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Types of Cardiovascular Training - Interval Training, Fartlek, Long-Duration, Tabata Method



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Types of Cardiovascular Training

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There are a number of types of cardiovascular training which can help you meet your fitness goals. Each has it's own advantages and disadvantages. Some types of training are better for advanced trainers while some are more appropriate for beginning trainers.

1. Low Intensity, Long Duration Cardio

  • This type of training involves intensities of around 40 to 60% of Maximum Heart Rate.
  • It is basically something slow, easy, continuous and long (over 40 minutes). This can be walking, cycling, jogging, etc.
  • You should be able to converse comfortably while doing it (called the talk test).
  • This type of training is good for people just getting started with cardio work.
  • It is reasonably good for fat loss, especially in very obese people.
  • It is also the least demanding form of aerobic training.
Walking is an example of low intensity, long duration cardio training.

2. Medium Intensity, Medium Duration Cardio

  • This involves aerobic work done at around 70% of max HR.
  • It is harder, therefore it cannot be done for as long, usually between 20 to 40 minutes.
  • This is the next step up from the low intensity work.
  • This type of training can be used for fat loss and for increasing aerobic capacity.
  • It is characterized by the beginning of heavy breathing but not so much that you are soon out of breath and must stop.

3. High Intensity, Short Duration Cardio

  • This version of aerobic work is done at around 80 to 85% of HR max. That point, at 85% of your HR max, is generally considered to be the Anaerobic Threshold, though this can vary depending on genetics and fitness level.
  • This is a very demanding form of training.
  • It is done for between 5 to 20 minutes generally, depending on fitness level and intensity.
Running or sprinting are examples of high intensity, short duration cardio exercise.

4. Aerobic Interval Training

  • The first way of doing aerobic interval training involves doing a period of moderate to high intensity aerobic work, alternating with a period of rest of low intensity work, e.g. 3 minutes of fast running then 1 minute of slow walking, repeated 4 times.
  • You can vary the intervals and intensities to your liking, e.g. 10 minutes of moderate work, 2 minutes easy, 1 minute hard, or perhaps 5 minutes hard, 5 minutes easy.
  • The key is variation during the work while not working so hard that you must stop completely.

5. Anaerobic Interval Training

  • This type of training involves going hard for short periods of time then resting for equal or longer periods of time.
  • It is done at intensities of 85 to 100% of your HR max.
  • Here is an example of how it works: sprint as hard as you can for 30 seconds, walk for 30 seconds, sprint 30 seconds, walk 30 seconds, etc. Repeat 3 to 6 times depending on fitness level.

6. Fartlek Training

  • Translated from Swedish, this means speed play.
  • Basically, you mix up all of the above types of training together into one session. You might run for 10 minutes, sprint for 30 seconds, walk for 2 minutes, run fast for 2 minutes, jog slowly for 5 minutes then sprint again.
  • It is a good way to work through the entire intensity spectrum as well as to prevent boredom.

7. Circuit Training

  • Circuit training is basically aerobic weight training.
  • Set up a number of stations with a variety of exercises that work the entire body, e.g. bench, curls, pulldowns, leg curls, etc.
  • Use a fairly light weight that you can lift without going to failure for a preset period of time.
  • You will do each exercise continuously for a specified time interval, e.g. 1 minute at each station and go through the cycle 1 to 3 times.
  • You can mix in treadmill work, skipping, cycling, etc. to add variety.
  • It is a reasonably good way to do aerobic work and weight training work at the same time.
  • It also has the advantage of working the entire body instead of just the legs as most forms of aerobic training do.
Circuit Training works the entire body with resistance.

8. Tabata Method

This is a very intense type of interval training that involves short, VERY high intensity work periods with very short rest periods. An example of this would be sprinting (about 90 to 95% of all-out) for 15 seconds then resting for 5 seconds then doing it again.

The Tabata Method can be done with any type of cardio activity and can also be done with weight training as well.

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