Cardiovascular exercise (cardio for short) is very important for overall health.
Benefits such as decreased blood pressure and cholesterol, lowered resting heart rate and increased aerobic capacity can be achieved with as little as 12-20 minutes of cardiovascular activity. And, the better conditioned your heart, lungs, and circulatory system is, the harder you can weight lift and make muscle gains. Just what a bodybuilder wants.
Everyone should always do three days per week of cardiovascular work as a minimum. Three days of cardio a week is a habit you should maintain as a part of your lifestyle for your health if no other reason.
There are two schools of thought regarding the amount of time per training session you should be spending on cardio equipment. One way is to do 20-30 minutes of HIGH INTENSITY cardio, and the other is to plod away at a lower intensity for 30 to 60 minutes.
The consensus of the opinions I've found on the net is that high intensity cardio burns more fat than lower intensity, up to 50 percent more according to some, and your metabolism stays in high gear for some time after your workout.
This is good news to me since I despise cardio. The less time on a treadmill the better!
Running intervals, or sprints with intermittent rest periods, burns three times as much fat as running at slow, consistent speeds, according to new research from the University of New South Wales, in Australia.
Longer, lower intensity cardio exercise tends to burn calories from muscle tissue and less from fat. As a bodybuilder, this is exactly what you don't want.
Lets put it this way: have you noticed the bodies of marathon runners? They're skinny, small muscled, pretty much look like they're wasting away. In comparison, sprinters have thighs that look like tree trunks!
Any duration of cardio, however, will deplete your muscles energy reserves, and this will negatively impact muscle growth. So keep your cardio sessions well away from your weightlifting sessions, as much as 8 hours away or even better, on non-lifting days.
Most body types need 3 cardio sessions, minimum, a week for 20-30 minutes each session, no longer.
Do cardio in the morning, on an empty stomach.
Do your cardio sessions at least 8 hours after weight lifting or on non-lifting days.
Don't eat for one hour after your exercise session. Your metabolism is in high gear and will burn excess fat, especially if your stomach is empty.
Here's a high intensity cardio workout example that can be done on any kind of treadmill, elliptical machine, bike, or even walking:
Two minute easy warm up.
Raise the effort for one minute.
Increase intensity for another minute.
Increase intensity yet again for one minute.
Finally, go all out for another minute.
Decrease intensity back to the level right after the warm up for a final minute.
Think of this as a set…now repeat two more times for a total of 21 minutes.
The most accurate way I have found to keep track of intervals is with the Gymboss Interval Timer
You have plenty of cardio options for your home gym. Jumping rope, running in place, jogging outside, bike riding and roller blades are a few cardio exercises I have done.
An elliptical machine is a very low impact way to get you’re cardio in. Life Fitness makes a really great one, but very expensive. Even reconditioned models cost over $2000.
You can also find used home gym treadmills just about everywhere from yard sales to craigslist to eBay.
Check out this page: Waterrower vs. Concept2 rowing machine.
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