The Best Cardio Workout For You!
The best cardio workout for you is the form of aerobic exercise that can help you achieve your weight loss goal as quickly as possible. Of course, the best aerobic exercise will be different for everyone and there are several criteria that you need to examine in order to determine the best one for you.
Here are the criteria for determining the best cardio workout for you:
Now let's examine each of these points individually and provide some possible cardio workout options for you to choose from.
The intensity of effort
It is amazing how many people 'exercise' in vain on a daily basis thinking that they're going to get results. For example, how many people do you see sitting on a recumbent bike (the bikes with the back rest and pedals at the front) reading a book or magazine? Perhaps it's the people going for a leisurely walk having a chat the whole way.
There is a big difference between 'exercise' and 'activity' and this concept is discussed in more detail in another article titled: The Benefits of Regular Exercise.
Whilst the efforts of these people are noble, their results are dismal! The simple fact is that if they really want to get results they have to put in the effort; there is simply no other way! When it comes to burning off body fat the only way to do it is by putting in effort and this means increasing the intensity of effort!
Low-intensity exercise doesn't burn many calories above the basal level (what your body burns at rest), so going for a leisurely walk or pedaling at a slow pace on a bike is not really going to make any difference at all. The exception to this is when people first start out. In that case it is essential that the intensity is low. However, after a period of time it needs to be increased.
You even see marketers promoting vibration machines that claim to be as effective as exercising in a gym! What a load of rubbish! They are just preying on gullible, lazy people who don't want to exercise and are sucking them in by the truck-load by telling them a pack of downright lies!
Whilst these machines may assist lymphatic drainage and therefore if you retain heaps of fluid they may help you get rid of the extra fluid they certain DO NOT burn fat!
If you are serious about getting results you must get your heart rate up to at least 60% of your maximum heart rate (ideally closer to 80%).
You've probably heard that exercising at 60-80% of your maximum heart rate means that you're working within your 'fat-burning zone'.
Unfortunately though, the 'fat-burning zone' is a myth when it comes to the total amount of fat that you burn during the session. Even though the proportion of fat may be higher than carbohydrate (or protein), the total amount is actually less.
Therefore, the best cardio workout means you exercise as hard as you can! For many people this means you exercise at a high level of intensity for the entire session and for other it means you need to make it an interval training session, which is much more manageable for most people.
Interval training is a form of exercise whereby periods of high intensity are alternated with periods of low intensity. This form of exercise is proven to be a very effective way to burn off body fat and is far more effective than standard, steady-state exercise. Either way, high intensity exercise is the best cardio workout when it comes to getting results.
Think for a moment about the body types of elite-level sprinters. Most of them look like an anatomy chart! Their muscles are so defined and their body fat levels are so low as a result of their intense training and their strict eating regime.
Therefore, if we want to get results even partially resembling what they achieve then we should serious considering training in a similar fashion and that is with high intensity exercise!
Risk of injury or aggravation of pre-existing injuries
The best cardio workout should not cause you injury or aggravate any pre-existing injuries you currently have.
It may be worthwhile going to your doctor first before embarking on an exercise program if you haven't started one already. They will be able to give you advice on what is the best aerobic exercise for you based on any pre-existing injuries you have.
However, doctors aren't always the best people to speak to regarding exercise recommendations and often their blanket recommendations of, 'just go for a walk' or 'just stick to very light weights' is often given to everyone because they don't have any knowledge or experience in that area!
The best way to judge whether a particular form of exercise is right for you or not is to try it! So long as you've had a general health check and there is no obvious risk involved, like jumping into the octagon with a professional mixed martial arts fighter, it should be fine to give it a go.
When you begin, remain very conscious of how you are feeling. Monitor your body movements, be aware of how your joints are feeling and make sure you don't get any extreme burning in the muscles (from the accumulation of lactic acid).
Lactic acid accumulation during the session
The best cardio workout is meant to be aerobic (with oxygen). If you start getting burning in the muscles from the accumulation of lactic acid then this means that the exercise is becoming anaerobic (without oxygen).
Of course, you want to work as hard as possible, as we previously discussed, but without the accumulation of lactic acid. Therefore, if you start feeling a burning sensation in the muscles back off a bit so you lower the intensity slightly. This should help to get more oxygen to the working muscles so your body can then break down the lactic acid.
Muscle groups being worked
The best cardio workout for you should involve working the largest muscle groups of the body. The largest muscle groups are the hips, thighs, back, chest and abdominals.
By making sure that the exercise you choose to perform involves one or several of these muscles groups will help you burn off the maximum amount of calories (energy) during the session and therefore the maximum amount of fat too.
Enjoyment of the exercise
Probably the most important factor when it comes to selecting the best cardio workout for you is to make sure you enjoy the exercise session! This will ensure you make it a permanent part of your lifestyle and therefore will help you maintain the results you achieve.
The best ways to ensure that you enjoy the exercise is to consider the following:
Personally, I have 4 different types of exercise that I do during the week. I like to have variety in my exercise session and find that it keeps me motivated and looking forward to most sessions (I do have my unmotivated days though!).
The four types of cardio that I do are: boxing (2-3 times a week), running around a park (1-2 times a week), running on a treadmill after a weight session (2-3 times a week) and doing 'Jacob's Ladder' once or twice on the weekend.
The boxing is the best cardio workout for me but I do like to have the variety. I have a few mates that get involved in mixed martial arts and particularly Brazilian Jui Jitsu but the thought of wrestling on the ground with another sweaty guy doesn't really appeal to me! Each to their own I guess!
I find running up and down Jacob's Ladder quite challenging. It is located in Perth just next to Kings Park and is a series of 241 steps (a mate counted them when he did it with us one day).
The running sessions either around the park or on the treadmill are at a reasonable level of intensity but I find that they are good times for me to 'zone out'; just to relax, think about what I have planned for the day, what needs to be done, etc.
After I train legs at the gym I will go on the recumbent bike instead of the treadmill because I'm a bit unsteady on my feet. When I do that I will generally listen to my ipod or mp3 player that has various podcasts either on health and fitness topics or internet marketing stuff.
Some people enjoy group cardio sessions and find them to be the best cardio workouts for them because of the music and the various types of exercise they do, i.e. dancing, combat, etc. Furthermore, I know some people who enjoy ballroom dancing a few times a week.
At the end of the day, the best cardio workout for you is one that you actually do! You can't get results if you don't do the exercise so no matter what the best cardio workout for you is, the most important factor is that you do it!
I understand that for many people getting started is always tough. We call it the 'Comfy Bed Syndrome'- It's easy to get into but hard to get out of! (a comfy bed is similar to not exercising).
The best thing to do is to start! Do something, anything! Choose an exercise you enjoy and get stuck into it! Good luck!
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