Ultimate guide to cardio exercise for losing weight

Ultimate guide to cardio exercise for losing weight
Cardio exercise is one of the best proven approaches to lose the weight permanently without having to torture yourself with strange diets or paying hundreds of dollars for different pills or treatments. The fat loss formula is simple – you need to create some calorie deficit so your body starts using the stored fat as an energy source.
If you want to lose around one pound a week, 3500-calorie deficit is needed. In other words, you have to burn by 3500 more calories than you eat. Of course, this number differs little bit according to your gender, age or the amount of stored fat you have, but no matter what your condition is, you can stick to it. One hour of pure walk allows you to burn around 120 calories, so 1 pound a week means you should be walking up to 2 hours a day to meet your goal.
Is cardio exercise good for losing weight, Even though the method based on walking works great, no one is willing to walk two hours a day. That is just too time consuming and boring. Instead, you have to combine the physical activity with the changes in the foods you eat, so you can create the deficit more easily. You can easily reach the 500-calorie daily deficit by splitting it into two halves. Take a walk for an hour to burn the first 250 and then alter your daily eating menu by lowering the overall calorie intake by 250 for that day.
Being successful is much more challenging than it sounds on the TV commercials full of celebrities trying to advertise all those strange diets. Some kind of cardio exercise is the key, but it should be just a part of the whole weight-loss plan. Fighting those excess pounds takes much more than just drinking some protein shakes all days long. You have to revamp your eating habits and stop eating all those junk foods from fast food restaurants full of fats and high in calories. best cardio workout to lose weight can you do cardio workout at home

During the whole process you have to stay motivated and believe in yourself. There are always good and bad weeks, so don’t give up if the scale doesn’t move for few days. You should also stay away from depriving your body of essential nutrients and vitamins by eating less than 1200 calories per day. Never try to lose more than 1 pound a week, otherwise you are risking some health issues and once you return to your previous habits, the yo-yo effect may pop up.
Following are some general cardio guidelines you should follow in order to meet your desired body weight.

How often should you exercise in order to be successful?

You should do 4-6 workouts per week depending on your time schedule. Rest is also important, so do not push yourself too much.

How long should the cardio exercise routine last?

There are no limits here. The more you exercise, the more fat you will burn. Within the first 15-20 minutes you body is just warming up, so your workout should last at least 45 minutes.

How to properly perform a cardio exercise?

Ultimate guide to cardio exercise for losing weight

Cardio exercise is very specific when it comes to the heart rate target zone you need to exercise in. Also called an aerobic exercise, while inside your target zone your body is able to cope with the stored fat more effectively. However, if you are just beginner or your physical condition is not so good so far, there is nothing wrong exercising at 50% of your maximum heart rate. You will still be burning those calories and improving your fitness level.
According to popular belief, working out at slower pace is more effective when it comes to weight loss and the overall amount of calories burned. Most of the modern cardio machines have a special fat burning programs that keep you at a slower pace. However, this concept is totally wrong and the well known “fat burning zone” is no more real than poor Twilight Zone.
The reason why aerobic exercise is recommended by many fitness experts is that during this low intensity physical activity your body is using the stored fats as its primarily energy source. As you speed up and get closer to the breaking point, your body will start looking for other sources like carbohydrates. Even though you won’t be burning to much stored fats anymore, faster pace will allow you to burn more total calories.
For example if you go running for 30 minutes at a leisurely speed, you should be able to burn around 100 calories. About 80% of these should be from fat. However, if you speed up you can easily burn up to 300 calories during the same time. Yes, only around 30% (that is 90 fat calories, so more by 10) will be from fats, but you have burned three times more calories and slightly more fatty ones.
Still, the faster the better is not always true. Especially, if you are just beginning or have a poor physical condition, you should start slowly and speed up continuously.

What activities you should aim for to burn the most calories?

There is countless number of cardio activities that can help you to reach your goal, thus shed those excess and unhealthy pounds. Even though there are better and worse activities when it comes to the overall amount of calories you can burn, you definitely won’t be able to burn over 1000 calories per hour as you may have seen in the advertisements for treadmills and other cardio machines. These are just unreal claims trying to attract the customer.
If you are new to aerobic workouts, you won’t be able to last long enough at faster pace. Therefore, you have to choose an activity that suits your physical condition so you can sustain long enough to make it count. Fifteen minutes is the minimum. Running burns much more calories than the pure walk, but if it bothers your knees or other joints, you are better off walking. Never rush, the results will come.
The following table provides the raw estimates for the most popular cardio workouts. Please note these are just the estimates and the exact amount of calories burned depends on several factors like the intensity, your health, health condition and others.
Calories burned during popular activities
Activity15 min.30 min.45 min.60 min.
Aerobic dance171342513684
Basketball141282432564
Bicycling at 12 mph142283425566
Boxing165330495660
Circuit weight training189378576756
In-line skating150300450600
Jumping rope143286429572
Rowing machine104208310415
Running 10-minute miles183365548731
Running 8-minute miles223446670893
Swimming freestyle – 35 yds/min.124248371497
Swimming freestyle – 50 yds/min.131261392523
Tennis116232348464
Walking 20-minute miles – flat60120180240
Walking 20-minute miles – hills81162243324

How to choose the proper cardio workout?

If you have finally decided to lose that unhealthy fat and get into shape, you will find out that there are plenty of options when it comes to cardio activities. So “I don’t savor it” is not an excuse anymore. Finding some specific activity you enjoy makes the workout routine more fun and more effective. Moreover, you will more likely stick to it. Below are some great aerobic choices, but you can easily come up with your own.
During the training you should keep your heart rate somewhere between the 60% and 85% of your maximum heart rate. To get the exact number of your maximum heart rate, you will have to visit a doctor. However, there is a simple formula that gives you just the estimate that can be easily used for our needs. In order to get your maximum, start by subtracting your age from 220. Then just multiply it by .6 to find the lower end of target zone. Afterwards, multiply your maximum by .85 to get your higher end.
Maximum heart rate = 220 – your age
Lower end of target zone = Maximum heart rate * .6
Higher end of target zone = Maximum heart rate * .85
If you don’t have some modern equipment that will check your heart rate during the exercise, you can manually check it by counting the beats of your pulse for 10 seconds. Than multiply the number of beats by 6. If you are below your target zone, speed up and work harder. If you are above, slow down little bit.
If you are new to this kind of exercise, it is safest to workout close to your lower end of your target zone until you get into it. You should always start at lower pace anyway to warm up your body and increase the intensity steadily.
Power walking – one of the easiest ways how to burn some additional calories. This safe and effective aerobic activity can be easily performed at home using the treadmill or you can walk around the hood and relax. Because the intensity is usually pretty low, make sure you exercise long enough to make it count.
Dancing – if you are looking for some funny way how to stretch your body and get rid of some calories, dancing is here to help. Just get your favorite music, turn on the player and keep on moving. Try to use large movements that will use your whole body so you can burn as many calories as possible.
Shadow boxing – this typical exercise in front of the mirror uses your whole body. Large and rhythmic motions are well suited for fighting the stored fat. No matter if you know the specific martial arts techniques or not. Just improvise – rotate hooks, jabs, punches and all kinds of kicks (knee, high and low kicks). Moreover, this super cardio exercise can help you to relieve from stress.
Jumping rope – this super fat burning activity can be easily performed at home in front of the TV making it more fun. From the beginning you may find it too challenging to jump non-stop, so take a small break every twenty seconds. As you continue using the rope, your endurance will improve and you should be able to jump for several minutes without having to stop.
Stairs climbing – using the stairs for your cardio improves your physical condition, helps to gain some muscle mass and the most important – burns a lot of calories. If you don’t have the stairs, get some cheap stepper that you can easily store at home or go out and use the stairs at your office, mall or park. To make it more challenging and effective, carry some weight in your hands with you.
Stationary bike – quality stationary bikes are now more than affordable, so you can easily have your own at home to perform your cardio exercises regularly. The top quality ones come with built-in computers that help to track your heart rate, your speed and other important data.

How to find your personal heart rate zone

Your heart rate can tell many interesting information about your body. It tells you how fit you are or whether you have recovered from yesterday’s workout routine and are ready for the next one. Heart rate is also great for tracking your progress so you know that you are improving thus doing the things the right way. Generally, your target zone is somewhere between 50% and 85% of your maximum heart rate. This zone is completely safe and you don’t risk any health issues.
The point when your body starts using the stored sugar as its primary energy source is called anaerobic threshold. While inside this zone, you are improving your cardiovascular condition, but are not burning that much fat anymore. With poor physical condition, you can hit this zone at low intensity as your body is not able to supply the muscles with oxygen. As you continue working out and get more fit, you can push your limits while still supplying your muscles with oxygen.

Near the low end of your target zone you will barely sweat, but once you hit the opposite end you will be pushing your limits to maximum. Yet other key reason why you should start slowly is to prevent an injury. If you rush from the beginning, there is a high risk of injury that will keep you off the track for few days or even weeks. As you improve your fitness, you can push your training to the middle or the upper end of your target zone.
But how do you get your maximum heart rate you can work with?
To get the precise number you have to visit a professional, but thankfully we can easily compute an estimate that will serve our purpose. The easiest method is to subtract the age from 220 for men and from 226 for women. As mentioned above, this formula gives us just the estimate. Your true max can be little bit higher or lower.
By using the simple formula above you can easily get your lower and upper end point of your cardio target zone. Here is how you do it for a 40-year old man:
1. To get the max, subtract the age (40) from 220
220 – 40 = 180 -> this is the max
2. To get the lower end point, multiply the maximum by .5 (representing 50%)
180 * .5 = 90 -> this is the lower end
So if the heart of such person beats less than 90 times per minute, he knows he is below the zone and needs to work out harder.
3. To get the upper point, multiply the maximum by .85 (representing 85%)
180 * .85 = 153 -> this is the upper end
So if his heart beats faster than 153 beats per minute, he is not in the aerobic zone anymore and needs to slow down.
So now you know how easily you can figure out your target zone you have to stick to. But how can you monitor the actual heart rate during the exercise so you know you’re doing good? You can either check your pulse manually or use some heart-rate monitoring equipment. You can easily get such accessory in a fitness store for a reasonable price.

Monitoring the heart rate during your exercise

If you’re experienced, you can easily tell whether you are in your target zone or not. Otherwise, you have to monitor your heart rate to make sure you are within the zone so you are getting the most of your cardio workout. You can either determine your pulse by counting the beats of your heart at your wrist or neck, or use some specific gadget called heart-rate monitor that serves this purpose.

Why you should monitor your heart rate?

You need to know your actual heart rate during the exercise to make sure you are within your aerobic zone, so you are using the full body’s fat burning potential. After some time you will have a good sense how hard you should workout. Till then, monitoring your heart is necessary. Beginners have usually the tendency to push them too far beyond the target zone, so if you are new to this kind of physical activity, make sure you are monitoring yourself.
As you keep an eye on your progress, you will discover that your condition is gradually improving and you have to step up the difficulty in order to stay in your target aerobic zone. When you are beginner, your body and heart have work much harder, but after some time your body get used to the exercise and easily supply your bodily system with enough blood and oxygen.

How to check your current pulse manually

Checking the pulse manually is not the most accurate method out there, but sometimes you may not have any other choice. The simplest approach is to take it at your wrist. Just find the radial artery (most people can see it) on your wrist and place your fingertips on it. Now start counting the beats either for 1 minute, or just for 30 seconds and multiply it by 2 once done.
You should take your pulse about every 10-15 minutes during your exercise. Be careful while taking it as it may disrupt you from your workout and you might get hurt. Therefore, slow down or even stop while taking it.

Heart-rate monitor basics

By far easiest and better method how to stay in your target zone is using a heart-rate monitor. You can get this useful gadget in every bigger fitness store for a fair price or use the one that is attached to the treadmill. With this piece of accessory you don’t have to count anything or slow down during your workout routine. Any time you want you can check your heart rate by glancing at your wrist. Modern monitors offer other great features such as an alarm that warns you once you’re off your target zone

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