Even for some elite athletes, there are six letters that instill a sense of dread and fear, six letters that are just a necessary evil to help them achieve their goals. When you play word association with those six letters, most people will pair them up with words such as “hell,” “exhausting,” “grueling,” and “not for me thanks.” Those six letters are C-A-R-D-I-O.
What is cardio?
Cardio is short for the word “Cardiovascular” and refers to exercise, which you perform to raise your heart rate. When you perform cardio, you’re likely trying to achieve multiple goals. Most commonly, you’re looking to lose body fat. When you raise your heart rate, your body demands more fuel to be able to perform; it draws this from body fat. You might also be looking to improve your heart health. Your heart is a muscle, and, therefore, it requires training to become stronger. This is where cardio comes in. When you perform cardiovascular exercise, your heart has to work harder to pump blood to muscles and organs to facilitate performance.
LISS or HIIT
There are two ways in which people commonly perform cardio. Low-intensity steady-state (LISS) or high-intensity interval training (HIIT)
LISS training is conducted at a steady pace, not at full speed. It is usually performed for an extended period as the level of output is maintainable over an extended period. Due to the less taxing nature of LISS training, it is more gentle on joints and muscles. You’re much less likely to suffer injury. It is particularly useful training for endurance events as it trains your body to be able to handle physical exertion over a more extended period. The less demanding nature of LISS makes it more suitable for beginners and older people.
HIIT training gained popularity in the late 2000s as anecdotal evidence, supported by some studies, appeared to show that it was a superior form for burning body fat. HIIT training involves splitting your training up into periods of high intensity “bursts,” and low intensity “rests.” You alternate between the bursts and rests typically at a ratio of 1:3 for beginners. So the period of low intensity “rest” will be around three times as long as the high intensity “burst.” So you will sprint for 20 seconds and then jog for 60 seconds. You will typically do this for around 4 to 7 bursts, to begin with. As you become more advanced, you will either add more bursts or increase the length of the bursts.
Which One Is Best For Me?
Over the last couple of years, opinion seems to be that time largely dictates the type of cardio you opt to perform. If you have less time, you may benefit more from performing HIIT. However, the increased likelihood of injury and burnout has seen a lot of athletes switch to LISS. The best way to look at it is this: The best form of cardio for you is the one that you’re going to stick to. If you find that you’re too short of time, you’re more likely to stick to and benefit from HIIT. Just be sure to practice safe intensity training and do everything you can to avoid injury. If you have the time to spare, many coaches prefer to prescribe LISS as it still helps you burn fat but also has the added bonus of being less impactful on joints and muscles. It’s also important to consider something else before you begin your cardio journey; allergy testing.
You read that right. Allergy testing is essential before starting any cardio program. Why? Let’s take a look at a symptom of allergy;
When you are living with an unidentified allergy, you are exposing yourself to an increased risk of airway congestion. When your body encounters an allergen, it can lead to inflammation, which causes the airways to narrow. This makes it more challenging to fill your lungs and provide the essential oxygen you need to allow your body to perform. This can lead to muscle cramping and early-onset fatigue. Allergy testing can help you identify substances or foods you need to avoid to be able to perform at an optimum level. We have a range of allergy testing to suit your budget.