BUT WHICH ZONE??
There is science behind all of our training programs at Fitness 500. You have probably seen one of us checking the heart rates of all our clients at some point. The reason? See below.
Our bodies have 3 primary energy systems (think like gears of a car) one system is built for power (first gear), one for moderate speed driving (3rd gear) and one for cruising at 55 on the highway for long durations with no power at all (5th gear). The goal with respect to cardio programming is to challenge ALL 3 energy systems. If your cardio program is based on the same speed for the same amount of time every workout you are going nowhere fast. As a matter of fact, you could be actually getting fatter. I will discuss this next month.
Perform hard cardio days. Perform easy cardio days. And make sure the hard days are hard enough and the easy days easy enough. This forces you to continually challenge your body by working in multiple energy systems. Get long days, but not too often. You don’t need 2 hours of cardio to teach the body to be more efficient. Just 40 minutes every few days can make a huge impact. After an hour of Pilates or a class, add 40 minutes of focused Cardio. After an hour strength workout add 40 minutes of Cardio. Do this three times a week and you are getting 4-5 hours of total exercise that is balanced, focused, specific to you and your needs and is completely doable even for an extremely busy person. If you don’t have 40 minutes, do 25 minutes.
Our Favorite Cardio Workouts
Keep in mind there is no magic pill or one best workout. But these are some examples of workouts I have found to be very effective.
Z1-Z2 – 2-4 minutes in Zone 1 followed by 1-2 minutes in Zone 2. Repeat for 30 minutes or more. The purpose is to push your fat burning efficiency to a higher zone. It also allows heart rate variability to keep the body guessing. Perfect workout for the first 4-week phase in a 12-week plan.
Z2-Z3 – Steady in Zone 3 right after a high intense strength workout or class. The initial workout (if hard enough) can help deplete the body of glycogen and forces it to rely on fat at a higher level of intensity. Perfect workout for the second 4-week phase in a 12-week plan.
Z3-Z3+ – Take a 10-minute block and for 15 seconds sprint all out then recover for 45 seconds in Zone 1 (walking steadily in active recovery). Repeat throughout the whole 10-minute block; then recover for another 10 minutes in Zone 1 or 2. If you have it in you, add a second 10-minute block of bursts. This is a hard workout and metabolically demanding. Perfect workout for the last 4-week phase in a 12-week plan.
No matter which way you slice it, you still need Cardio. For weight loss, fitness, and performance goals you want to lose fat and become efficient in how you process oxygen. And you can process oxygen best if you get proper cardio training. Cardio is not limited by how many hours you have available during a week. It is limited by your current capabilities. This is discovered with a simple metabolic test. Know your capabilities and you can remove your limitations by training smarter and more effectively.
So, what are the zones you ask? Get with a Fitness 500 trainer to find YOUR exact cardio training ZONES!!!