Health and Fitness

Cardio: Essential For Losing Weight And Building Muscle!

3 Mins read

As its name suggests, cardio is good for the head, the legs and the heart! But you will see that a good cardiovascular workout is just as important for building muscle as it is for losing weight effectively!

Often opposed, cardio and strength training complement each other perfectly for varied and effective training. You just need to know how to do it!

We will, therefore, see in this article how to properly integrate your cardio sessions into your training and how to optimize your running, cycling or swimming sessions in parallel with your weight training!

  • What are the benefits of cardio?
  • How long should a cardio session last?
    • To stay in shape
    • To lose weight
  • And at what intensity?
  • Cardio or weight training: what to choose?
    • One must know what one wants!
    • Fitness goal
    • CrossFit goal
  • And to go furth….

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What are the benefits of cardio?

Cardiovascular activities are good for you. They can come in different forms: running, sport walking, cycling, rollerblading, swimming, ergometer in the gym, team sports. Depending on your objective and your characteristics, one or more types of activities will be more suitable.

Here are the main benefits that are generally associated with cardio activities:

  • depending on the intensity, mobilization of lipids for energy purposes; increased number and efficiency of mitochondria; increase in the amount of myoglobin; optimization of the use of lipids and carbohydrates by the muscle;
  • cardiac hypertrophy characterized by an increase in the volume of the cavity of the left ventricle and a thickening of its walls for more efficiency;
  • increase in plasma volume and amount of haemoglobin;
  • the decrease in resting heart rate decreases;
  • increased stroke volume at rest and during exercise; this is caused by a greater ventricular volume and better contractility of the myocardium;
  • increased peak cardiac output;
  • better extraction and distribution of blood to muscles by the heart;
  • decreased systolic and diastolic pressures at rest and during submaximal exercise;
  • improvement in respiratory volumes and maximum oxygen volume;
  • reduced risk of cardiovascular disease

You will understand that cardio training is not only interesting for having a “ six-pack ” but quite simply for your health and physical form!

How long should a cardio session last?

For many, cardiovascular activity comes down to long, low-intensity, continuous exertion. However, there are many training methods in order to vary your efforts, to develop your cardio-respiratory system as well as possible and to target your goal:

  • intermittent long, medium and short;
  • fractional ;
  • continuous long, medium and short term;
  • alternating circuit training type;
  • progressive;
  • alternation of pace.

Depending on the type of sport you practice, cardio training will be different in order to best match the specificities of the discipline to be as efficient as possible.

To stay in shape

In a leisure setting,  continuous activity of average intensity practised at least three times a week for at least 30 minutes is an interesting solution to feeling good without spending too much time in the sport .

From a development and performance perspective, it will be necessary to vary the sessions between continuous and intermittent work in the form of cycles in order to allow the development of your maximum aerobic power (maximum power that your cardio-respiratory system can provide via your muscles) and to your endurance with a minimum of 3 sessions per week.

To lose weight

If your goal is to lose weight, the situation will be slightly different. One of the most popular ideas on the matter is that you should do “at least 40 minutes of cardio to kick in the fat ”. And if you do less, there’s no point in drying!

The reality is a little more complex. Indeed, when we talk about doing cardio with a view to weight loss, the duration generally achieved is between 20 minutes and 1 hour approximately. However,  to observe a significantly higher use of fat, it has been proven that your effort must last at least 2 hours. This is when the difference will be more pronounced in favour of fat.

But you should also know that fats are used as an energy substrate a few minutes after the start of the effort, but in an insignificant proportion compared to carbohydrates. It is therefore only around 40 minutes of effort that these represent the main energy substrate and that weight loss is therefore accentuated.

And at what intensity?

In addition to the duration, the intensity of your cardio sessions must also be taken into consideration: many studies show greater use of fat during low-intensity exercise. However, it is important to know that, even at high intensity, their use remains important, as for example during training in HIIT.

And then, besides the intensity or the duration, you also have to think about taking pleasure during your training! Doing the same exercise for 45 minutes on an elliptical machine is neither productive nor interesting. Our bodies are very smart and need a little variation in the sequences. For example, you can start with  2,500 meters of a rowing machine, which should take you between 10 and 12 minutes. Follow with a 1.5km sprint on a treadmill at a pace of between 12 and 13 km / h. Finish with 30 minutes on the elliptical machine.

In summary, to be effective,  your cardio sessions must above all be regular and be accompanied by a healthy and balanced lifestyle and diet

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