Any person trying to figure out a good workout for his or herself needs to first research what type of workout works best and how to work out properly, and then plan out a daily and weekly schedule for it. One aspect of a workout plan is what type of workout you want to do: there is weight training, swimming, sprinting, jogging, and various types of cardio. But no one can do every type of workout regularly: so you have to figure out what works best for you. One aspect of any workout is cardio, which is traditionally very important in a workout plan. However, there are varying degrees of cardio and if you workout too lightly or improperly, the cardio will not work.
First of all, you have to know what cardio is. Also called aerobic exercise, it’s any exercise that improves your lung capacity and works out your heart. Often cardio, or cardiovascular exercise, is performed at moderate intensity for long periods of time. For example, lap swimming, running, elliptical trainers, bicycling, and more are all types of cardio. These all improve your overall fitness, stamina, and health. However, there are more helpful types of cardio as well. Another option is cardiovascular weight training.
Most do not consider lifting weights to be beneficial cardiovascular exercise. However, if you do the right exercises, you can combine cardio and weight training. The main difference between traditional weight training and cardio weight training is lifting more reps at faster speeds, but using lighter weights. As a rule of thumb, take 65% of your max and lift that repeatedly, getting your lungs and heart pumping away. Some examples of weight cardio you can do are dead lifts, dumbbells, and barbells. Take a percentage of your maximum—it does not have to be 65%, whatever you’re comfortable with—and lift quickly for about ten minutes. This type of exercise is healthy not only for your lungs and heart, but it builds muscle mass as well.
One of the major problems with most aerobic workouts is the neglect that the upper body and muscle strength gets. Running, swimming, and biking are all great for your health and fitness, but not working out your core and arms is problematic: it leads to an imbalance of power between your legs and upper body, and makes you much more prone to injury, including pulled muscles, torn ligaments, and broken bones.
Another problem with cardio training is that the main benefit’s to keep people in shape. Unlike weight training, aerobic exercise is not very effective at reducing obesity. It does not burn as many calories overall, and does not build as much muscle. Therefore, if your primary goal is to burn fat, get thinner, and have a better physique, standard cardio may not be the way to go. However, if you can combine your weight training and cardio as detailed above, you can save time and workout your muscles, heart, and lungs all at the same time.
Besides weight training, the best cardiovascular workout overall is swimming. If you swim laps for an hour a day as well as lift weights for the same amount of time, your muscles will get two types of workout: stamina and dead strength. Swimming, unlike running and biking, works out almost every muscle in your body and is a great addition to any workout. It also greatly increases your lung capacity which is a key for performing well in sports as well as healthy living. Overall, however, weight cardio is the best way to get a good workout of your whole body.
Dr. Michael Allen
Fitness Instructor & Fat Loss Factor Founder