We had a comprehensive post on the mostly- "cardio" component (which is ideally about 1/3 of a fitness/conditioning program) earlier this week. A few related points from a somewhat different point of view:
- High-intensity cardio training is more about building Athleticism rather than the General Fitness for Life that most people desire. We use the term Athleticism to refer to the high levels of general fitness. More hard core. Many of our fitness posts here tend to have Athleticism goals - but why not set high goals? High goals and failure build character, right? My Dad taught me that.
- Generally speaking, cardio training can refer to anything that elevates the heart rate above walking, whether for short bursts of max intensity or for an hour of, for example, jogging or a few hours of hill-hiking. It's all relative though, depending on one's level of conditioning. For some elderly or overweight, a 3-5 mile hike might count as cardio exercise. For many, a 10-mile hike or a 3-mile jog is pure recreation and not cardio exertion at all.
Much more on the topic, from my point of view, below the fold -
- HIIT is a series of quick anaerobic bursts (30-45 seconds, a minute at the very most) of maximum effort with intervals of active recovery or plain rests. It's a good idea for beginners to work on their endurance with jogging etc. before diving into high-intensity. HIIT is real athlete cardio training, stressful. High-intensity Cardio training entails pushing your heart rate to highest levels, working anaerobically for brief periods. It's about building heart strength, heart vasculature, and cardiovascular efficiency. An hour on a treadmill, bike, or swimming laps is still cardio training - it's cardio endurance training without stressing the muscles and heart to the max. It's fine to do but endurance is a different thing from intense cardio. However, regular HIIT will improve your endurance for your endurance activities of any sort if you want the challenge.
- To stress your heart to the max, you obviously have to use your body and muscles as vigorously as you can so intense cardio training is good for quick power, conditioning and muscle exhaustion, etc., so although it will not build much muscle strength and bone strength like resistance exercises, it can definitely help maintain muscle function.
My usual weekly cardio training -
- Not my training recommendation for readers, but what I have been advised to do at my point in training, and what I do, is about 1 1/2 hours of relatively-intense (for me) cardio training weekly (including the rest time). I do not count "long, slow" as cardio for myself. My annual cardiac stress tests shows levels of improvement that impress my docs. I'll probably drop from an MI some day, but whatever.
- On my "long, slow" day I will usually throw in 10 minutes of HIIT sprints on the treadmill - sprints with jogs - just to defeat boredom. (My long slow day is usually divided between elliptical, stair machine, and treadmill but I prefer a good hill hike instead). I quit road running and road sprinting years ago to avoid arthritis, and I still feel guilty about having worsened the arthritis of my running companion, a black lab who would stay on heel, off leash, on 10-15-mile runs. I do my best to train the heck out of dogs. No adult dog should ever need a leash but too many people are alzy about dog training.
- One day/week I will do around a half hour of HIIT rotations with jump rope variations, ski erg, and rower. That might be 10-minutes too much but I get a kick out of the challenge and enjoy working on my rope routines. Variety is important. Then I fill out my hour with other sorts of things, like weights and ordinary calis on my list.
- I take one "cardio-cross-training" class weekly. It's high-intensity calisthenics with 10-second rests between sets, so much of it is HIIT in various forms like burpees, fast jumping jacks, box jumps, kettlebell swings, mountain climbers, running sprints, squat jumps, combat ropes, rowing sprints, etc. A very active cardio work-out which puts every muscle in the body to use. Sometimes I cheat and take a few more seconds rest than the youth. Rest is not a bad thing. Still, continual improvement.