How Often Should I Do Cardio? Is It Necessary?

Cardio exercises are a fun way to get your heart rate up and burn calories since most of them don’t require the use of a machine. Also referred to as aerobic exercise, cardio is a physical exercise that forces your body to suck up more oxygen, which is used to generate energy. Examples of this type of workout include walking, cycling, swimming, jogging and running. As simple as these exercises may seem, you need not to overdo them since your body requires time to recover. 

Fitting Cardio in Your Workout Routine

A balanced workout routine should have cardio as part of the exercises to help boost the circulatory system. Fitting aerobics in your routine will improve your endurance and recovery. The good thing about cardio is that it gives you lots of options to suit your physiological and fitness needs. Unlike weightlifting, you won’t have to worry about repeating variations of a single exercise for a specified period of time. 

Heart rates are an important point of focus when planning cardio routines since they differ in people. It’s advisable to aim for a heart rate ranging from 120 to 150 bpm (beats per minute) for a period of 45 to 60 minutes. You can check the rate from a heart rate monitor worn on your sleeve when engaging in any form of cardio. If you have a heart condition or a history with heart problem, consider consulting with your personal doctor before doing aerobics. 

Functional movements such as kettlebell swings are a great way to keep your heart rate up since they stimulate several parts of your body. Besides incorporating them in your strength training sessions, you can fit them in your aerobics. The trick to getting your heart rate up is to do more reps of functional movements within a specified time. Emulating moves that ice skaters use or adding an ability ladder to your sessions can help you boost your agility. 

How Many Times Should You Do Cardio?

According to ACSM (the American College of Sports Medicine), about 150 minutes of moderate-to-intense activity every week are enough to promote cardiovascular health. Your routine will determine the ways you’ll split the 150 minutes to work in your favor. You may choose to do HIIT (high intensity interval training) for your cardio sessions if your goal is to intensely burn calories using machines such as a treadmill, a bike or an indoor rowing machine. Functional movements can also form part of your HIIT training as long as you spare time for active recovery in between the sessions. 

Are You Overdoing Cardio?

The drawbacks of aerobics include respiratory problems (if you have a history of lung problems) and overuse injuries (caused by repetitive, intense exercises). Cardio won’t be effective in building muscle mass if you overdo it since the accumulated muscle will gradually be lost in high impact exercises. You may also not experience fat loss especially if you’re doing aerobics the wrong way or you’re not sticking to a healthy meal plan. The frequency and duration of your aerobic workouts should exceed a certain minimum (at least twenty minutes a day twice or thrice a week) for you to fully derive both the performance benefits and health benefits. 

Final Thoughts

Your goal when doing aerobics is to maximize the breathing capacity of your lungs hence increasing their ability to take in more air in a short time. With more efficient lungs, your respiratory system will be more equipped to eliminate carbon dioxide as your heart functionality is improved. While you may be ambitious about gaining these benefits, you need to realize that your respiratory and cardiovascular systems have limitations. Your skeletal muscles also have limitations, which present themselves when you try to put pressure on them in the name of doing cardio. 


HIIT After Weight Training – A Good Idea?

High intensity interval training (abbreviated as HIIT) is a type of cardiovascular exercise that lets you burn lots of calories in the shortest time possible. As a fitness enthusiast or gym goer, you may find yourself wondering whether or not to indulge in HIIT after weightlifting. With numerous mixed reviews out there about HIIT, it can be challenging to figure out when you should do HIIT. Look no further because this guide has all the answers you need.

What’s HIIT All About?

HIIT lets you do quick bursts of work with resting periods (passive or active) placed in between the exercises. The goal of the workout is to increase your heartbeat during the quick bursts or intervals and then slightly decrease it while you’re resting. With HIIT, it’s possible to experience quick gains in your cardio fitness and build muscle. On the downside, HIIT requires lots of recovery for the gains to be beneficial. 

Benefits of High Intensity Interval Training

Though it’s tough to execute, HIIT can help you build anesthetic-looking muscular and lean physique when done in the right way. The exercise lets you burn 25 to 35 percent more calories than other workout types while keeping your body fat down. HIIT is a great exercise for improving cardiovascular health and in turn lowering your risks for heart disease, cancer, diabetes and stroke. After each HIIT session, you’ll feel more energized and productive.

Should You HIIT After Weightlifting?

The answer to this question is yes. If you’re engaging in high intensity interval training, it’s advisable to place the exercise after your weightlifting sessions. Consider doing HIIT as a separate exercise from your weight training session for maximum results. It’s more ideal if you do this cardio exercise 6 hours after weight training (preferably the next day). 

Why Spread Out Your Weightlifting and HIIT Sessions?

A 2017 study by Murlasits et al revealed that spreading out a HIIT session is crucial for more strength improvements. Doing HIIT before your weightlifting sessions won’t yield positive cardiovascular gains.The magnitude of the gains in muscle mass and strength will depend on the type of endurance training you’re using.

A separate study conducted by Wilson et al found out that resistance training combined with running results in a significant decrease in strength and hypertrophy. The study concluded that running disrupts the muscular system since it relies on movements that are inconsistent with strength training. When running, every step causes shocks known to trigger muscle damage. Running also stresses the legs making it difficult for you to recover or gain muscle mass.

While spreading out your HIIT sessions, engage in low impact cardio exercises such as swimming, rowing and cycling for the best results. Avoid running since it’s detrimental to your legs. If you don’t care about leg size, you may engage in running.

How to Indulge in HIIT

The recommended time for performing HIIT is 15 minutes (at least 2 to 3 times a week). When done moderately, HIIT promotes muscle growth and strength. If you over do it, the exercise will likely interfere with your strength training program. Choose any type of modality when performing HIIT except running and jogging. 

A good HIIT routine includes 3 to 5 minutes of warm-up and a 30-second rest (moving slowly or complete rest). Repeat this routine for at least 15 minutes to maximize your gains. You can also indulge in sports once or twice on your resting days for 20 to 30 minutes. The good thing about sports is that it’s more fun and less repetitive than other HIIT modalities.

Summing Up

Your HIIT sessions will depend on your goals, recovering capacity and training experience. If you’re aiming to build muscle mass, engaging in HIIT everyday will negatively affect your recovery and decrease your gains. Your body may adapt well to doing HIIT everyday if you always recover well and you’ve been doing HIIT for a long time.

Is Working Out 6 Days A Week Too Much? Find Out Here!

When drafting your gym routine, one major component to plan for is your exercise frequency. In other words, you should decide on how many times and how often should you get your workout in a week. Terms such as ‘workout frequency’ and ‘exercise frequency’ have diverse meanings to every gym goer or fitness enthusiast. Regardless of your definition of these terms, always ensure that you don’t overtrain.

Which Exercise Frequencies Should You Care About the Most?

The three exercise frequencies you need to pay attention to include overall exercise frequency, weight training frequency and muscle group or body part frequency. Your overall exercise frequency should focus on how many times you’ll be indulging in any type of exercise. For weight training frequency, consider the number of times and frequency of weight training per week. Lastly, muscle group frequency focuses on how many times and how often you’ll be training each body part or muscle group.

Your workout routine and fitness goals will determine how frequent you’ll be working out. You may want to achieve a fit physique or lose weight when training. Either way, the general rule is that you should spare two days off every week from all kinds of exercise. Also known as rest days, the two days will allow your body to heal/recover adequately before your next workout session.

Is Working out Six Times Per Week Too Much?

The answer to this question is yes. You’ll be overtraining if your gym/workout schedule takes six days every week. While it’s easy to find yourself excessively training, it does pay to work out less. The message here is not to quit going to the gym or exercising but to have spare rest days (or weeks) in your schedule. 

What are the Dangers of Overtraining?

Vigorous weightlifting may create tiny muscle tears, whose only remedy is rest. Avoiding rest will make it difficult for your muscles to repair and become stronger. You’re right to think that working your muscles hard will help you add more muscles. However, failing to give your body enough rest time will result in sore muscles and fatigue.

You’re at risk of losing lots of weight when you work out too intensely or too often. Depending on your diet, you may even gain weight that doesn’t qualify as muscle mass. Women may experience changes in their menstrual cycle, a drop in estrogen and premature bone loss. All these negative side effects can make the female body more prone to injury and weaker.

Mood and sleeping problems can be attributed to overtraining too. You’ll need adequate sleep to keep your body refreshed and energized for workout sessions. Despite losing sleep, you risk suffering from depression and anxiety. Though exercise helps curb these mental conditions, too much of it will have an opposite effect on you.

Remedies for Overtraining

The best remedy for overtraining is a workout routine that has rest days (or even weeks). If you’re engaging in weight training. two to three days per week will be enough. Consequently, two to three days per week are enough for body part or muscle group training. You may include rest days between or at the end of your weight training and muscle group/body part training sessions.

Your goal is to focus on strength and cardiovascular fitness five days every week. If you’re looking to add muscle mass, cut one cardio day off your routine. Skipping a strength training day or switching up the sessions each week will help you improve your endurance. It pays being disciplined throughout the workout sessions and being realistic about your routine.

Summing Up

Having good exercise and fitness habits will help you achieve your desired goals without exposing yourself to injuries and fatigue. The only way you can get results as a fitness enthusiast is when you consistently follow your workout routine. Know what works for you since everyone’s fitness goals are different.