Cardiovascular Enthusiasts

It is common to hear fitness professionals and health doctors prescribe subtle to moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise (cardio) to those who are trying to prevent heart disease or lose weight. Quite often, the recommendations constitute something along the lines of “perform 30-60 minutes of steady pace cardio 3-5 times per week maintaining your heart rate at a reasonable level”. Before you just give in to this popular perception and turn out to be the “hamster on the wheel” doing endless hours of boring cardio exercise, I would like you to consider some recent scientific research that indicates that steady pace stamina cardiovascular work might not be all it’s cracked up to be.

First, realize that our bodies are intended to execute physical motion in bursts of exertion followed by recovery, or stop-and-go movement in place of steady state movement. Recent research is suggesting that physical variability is one of the most essential aspects to think about in your work-out. This predisposition can be seen throughout nature as all animals demonstrate stop-and-go movement instead of steady state motion. In fact, humans are the only creatures in nature that try to do “stamina” type physical activities. The majority of competitive sports (with the exception of endurance running or biking) are also based on stop-and-go movement or brief bursts of energy followed by recovery. To examine an illustration of the diverse effects of endurance or steady state training versus stop-and-go training, think about the physiques of marathoners versus sprinters. Most sprinters carry a body type that is very lean, strong, and powerful looking, whereas the usual dedicated marathoner is more often emaciated and weak looking. Now which would you rather look like?

One more factor to keep in mind about the benefits of physical variability is the inner effect of different forms of training on our body. Scientists have known that excessive steady state endurance training (different for everybody, but from time to time defined as more than than 60 minutes for each session most days of the week) raises free radical production in the body, can degenerate joints, reduces immune function, brings about muscle wasting, and can set off a pro-inflammatory reaction in the body that can possibly advance to chronic illnesses. On the other hand, highly variable cyclical exercise has been linked to improved anti-oxidant production in the body and an anti-inflammatory response, a more effective nitric oxide reaction (which can encourage a strong cardiovascular system), and an increased metabolic rate reaction (that can help with weight loss).

Furthermore, steady state endurance exercise only trains the heart at a single precise heart rate range and doesn’t teach it to respond to a variety of every day stressors. On the other hand, highly variable cyclic exercise instructs the heart to respond to and recover from a variety of demands making it less likely to fail when you need it. Think about it this way — Exercise that trains your heart to quickly increase and rapidly decrease can make your heart more capable of handling everyday stress. Tension can affect your blood pressure and heart rate to increase quickly. Steady state running and other endurance exercise does not train your heart to be able to cope with rapid differences in heart tempo or blood pressure.

The significant aspect of variable cyclical training that makes it superior over steady state cardio is the recovery period in between bursts of exertion. That recuperation time is crucially important for the body to elicit a healthy response to an exercise stimulus. Another benefit of flexible cyclic training is that it is considerably more appealing and has lesser drop-out rates than long monotonous steady state cardio programs.

To summarize, some of the potential benefits of variable cyclic training in comparison to steady state endurance exercise are as follows: enhanced cardiovascular health, increased anti-oxidant defense, superior immune function, reduced possibility for joint wear and tear, reduced muscle wasting, increased lasting metabolic rate following work out, and an increased capacity for the heart to control life’s every day stressors. There are many ways you can obtain the benefits of stop-and-go or variable intensity physical training. One of the absolute most effective kinds of variable intensity exercise to truely reduce body fat and bring out major muscular definition is performing wind sprints.

Nearly all competitive sports such as soccer , basketball, racquetball, tennis, hockey, etc. are naturally comprised of highly unpredictable stop-and-go movement. In addition, weight training obviously incorporates short bursts of exertion followed by recuperation periods. Great intensity interval training (varying between high and low intensity intervals on any type of cardio equipment) is yet one more exercise technique that utilizes action and restoration periods. For example, an interval training session on the treadmill might look something like this:

Loosen-up for three to four minutes at a quick walk or light jog;

Interval 1 – run at 8.0 mi/hr for one minute;

Interval 2 – pace at 4.0 mi/hr for one and a half minutes;

Interval 3 – jog at 10.0 mi/hr for 1 minute;

Interval 4 – walk at 4.0 mi/hr for 1.5 minutes;

Repeat those 4 intervals 4 times for a really extreme 20-minute workout.

The take-away implication from this article is to try to teach your body at highly flexible intensity rates for the majority of your routines to get the most beneficial response in terms of heart fitness, fat loss, and muscle maintenance.