Thursday, March 18, 2010


The most productive exercise program known to man is the following combination: resistance training and cardiovascular training.

Resistance training is used to strengthen the body (build muscle and strength, strengthen the bones and joints). The most common form is weight training. Other forms of resistance include: machines, cables, exercise bands, or even your bodyweight. You will often see these exercises called ‘anaerobic’.

On the other hand, the main goal of cardiovascular training (also called ‘cardio’ or ‘aerobic’) is to improve your endurance and burn calories (and hopefully fat). To achieve this goal, you have to move your body (or its largest muscles – the legs) for a relatively long amount of time. The classic aerobic exercises are: running, swimming, the treadmill, the bike (stationary or not), step etc. Note that even simple walking could be considered aerobic activity for some people.

In this post, we will deal with cardiovascular training.

If fat burning is not enough motivation for you, then consider your health. Cardiovascular exercises train your heart and improve your cardiovascular system. That’s why they are called aerobics – you need oxygen (air) to do them (while in anaerobic training oxygen is not enough, thus you also employ the energy reserves of your muscles).

What I want to say is: put cardio in your schedule! But do it right.

I suggest you begin with three times per week for 15 minutes, and work your way up to five times for 45 minutes (max). Start with a low intensity exercise (for example walking, or easy treadmill/bike) and gradually move to higher intensity (running). But you should do it exactly like I wrote it: first increase the frequency of your training to five times per week on low intensity, and then slowly increase the intensity.

Now let’s move to the important part.

To enjoy maximum benefit from your cardio, do it first thing in the morning, shortly after you wake up and before eating. This way, all your energy stores will be depleted, and you will burn fat for fuel. Another advice is to drink some coffee before your training (black, no sugar!) because caffeine helps to mobilize stored bodyfat.

If you are young and healthy, I suggest the following program: three mornings per week go for a 20-minute run. You don’t have to actually run for the full 20 minutes – feel free to walk some parts. Also, look for hills. Climb them running or walking fast. Gradually increase your sessions to four and – maybe – five.

If you are not so fit, then do the same but walk. You might need to increase the duration a bit. When you are done, shower and then have a light breakfast based on protein.

If you follow these guidelines, success is guaranteed. In three months, you will see and feel the difference.

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