5 Ways to Improve your Cardiovascular Training
Cardiovascular training is essential for reducing the risk of a variety of western diseases, losing weight and generally improving one’s quality of life. The direct benefits of cardiovascular training on the heart include improvements in stroke volume and a lowered resting heart rate. While significant improvements can be made in 3 months of training, a high volume of aerobic conditioning is required for optimized results. According to the literature, aerobic training should be performed most days of the week and total of 14-20 calories per kilogram of body weight burned. Due to the high frequency of training needed for cardiovascular improvements, it is easy for training to become stale, leading towards incomplete adherence or even cessation of the training program. Therefore, it is imperative that trainers find ways to not only make aerobic training efficient, but also enjoyable for the client.
The following are five ways to add diversity and efficiency to cardiovascular training.
- Use interval training: Interval training uses variation in heart rate or speed to fluctuate the intensity of the training during exercise. Interval training is based on the notion that the body will adapt to the higher intensity range, even though minimal time is spent at the higher intensities due to the increased energy demands. A sample interval training protocol would be to spend 2 minutes at 60% VO2max, followed by 1 minute at 80% VO2max, and repeat that 5 times for 15 total minutes of work.
- Use different machines (Cross training): One of the biggest caloric pitfalls of aerobic training is to use the same machine every session. An individual that uses the same machine will gravitate towards a more efficient cyclical pattern, or find ways to conserve energy by leaning on the machine or using the handrails. If the goal of aerobic training is to burn calories, adjust the training tool to avoid caloric pitfalls.
- Fartlek Training: Swedish for “speed play,” Fartlek training utilizes seemingly random variations in speed and terrain to increase caloric expenditure. If performed on a treadmill, increasing the grade (incline) should also be used with changes in speed. With Fartlek training, there is no set distance or time, but the capacity of the client will determine the duration and intensity of the training session.
- Combine with Resistance training: Mixing 2-5 minutes of steady state training with anaerobic exercises will not only improve caloric expenditure, but also increase muscular strength/endurance, allowing for longer bouts of aerobic training. Combining the two will help account for time management by targeting musculoskeletal imbalances or flexibility concerns. Bodyweight exercises are generally most appropriate in in cardio-circuits, but corrective exercises can be used as well.
- Outdoor Variety: If the conditions are appropriate and the client is properly screened, training outdoors can add substantial variety to aerobic training. If there is a community track, a 400m course would provide an ideal environment for interval training or aerobic circuits. Aerobic training can also be made enjoyable by using a swimming pool or training on the sand.