cardio exerciseThe majority of people fill up the cardio machines or get their exercise jogging outdoors. Cardio is a big thing this time of year. Although it’s only a part of the solution to losing weight, many people are not quite sure what to do when it comes to doing cardio. 

It seems simple enough. Run, jog, walk, bike, or swim for a set period of time and your done. That sounds good for general fitness. But if you really want to utilize cardio for weight loss, you need to think it a few steps further.

Calories-A measure of energy

The Law of Thermogenics states that if (calories in < calories out), you will lose weight no matter what. That doesn’t mean to starve yourself and workout more though. Use the calorie calculator under the links section to figure out what your daily calorie intake should be. This will give you what your body needs per day to maintain the same weight. Now since a pound of fat equals to about 3500 calories, you need to create a deficit of 500 calories per day to equal about a pound lost per week. It’s not always that simple though, a lot of it has to do with our next topic.

Metabolism-The body’s way of converting food to energy

Food is obviously our body’s source of energy. Our metabolism determines how fast the nutrients are used in our bodies. This is different for everyone obviously because of genetics. A great way to get your metabolism going is to eat 6 to 7 small meals a day. This helps keep the fire going, you want your body to be constantly burning food. Of course you would be eating small portions each meal, staying in range of your daily calorie needs.

Target Heart Range-Percentage range of your maximum heart rate

How do you know if you have been working out hard enough? The answer is to keep your heart rate up in a certain range. This is your Target Heart Range and is calculated by taking a percentage of your Maximum Heart Rate.

To calculate your Maximum Heart Rate (the highest number of times your heart can contract in a minute), you would use this formula (220-age=MHR).

To calculate the THR, you would need to use this formula (MHR x Percentage Level). There are 3 levels your THR can fall under. The first level is usually good for warm ups/cool downs and beginners. The percentage range is between 50-65%. The second level is your medium range and is what most people will stay in. This range is about 66-75%. The third level is the highest level and is what really gets your heart going. This level is around 76-85%.

So if I wanted to really get my heart rate up and use level 3, I would do this.

220-27=193 MHR
So my target heart range for level 3 is 147-164

Utilizing THR

There are many ways you can use these levels. One of which is just to pick a level and try to maintain it. That’s not a bad way to do it, but you also have to consider the fact that your body will adjust to anything after a certain amount of time. 

So trick up your body with something like this.
Warm up-5 min in level 1
2 min jog in level 2
1 min sprint in level 3
2 min jog in level 2
1 min sprint in level 3
2 min jog in level 2
1 min sprint in level 3
Cool down-5 min in level 1

This is what’s called High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT, and can be done on pretty much any cardio machine.

Studies have shown that doing low impact cardio or staying in the fat burning zone, does not really do much for those who are trying to lose weight. The main source for energy at this level is fat, but overall calorie expenditure is what counts at the end. You would not burn as many calories if you stayed in level 1, as compared to switching up the levels like the example above. Also HIIT increases your resting metabolic rate hours after your workout, this is because your body consumes more oxygen to help recover from this type of exercise. So your body is essentially burning more calories after you step off that treadmill. And the best part is that you would not have to waste a lot of time doing it. 15-20 min of HIIT is more beneficial than 45 min on a machine staying in one level.

Try to focus on changing the times spend in each level after a few weeks. This will help keep things interesting and fresh. 

Hopefully this will help all of you get closer to you goals!

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