As you probably already know, one of the best ways to lose unwanted weight & keep your heart healthy is doing cardio. You head into the gym and often notice that the cardio area is packed full of people using the many different types of cardio equipment at various speeds. Look even closer and you may see the person that is moving lightning fast on the treadmill, while the person next to them is moving much slower. Or maybe you see a person sprinting on the treadmill for about 30 seconds and then they slow down to jogging or almost walking pace for a bit, and then it’s back to the sprinting. You may look at all of this and just stand confused, but believe it or not, these people are doing what I call, “Cardio with a purpose!”
If you want to get the most out of your cardio, then you need to have a purpose in mind for doing it. In other words, do you just want to have a healthier heart and lose some unwanted belly fat? Maybe you are just doing cardio to train for an endurance event or road race. Or, you might be a solid performance athlete that just needs to focus on speed for a sprint type event. Believe it or not, all of these different goals require different paces for cardio. Now that you’ve sort of wrapped your mind around all that, let’s take a look at the different ‘training zones’ for cardio.
First we have the Healthy Heart Zone. This zone is done at the slow pace of 50 – 60% of your maximum heart rate (Mhr). If your goal is to decrease body fat, blood pressure and cholesterol than this may very well be the zone for you. The intensity and calorie burn isn’t quite as high as the next zone you’ll see, but this is a great stepping stone to work your way up to that next zone. The Healthy Heart Zone will also decrease the risk of degenerative diseases and has a very low risk of injury. So, if you are prone to injury or in a rehab phase this would be the recommended zone for you. This is also a great zone for people that are just starting into a fitness program, or just a great way for serious walkers to warm up. A final encouraging note about this zone is that 85% of calories burned here got toward burning fat!
The 2nd zone is the Fitness Zone, also known as the Fat Burning Zone. This zone is done at 60 – 70% of maximum heart rate (Mhr), which is a slightly faster pace than the Heart Healthy zone. You will get all of the same benefits in the fitness zone that you get from the hearth healthy zone, but due to the faster/more intense pace, you will burn more total calories and thus more fat. The percent of fat calories in this zone are still at 85% too.
The 3rd zone is the Aerobic Zone, also known as the Endurance Training Zone. This zone is done at 70 – 80% of maximum heart rate (Mhr), bringing up the intensity yet again from the fitness zone. Since you are picking up the pace the focus begins to focus a little bit more on improving your cardiovascular and respiratory system and a little bit less on the fat burning. It is just a great way to increase the size and strength of your heart. This is the recommended zone if you are training for an endurance event. In this zone more calories will be burned, but only 50% from fat.
The next zone is is the Anaerobic Zone, which is also known as the Performance Training Zone. This zone steps the intensity up to 80 – 90% of maximum heart rate (Mhr). Benefits of this zone include an improved VO2 maximum (the highest amount of oxygen one can consume during exercise) and thus an improved cardio-respiratory system, and a higher lactate tolerance ability which means your endurance will improve and you’ll be able to fight fatigue better. This is a high intensity zone where you will be burning more calories, but only 15% from fat.
Your final training level is the Red Line Zone, which also referred to as the Maximum Effort Zone. Here you are stepping it up the the very high intensity of 90 – 100% of maximum heart rate: Although this zone burns the highest number of calories, very few of the calories are burning fat. Most people can only stay in this zone for short periods. You should only train in this zone if you are in very good shape and have been cleared by a physician to do so.
Now that you know the five different ‘training levels’, it’s time for you to choose which one suits you based on your goals. Keeping your heart rate in check to your specific training level will definitely help you to achieve those goals and thus maximize not only your results, but your happiness and success with all your hard work. So, pick your training level, chose your cardio weapon (treadmill, elliptical, stair master, etc.) and go to battle for those killer results.
I hope this blog helped you to get a much better insight on what it looks like to do your "Cardio with a Purpose" and that it helps you to achieve your health/fitness goals much more quickly. Keep coming back to my website for more great blogs like this one. As always, I'll see YOU in the gym at JamesEllisFit.com
P.S. If fat burning and toning is what your goal is, then perhaps you should try out my GoodBoyFitness "HIIT Band Workouts" as they will be phenomenal in helping you to reach those goals. : )
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