Conditioning is a really broad term in the Fitness Industry. It's usually referred to as "Cardio" when we relate to anything that increases your heart rate. In this Lifestyle Blog Post, I want to go over a few general concepts in regards to Conditioning that may help give you some clarity on this broad topic. I want to discuss what type of cardiovascular training you should be doing, what you should not be focusing on as the primary goal, and how to track your training intensity.
Focus on Aerobic Conditioning
There are different forms of conditioning that train different levels of fitness. In general, for health related purposes, you will most likely get the most from Aerobic Conditioning. This is performed at heart rates between 120-150 bpm. You can perform these bouts anywhere from 10-60 minutes at a time and use various equipment too. This type of training is great for building a healthy heart and increasing blood flow. Again, in speaking of means of general conditioning, I prefer to not have the popular style HIIT Conditioning Methods to be your main source of conditioning. These protocols are actually very taxing to your body and you'd probably be better off lifting more weights instead of utilizing this method of conditioning. Yes, HIIT style training is great to save time and burn calories, but so does lifting weights.
Do Not Use Conditioning as Sole Means to Fat Loss
Can cardiovascular training be a way of burning more daily calories? Sure! Lower intensity aerobic training will allow you to burn calories at a faster rate in that time period of work, but when the session is done and you return to resting heart rates, you're calorie consumption will go back to normal. Therefore, people believe HIIT style training is so much more superior to low intensity work because you will be able to burn more calories after training is done. This is because of the higher metabolic stress rates. And guess what, a hard session of lifting weights will do the same thing...With HIIT you may be lucky to train hard enough to get 24 hours post workout of an uptake of calorie burning. But lifting can be up to 48 hours post workout. This is a process where your body is consuming more oxygen to recover from training and you get to burn more calories after these workouts.
So to wrap this point up, you can use Aerobic Training to help put you into a calorie deficit if needed, but don't depend on it to do all of the magic. Lifting weights is far more efficient at burning away body fat. Instead, focus on Aerobic Training being the primary need to build a health heart and increase blood flow. This will also help improve your performance in basically anything physically active that you do! It's called improving your fitness levels...Also, next time you see a fitness article telling you how HIIT workouts are the second coming of Jesus, just remember, you could spend extra time lifting weights to get more bang for your buck than crushing your lungs. In reality, the majority of individuals will never actually be prepared to handle HIIT style workouts when they begin them anyways. That's another topic for another day...
Use a Heart Rate Monitor
When I talked about Aerobic Conditioning, I mentioned that your heart rate should be between 120-150 bpm generally speaking. You only truly know if you're in this zone if you're using some sort of heart rate monitor. It's like Bench Pressing and you don't know how much weight is on the bar. This is your intensity of your Cardiovascular Training. If you don't know your heart rate, then you're just guessing on what you're doing. It's easy to go too hard and too easy. If you're like me, cardio isn't my number one choice of training, so when I do it, I want to make sure that I'm actually getting what I need out of it!
As I mentioned above, Cardiovascular Training is a very broad topic. We didn't even scratch the surface of it in this Lifestyle Blog Post. I just wanted to touch on a couple common topics that I see often in hopes to clear up some confusion you may have previously encountered. Remember, when it comes to your conditioning work, focus on Aerobic Conditioning Methods to help create a healthier/stronger heart and to improve your blood flow. Added benefits will be extra calorie burning, but you shouldn't rely strictly on conditioning to get yourself into a calorie deficit to burn away body fat. And when performing your conditioning work, get used to always wearing a heart rate monitor to see what intensity you're actually operating at.
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Physical Prep Coach & Owner of Joel Younkins Training.