Improve cardiovascular function & maximize caloric burn
When performing cardio, most exercisers are in the pursuit of increased caloric expenditure, cardiovascular health benefits, and performance enhancement. Yet much, if not the majority of the cardio that we perform, isn’t actually well designed to maximize the aforementioned three benefits.
The preponderance of research suggests that if we are performing cardio to burn more calories, we should perform interval training, and in fact, interval training that has LONGER recovery periods between intervals.
If our goal is to maximize the health and cardiovascular benefits of our “cardio”, the research indicates that the intensity, defined as our momentary effort and measured by our heart rate, is the key stimulus. How much we do and how long we do it for is of less importance that the intensity of that work.
Consider introducing the following cardio workout once per week or every other week in place of your traditional, steady state cardio. This workout can be performed on a treadmill, on a stationary bike, or any mode of cardiovascular training that you prefer. The workout is categorized as Sprint Interval Training (SIT) in that each bout of work lasts under 20 seconds.
Warm-up – 5 minutes. Simply run or cycle at a progressively faster pace. Toward the end of this warm-up, you should build toward working at nearly a maximum speed/pace.
“Sprint” for 15 seconds. This means run or peddle nearly as fast as possible.
Follow this by 45 seconds of rest. During the rest, you can walk or peddle very slowly (you can choose to do no activity whatsoever and just stand on the side of the treadmill).
Repeat for a total of 22 intervals (15 seconds “on” and 45 seconds “off”).
Cool-down for 3 minutes.
Collectively, with warm-up and cool-down, this will take exactly 30 minutes.
As you perform the workout week in and week out, gradually increase the speed of each interval. For example, if you run all 22 intervals at 11.2 mph today, move to 11.3 next week.