Training intensity can have a massive effect on your hormonal balance, metabolism, time spent training, overall calorie burning and thus how you look and feel. Cardio seems to be the sticking point for a lot of people, how long should I be training? What should I be doing for my cardio? How hard should I be pushing myself? Etc.
Take a seat! Lets give this a quick run through.
I highly suggest incorporating HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) into your weekly or daily training plan. HIIT is a type of training where you exert yourself to your maximum (10/10, feels like you're dying) for a short period of time, followed by a short period of rest or active recovery, equal to or less than the length of your time spent working. The idea is to reach your VO2 max, or the maximum amount of oxygen your body can take in during your working period, then lower your heart rate and oxygen intake during the recovery period. If you are near your VO2 max you will not be able to speak, since your body is busy using all that oxygen to keep you alive while you're rowing your heart out on that rower. There are many benefits to HIIT. First of all the TIME benefit! Imagine if you could burn the same amount of calories that would currently take you 60 minutes, in 20-30 minutes or less! No more "I didn't have time to do any cardio this week" thanks to HIIT! Then there is everyone's favourite - the hormonal benefit! Without delving too deeply into this topic, HIIT training has a similar effect on your hormones as weight or resistance training does. When you are reaching those maximum levels of exertion, your body will be able to release more testosterone, which helps increase your overall fat burning potential, and minimize fat storage. Be sure to check out this article to find out more about hormones and fat loss - https://www.visionpt.com.au/studios/north-sydney/articles/weight-loss/turn-your-body-into-a-fat-burner!-by-jamie-crowe/. These hormonal benefits go hand in hand with the metabolic benefits of HIIT. HIIT can stimulate your metabolism enough that it can continue to burn calories for several hours after you wipe the sweat off and leave the studio. That's getting top quality bang for your buck and top time utilization. As you make HIIT a regular part of your training regime, you will need to make the workouts progressively harder for yourself. There is a few ways we can do this :
Increase the work period or decrease the rest period.
- For example you may start out doing a 30 second sprint with 30 second rest. As you progress you can change it to a 40 second sprint with 30 second rest, or to a 30 second sprint with a 15 or 20 second rest.
- Increase the amount of rounds you do. If you were doing tabata style training with 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off for 8 rounds - bump it up to 10 rounds and see how you go.
- Increase the resistance on the machine you're using.
- Increase the time spent doing HIIT per session or week.
Progression is essential to your results. A lot of plateaus can be caused by lack of breaking through the mental barrier of "this is how much I do" or "its 10/10 I can't go harder! 10/10!". We need to make sure you build a character that is excited to shoot for 11/10, and that will only happen once you do it. Once you start seeing yourself progress you will be more excited to go further and further each session. Now we've stated a lot of benefits of HIIT, but light or moderate cardio still has its place, and should still be a part of our training programs! Although it may not have as great metabolic benefits as HIIT does, light or moderate cardio can be a great "incidental" calorie burner. For example - walking to work or to your PT session. It can also be a great way to burn calories through the week while spending time with the family - bushwalks, walks or jogs on the beach, taking the dog for a walk after work, or whatever it is realistic and sustainable for you. Light or moderate cardio can assist with stress levels - which if elevated for an extended amount of time can hinder fat loss potential. This training can make it easy for your body to utilize fat for fuel depending on the length of the session, it can increase your cardiovascular fitness and health and it can be beneficial for your recovery. Long story short, when you are booked in for hard cardio, work to your absolute maximum, don't kid yourself, because you can not lie to your body or your hormones, and be sure to push yourself harder each session - PROGRESS. When you are going for your light walk or moderate jog, slow your breathing down and let your endurance progress. And of course, when you are resting, rest! Let your body recover from the stresses you've placed it under so it can work to and burn fat to its full potential the next day. Most importantly, have fun with it! Get sweaty and let those endorphins rush!*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.