Cardio and Strength Training 101
Not all workouts are created equal. When you plan your workouts, you want them to differ throughout the week. You should have a mix of easy and hard sessions to keep your body from getting into a routine and to prevent overtraining. You should also do a combination of cardio and strength training in order to burn the most calories, keep your heart healthy, and build muscle. Here is what you need to know about cardio and strength training workouts.
Cardio should be done at least 2 – 3 days per week. Cardio is any type of repetitive movement that increases your heart rate. This can be walking, running, jumping rope, cycling, swimming, stair climbing, or using an elliptical.
There are two types of cardio: steady state and intervals. During steady state cardio, you get your heart rate to a certain target and keep it there. When you interval train, you change the intensity so that your heart rate slows down and speeds up throughout the workout. For example, after a five-minute warm-up, you go hard for one minute, then decrease intensity for four minutes, and then go back up for a minute. Repeat this pattern for thirty minutes and end with a five-minute cooldown. Interval training is a great way to burn fat and help you get faster. It’s more efficient than steady state cardio. However, steady state cardio is a great option for one cardio day or can be used for a low-intensity day.
Strength training builds muscle so that you can, you guessed it, become stronger! This usually involves weights; however, you may need to begin with just your bodyweight or very light weights if you are a beginner. You can use barbells, dumbbells, and resistance machines to strength train. Just make sure you are always increasing the weight you can lift, otherwise, you will not become stronger.
When you strength train, it’s important to work all your muscles, so be sure you are working all of your legs, core, and arms. When you plan for strength training, you can either do a full body workout, take a day off, and then do it again or just focus on certain muscles at a time. For example, you can work legs on Monday, chest and arms on Tuesdays, legs again on Wednesday, and the upper body again on Thursday. Just be sure you are working with a variety of muscle groups and using different lifts. You can even shorten your routine by doing compound moves (exercises that work for multiple muscle groups), so you can save time and not go to the gym as often.
Don’t let your uncertainty stop you from starting an exercise program. The best way to get started is just start moving. You can walk, run, swim, cycle, or take a class at a local gym. Find something that you like and go from there. If you love lifting weights, then focus on that. If you find that strength training is not your favorite, then try HIIT exercises or look for other ways to incorporate strength and cardio so you can avoid the weight room. As long as you find a workout you love, you will be consistent and see results.