Cardiovascular exercise to most people is interpreted to mean performing the Long Slow Duration type exercise that lasts for at least 20 minutes and in most cases a lot longer. You are working the heart and lungs.
It’s also paired up with what we call aerobic exercise meaning in the presence of oxygen. During aerobic exercise oxygen is consistently delivered to your lungs and muscles.
It’s fair to say that this is the type of “cardio” exercise that most are accustomed to in the form of jogging indoors and outdoors, spinning classes, swimming and long walks to name a few.
However not all cardio is equal and using the method outlined above is not that efficient at burning fat tissue.
For a preferred outcome you want to work the muscle tissue harder to increase your metabolic rate and burn more fat, this is what we call anaerobic training.
In this case we are still talking about cardiovascular exercise and what options to use but now it is defined as NOT in the presence of oxygen.
Don’t get too alarmed and think that you are going to stop breathing. All this simply means is that the conversion of oxygen to energy is not enough to complete the activity and so your body moves to other energy systems to create movement.
What are the benefits of this type of cardio training?
Time – It can be performed very quickly, no requirement for a 1 hour window.
Fitness – Anaerobic exercise can improve all components of fitness including aerobic. However, aerobic cannot offer the same cross benefit
Metabolism – Anaerobic energy system training burns calories hours after the exercise is finished. This results in more fat tissue being melted away. Aerobic training does nothing for the muscle tissue and can have a negative effect on your metabolic rate if your muscle tissue decreases and i doing so makes your body less efficient at burning fat.
Take the image of a sprinter and a marathon runner. Sprinters carry less body fat than long distance runners because of their muscle mass.
Stands the test of time, there is no end point – Consistently performing aerobic exercise will get you fitter but as mentioned above will not increase your metabolic rate. By performing this type of exercise only over and over you are adapting so much that it will be harder and harder to get any gains from it. Anaerobic exercise does not get easier and will consistently bring results because the muscle will always try to work harder or you can challenge them more.
I get the same experience from clients repeatedly when they question whether they are getting any fitter and why this type of training appears to get harder.
Trust me; this is a good thing because as you are getting fitter you are able to increase your effort which results in better results and a system that you can benefit from for life because small changes can be made so that you never adapt.
The same method cannot be applied to aerobic exercise. If you try harder, it will then become anaerobic so the question becomes why not utilise anaerobic type training to begin with and save loads of time?
And when you adapt to aerobic exercise you do not need to expend as many calories and so less fat is burned!
One form of anaerobic training that is cardio vascular is interval training which prevents and adaptation and will improve your fat loss results.
Interval training is simply performing a period of intense activity followed by a period of active rest meaning you can perform at a higher intensity using your muscle tissue for a longer period of time.
The ratio of the work to rest periods and actual length of them can be changed to serve all manners of purposes and in doing so means there is no end in sight. As you progress, so will the challenge, there is no down side!
Here is a simple structure for performing interval training using running.
After a warm up of 5 minutes
Perform a run/sprint for 60 seconds as fast as you can. A perceived level of effort of about 9 or 10/10.
On completion, walk at a moderate speed or a perceived level of about 3/10
And repeat 5 more times
Understand that the speed and intensity will decline as you do repeat and as you get closer to the conclusion of each work interval.
Including cool down that whole session could last about 25 minutes.
Then as you get better reduce the active rest to 60 seconds also making a total of 15 minutes end to end.
Nothing to it and time to spare. Trust me; your results will explode as will your fitness.
Mike Bach is one of the UK’s most prominent fat loss and performance coaches and operates a Personal Training service in Manchester and Cheshire.