Cardio, or aerobic training, comes from the Greek work kardia, which means heart. Few people would argue that the most important muscle in the body, is your heart. Despite that fact, the great big pendulum of fitness trends seem to have swung aerobic training out the door all the way in to the doghouse.
WHAT IS AEROBIC TRAINING?
Steady state training, endurance training, cardiovascular exercise or simply "cardio" are all different terminology used to define aerobic training. In other words, no one has or probably never will be able to decide on a final name or set a standardized definition of what this type of training actually means or should be called officially.
With that said, reading further in the text below, we will simply refer to and definite aerobic training as following; "aerobic training is any cyclic activity (e.g. running, rowing, biking) that is performed at a relatively steady state with intention to stress the cardiovascular system to varying intensities and durations. Aerobic training is using fat as a main source of energy, converted in to energy by oxygen".
Just to clarify; Aerobic training is different from anaerobic training, where often times it seems like you are trying to make your heart explode through your chest (working at relatively high intensity and for shorter duration). As mentioned, aerobic training is done at lower intensities (usually at heart rates of 110-150 bpm) and for longer duration (30+ minutes) to provide enough stimulus to make your heart a bigger, better pump.
So, the good news is that you don't need to train particularly hard to see benefits from aerobic training. This is one of the reasons why t's considered a great compliment to strength and high intensity training.
THE "QUICK FIX" FALLACY
Traditionally, aerobic training has been a strong staple in many people's weekly exercise routine. But it seems like during the past decade aerobic training has taken a hit and is blamed to muscle wasting, too time consuming and plain out boring by many people in the strength and gym community.
Instead, what is being preached by many as the "ultimate solution to superior fitness and health" is high intensity circuit training (e.g HIIT and CrossFit). The message claimed is that these often short duration, high intensity workouts is a "quick fix" for more or less everything (fat loss, muscle gain, improved endurance, etc) and sufficiently cover all areas of fitness - aerobic energy systems included.
Endurance specialists aside, with a society obsessed by time-saving "quick fixes" to fitness and health, it's easy to understand that longer duration activities such as aerobic training has taken a backseat among the general gym goers.
But reality is, no matter how much you love the challenge of a tough WOD or a quick 4-minute all-out workout, balance in training is key and nothing will stimulate your aerobic energy system like, you guessed it; aerobic training.
So, if the idea of 30+ minutes of aerobic training at a steady state on a single piece of equipment bores you to tears; try breaking it up in five-minute chunks. A very easy way to get through these sessions mentally is to do five minutes of rowing, jump on the bike for another five minutes, and then onto the treadmill for another five minutes and alternating back and forth in five-minute chunks without break until you’ve completed your session.
TIME & INTENSITY OF AEROBIC TRAINING
Aerobic training is different from HIIT, Tabata, CrossFit and other types of high intensity training styles (anaerobic training) that focus heavily on short, time saving workouts promising quick results. Instead, aerobic training requires that some actual time invested. For the cardiovascular system to get enough stimuli, 30 minutes should be considered an absolute minimum.
Naturally, with longer duration of training comes lower intensity. But intensity of aerobic training can never be generalized as a fixed rule that applies to everyone at all times. But to give an indication, you can look at two general measurables; one subjective and one objective.
Heart rate: an objective test that takes 180 - your age to give you an upper limit of a heart rate zone to follow. Depending on your age, this will vary but usually you will find aerobic training zones to be somewhere between 110-150 bpm. Read more about the Maffertone method.
"Talk test": a subjective way to look at the upper threshold of your aerobic training zone that you can do when training. This is done simply by testing your ability to string together a sentence without having to gasp for air. In other words, your aerobic energy system is still working effectively to supply your muscles with oxygen.
BENEFITS OF AEROBIC TRAINING
There is no doubt strength training is important and strength-endurance workouts (anaerobic training), e.g. HIIT and CrossFit, can be very effective, time-saving and fun. But without a well developed aerobic energy system (that you will get from aerobic training), you risk the fact of looking strong and fit on the outside while being powered by a Tuk-Tuk engine on the inside.
Benefits of aerobic training:
Increased endurance and stamina.
More fatigue-resistant muscles.
Better recovery between hard work sets of strength training.
Better recovery between workouts.
Lower blood pressure.
Better body composition.
Improved blood cholesterol.
Increased use of fatty acids as fuel.
Improved lung capacity.
In summary, aerobic training sets a foundation not only for your cardiovascular system but also for your strength or more HIIT-style workouts (assisting in recovery). Not to mention the other longterm health benefits it potentially brings. After all, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.
At HAUS No3 we recommend our guests to do 2-3 aerobic training sessions per week (30-90 minutes at 110-150 bpm) of more or less preferred activity (unless they have a specific goal; variety is also great).
WELCOME TO HAUS No3
We hope you found value in reading about the benefits of aerobic cardio and that you see the benefits it can have to your health and wellbeing. And since the aerobic system under pins all of your training, even for strength work only performed for seconds at a time, you don't have to be an aspiring Marathon runner to gain from building a strong heart and lungs.
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