight train and tone then weight training should make up the majority of your weekly workouts and if you have any other time to train after completing 3-4 lifting sessions, this is when cardio training should be looked upon.