Cardiovascular fitness can be defined simply as your body’s ability to get oxygen and blood to the muscles.
- When you do physical activity and your pulse quickens and your breathing gets deeper, you are using your cardiovascular system.
- You can improve your cardiovascular system’s efficiency through regular training.
- The short term used when referring to cardiovascular exercise is Cardio.
This is the number of beats per minute that your heart is beating.
Max Heart Rate
Your maximum heart rate (HR max) is the theoretical number of beats per minute that your heart is capable of producing. We can guess at this number or we can do a “max heart rate test” but that is a bit tricky and certainly not very fun. Your heart rate is your guide for cardiovascular exercise intensity.
Aerobic Vs Anaerobic
- Aerobic literally means with oxygen while anaerobic means without oxygen.
- The Aerobic training zone is the training intensity where you are burning fuel with oxygen.
- The Anaerobic training zone is the training intensity where you are burning fuel without oxygen.
- The Anaerobic Threshold is the point at which the aerobic, oxygen-burning system can no longer supply enough energy to meet the demands of the exercise and you begin to produce lactic acid. That’s the stuff that hurts! Once over 85% HR max, you will not last longer than a few minutes unless you decrease the intensity. High caliber endurance athletes can feel the point where they are about to cross their Anaerobic Threshold and can operate for long periods of time just below it.
The Low Intensity = Fat Loss Myth
It is a myth that low intensity is best for fat loss just because more fat is burned for fuel as a percentage of the total calories burned.
- Low Intensity (L.I. for short) burns about 50% fat for fuel while High Intensity (H.I.) burns about 40%. This is not a big difference.
Say, for example, you burn 100 calories in 20 minutes of L.I. work compared to 160 calories in 10 minutes of HI work, you’ve still burned more total fat doing HI.
- Low Intensity
100 calories x 50% = 50 calories
- High Intensity
160 calories x 40% = 64 calories
- High intensity training will also boost your metabolism long AFTER the workout is done. This does not happen with low intensity training. High Intensity training is a powerful fat loss tool, but should only be used by trainers who already have a good level of fitness.
The basic idea when you’re trying to lose fat is to create a caloric deficit. The type of training does not matter so much as creating that deficit. High Intensity training just creates the deficit more efficiently than Low Intensity training.
Training Intensity or Perceived Effort (PE)
This refers to how hard you feel you are working. We have a scale for this Rate of Perceived Effort RPE. For example, a rating of zero may be equivalent to sitting on the couch watching the game, while a 10 would be assigned to that feeling of being doubled over, winded and on the verge of wanting to throw up from exertion.