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The Basics of Cardio Training

Last Updated on January 7, 2021

When someone talks about ‘working out’ they are usually referring to one of two different possible types, either aerobic style workouts or weight/strength/resistance training. In this article, we want to specifically cover aerobic style training and working out. Aerobics, also very commonly referred to as cardio (short for cardiovascular), is the type of exercise that generally involves an exercise or group of exercises that are low impact and long duration. However, we need to be clear here, low impact does NOT necessarily mean low intensity.  There are plenty of cardio workouts that can be extremely intense!

The purpose of cardiovascular workouts is to strengthen and enlarge your heart, work your lungs and improve circulation, blood flow and respiratory function. These parts work together to form your cardiovascular ‘system’.  Accordingly, the main benefit of cardio training is to improve your body’s cardiovascular system by training it to function more efficiently.

Now that you know what cardiovascular training is, let’s discuss some ways to achieve efficient cardio training. Generally speaking, when you are performing your favorite cardio exercises (we discuss some popular ones below) you want to make sure to get your heart rate to at least 60% of your max heart rate.

So you might be wondering, ‘how the heck to I determine my maximum heart rate?’ Well its simple enough, as a general guideline, take 220 and subtract your age. So if are 30 years old, a good rule of thumb would be 220-30=190 beats per minute. Now to achieve a good cardio heart rate, you would want to be around 60% of that, so 60% of 190 being 114. So while doing your cardio workout you should be aiming to maintain at least that heart rate, up to a maximum of 80%. This will allow you to achieve the benefits of cardio exercise.

Armed with the knowledge of how to calculate your target heart rate, the next step would be figuring out how to determine and monitor your heart rate while you are training. Many cardio machines include some kind of heart rate monitoring, but if the machine you are using doesn’t, or if you are performing exercises without the help of machine there are heart rate monitors can purchase. Heart rate monitors are an excellent piece of exercise equipment, and usually consist of a chest strap and watch. They are fairly inexpensive, and you can usually find a nice unit for around $30 or $40. Of course, as with anything else in life, you can get much more expensive models, but they really aren’t necessary.

Thus far we have covered the basics of what cardiovascular workouts are as well as some of the benefits. What most people want to know when it comes to cardio is what exercises to perform. Specifically, the 3 most popular questions when it comes to cardio are: What are the best cardio exercises or what is the best cardio workout? What are the best cardio exercisesto do at home? And What is the best equipment I can use for cardio workouts? Let’s take a look at the answers to each of these questions.

What is the best cardio exercise?

This answer is perhaps the simplest one of all, and you probably won’t believe it when you hear it. Simply put, the best cardio exercise you can possibly ever perform in your entire life is the one that you actually DO! What we are saying here is that you don’t want to waste time a lot of time trying every new cardio program or every new type of cardio training that comes along. You’d be best served by spending your time DOing the actual workout. Now with that said, some of the most popular cardio activities are walking and running (with or without a treadmill), swimming, running, jumping rope, step aerobics, cycling, elliptical training.

Now a lot of you might be looking for exercises you can do right now, in your house.  This brings us to our next question……

What are the best cardio exercises to do at home?

Obviously, one of the easiest ways to get in a goodcardio workout, is to simply go for a walk. But remember to walk briskly enough to keep that heart rate up! Alternatively, you could go for a run as well. If you are lucky enough to have access to a swimming pool, you could go for a dip, just make sure you are actually doing laps!

Now if the weather is bad, there are plenty of activities you could do indoors. These however, typically require some form of equipment. For example, if you are a gym member you could go to the gym and use one of their elliptical or rowing machines. But then you’d have to leave the house. Alternatively, you could, as many people do, purchase a good piece of cardio for your home. The most popular products are usually a treadmill or an exercise bike, as these are great machines that don’t take up too much space.

If you don’t want to spend that much money, there are some much cheaper alternatives. Two awesome in home cardio workouts include step aerobics and jumping rope. We love these activities for a few reasons.

Many people perform step aerobics by following along with a DVD with an screen instructor, this is great because watching other people doing the same exercises as you can motivate you to keep going when you get tired. In addition, you only really need a dvd and an aerobic step, both of which of quite inexpensive.

Jumping rope is one of the most fun cardiovascular workouts you can do on your own, in your house or outside. Although a bit tough to master, it is THE most effective cardio exercise you can do. If you think this isn’t true, try doing it for even 3 minutes straight! You can burn up to 1,000 calories an hour compare that to running or swimming which are around 600. It is quite challenging and takes patience, but once you get in rhythm it is very fun.

We have already touched on the answer to our final question, and that is…

What is the best equipment for cardio workouts?

As we have previously discussed, you don’t NEED any special equipment to get into cardiovascular shape. But seeing as how this website is about being an exercise equipment fanatic, we would be remiss to not mention some of the top cardio products.

Again, we think the best products to buy are the ones that you will actually use often. So whether you want to spend a few hundred dollars on a serious piece of equipment for your home gym ,such as a treadmill or elliptical, or are just looking for something simple and easy like a jump rope, aerobics DVD, or a kettlebell, there are tons and tons of products available in the market.

In summary, you should aim to get into the habit of cardio training at least 3 times a week. You’ll have more energy, feel better, and be more healthy, and who doesn’t want these things? We invite you to thoroughly explore your options when it comes to cardio training equipment so that you make wise buying decisions, ones that best meets your fitness needs.  Remember, cardio training can be fun done at home or in the gym  and provides so many health benefits that it is well worth your time.


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