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Cardiovascular Endurance FAQ’s

Cardiovascular Endurance

  • Which form of cardiovascular machine is better between treadmill, cross trainer and bike to improve cardiovascular health?

    Cardiovascular training is done only for one purpose ie to improve cardiovascular health! Exercise cardio vascular Intensity is measured on the basis of target heart rate maintained ie % of maximum heart rate(which is 220 – age) One can choose any machine between treadmill, cross trainer or bike as long as it is comfortable for him to maintain the desired intensity for desired duration. Each of these machines if exercised on with same intensity would offer equal benefits to improve cardiovascular health.

  • Cardiovascular training deliberately at a lower intensity of 60-65% of MHR (maximum heart rate) to ‘burn more percentage of fat’:

    Training at a lower intensity (such as 60-65% of MHR) does burn greater percentage of fat; but it also burns lesser total calories (and thus lesser quantity of fat). It is also of lesser benefit in increasing cardiovascular endurance as it is a smaller challenge to the heart, lungs and cardiovascular system.

  • Cardiovascular training on an empty stomach, when the body is depleted of carbohydrate so that it burns more fat:

    It is true that in the absence of carbohydrates, the mobilization and use of fats for energy is faster. But there is also increased use of protein for energy, leading to even greater muscle breakdown. The result is greater muscle loss, leading to lower BMR and reduced fat burning at rest in the long term. Plus the depleted state of the body impairs performance during the workout & hence gives a less than optimal cardiovascular workout.

  • Cardiovascular training for prolonged duration, such as more than 1 hour to burn more calories:

    This does burn more calories but leads to increased protein use for energy and prolonged muscle breakdown for energy, which does not stimulate muscle repair.After weight training, muscle repair is stimulated due to the powerful muscle breakdown (microtrauma) caused by the overload on the muscle. This acts like a powerful ‘cut’ or ‘wound’ damaging the cell and forcing the body to repair and heal.However, the muscle breakdown for energy during cardiovascular training is too low-grade for the body to feel the need to repair. It may be thought of as a ‘scratch’ to the body. But the body is still damaged by repeated ‘scratching’ without healing.Thus the muscle breakdown during cardiovascular training (without repair) results in muscle loss. This leads to a lower BMR and reduces calorie-burn and fat burning at rest. It may be said that: attempting to increase fat burning for just one hour of the day (during ‘cardio’) can result in reduced fat burning for the rest of the day (due to lower BMR).

  • How can I make my cardio burn more fat?

    The purpose of cardiovascular training is to improve the working of your cardiovascular system, not to burn fat. In fact, the following attempts to target greater fat burning during cardiovascular training can lead to muscle loss, rather than fat loss:

  • Can I stretch before cardio?

    Not really recommended. If you do intensive stretching and your body hasn’t warmed up then the probability of pulling your muscle will increase. Muscles stretch better after a warm up.

  • I only want to shed some weight, so should I do only cardiovascular exercises?

    Cardiovascular exercises such as running on a treadmill are to be used only as a tool to improve your endurance and better the health of your heart. They may be good calorie burners but these activities do nothing to increase your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), i.e. the rate at which you burn calories at rest. A high BMR is most crucial to Fat loss. Only Resistance training such as weight training can increase BMR. Hence if you are serious about fat loss you must weight train along with your cardiovascular activity. 3 days of weight training alternated by 3 days of cardio is the best way to burn fat.

  • The display on some cardio machines shows a lot of calories burnt. How accurate are they?

    Not to the tee. There are many factors that influence the number of calories that one expends during exercise, such as muscle mass, current physical condition and even genetic factors. The number displayed on the equipment tends to be an optimistic mathematic calibration of the machine based on general caloric values given to each activity.

  • Would only cardio help me lose body fat?

    To lose body fat and to keep it off the human body needs to be burning a high number of calories not only in the gym but outside it as well. Very simply put what happens when you do cardio for fat loss, is that you run like the wind on the treadmill for one hour, at the end of which you burn 400 calories, but then you get of the machine and head to the juice bar for a sandwich and in a few bites those 400 calories are back on again and you find yourself back to stage 1 in your quest for fat loss. Whereas when we weight train, micro trauma is sustained by muscle cells, please do not pray for the closure of all gyms yet, this trauma far from being counterproductive, are in fact a positive stimulus for the body to make itself stronger.And the body does so by repairing itself outside the gym for which it continuously uses calories from stored body fat. This is known as the after burn principle which is the primary effect of weight training and which is exactly what will help you not only lose body fat but keep it off most effectively.

  • Swimming is a great cardiovascular exercise as it protects the joints while giving the person a fantastic cardio workout. True or false?

    The first part of this statement is completely true. Swimming involves the entire body & hence is a great workout for overall endurance as long as it involves steady laps in the pool continuously for at least 20 to 45 minutes.The latter part of the statement is debatable to say the least…as what protects joints is not necessarily something that strengthens the joints. The bones & connective tissues such as tendons & ligaments also need controlled stress given to them through strength training to invoke a strengthening response. Healthy joints that are constantly babied in a non-impact environment such as water will weaken as part of the natural process. They will never be prepared for any activity that involves impact…in day-to-day activity you cannot escape impact. In other simpler words…Swimming protects injured or weak joints…In effect if you have injured or weak joints then swimming would be a wise option for cardiovascular activity…but swimming will not strengthen healthy or weak joints. For strengthening you cannot escape weight training.

  • What are the benefits of cardiovascular exercise?

    Cardiovascular exercise improves the health of your heart, improves your endurance, stamina and improves your vital capacity.

  • Which cardio machine is the best for burning maximum calories?

    All are effective for increasing caloric expenditure and increasing endurance and stamina. The intensity at which you perform the exercise is a better aspect to focus on. Performing aerobic exercise at a higher intensity will allow you to burn more calories per unit of time than if the exercise were performed at a lower intensity. If possible, change the mode of cardio you do every few weeks. The modes should include cardio activities that involve constant movement of the upper-body as well. This will help develop more comprehensive muscular endurance. This constant change in cardio activities is termed as CROSS TRAINING.

  • Is high intensity cardio better or low intensity cardio better for fat burning?

    For any exercise form to keep giving you results, progression in intensity is of paramount importance. This means that, as you get better in your cardio vascular abilities you must push harder to get even better. Overall caloric loss during the workout of high intensity cardio is definitely and obviously more than low intensity cardio. Low intensity cardio (60% of MHR) is considered to be ideal as it burns a larger percentage of fat as opposed to carbohydrates. But the overall superior caloric loss of high intensity cardio such as interval training causes a greater loss of total fat.People with pre existing medical conditions (Especially cardiac conditions, hypertension etc.) must stick to low intensity cardio.

  • If I do cardio my muscle mass will go down. Is that true?

    This depends on whether you are doing cardio regularly or excessively. It also depends on somatotype of the body. People with excessively fast metabolism (Ectomorph’s) are always under weight and they have difficulty in gaining lean tissue…such people should stay away from cardio or do it no more than twice a week as they waste away muscle a lot easier than others. Endomorphs or people with sluggish metabolic rates can do cardio at least 5 times a week along with 3 days of resistance training…The gifted athletic kinds (Mesomorphs) should evenly space out 3 cardio and 3 weight training sessions a week. The sessions should not last more than an hour each and if you feel you can go on much longer…then you need to increase intensity by increasing speed, resistance or inclination. Cardio done in this manner can only make you fitter and can also help in intensifying your weight training workouts as you will get less winded and will be capable of pushing a lot harder without getting tired.

  • If I want to lose fat quickly should I do lots of cardio?

    The worst thing you can do for fat loss is excessive cardio. It is a surefire method of stripping the body of lean tissue and thus slowing down BMR. In fact cardio exercises are very inefficient fat burners…but that does not under mime their importance as cardio workouts are the key to improving your stamina and endurance (A key factor in general and overall fitness.) Also it is important to note that muscle loss & the resultant drop in BMR can happen through excessive weight training as well…the drop in BMR happens through overtraining as it causes the body to breakdown at a faster rate than it can rebuild.

  • Which form of cardiovascular machine is better amongst the treadmill, Elliptical cross trainer and bike to improve cardiovascular health?

    Cardiovascular training is done for only one purpose i.e. to improve cardiovascular health! Cardio vascular Intensity is measured on the basis of target heart rate maintained i.e. % of maximum heart rate MHR (220 – age) One can choose any machine between treadmill, cross trainer or bike as long as it is comfortable for him to maintain the desired intensity for desired duration. Each of these machines if exercised on with the same intensity would offer equal benefits to improve cardiovascular health.

  • Isn’t walking the best form of exercise?

    Walking only addresses the issue of cardiovascular fitness. It does nothing for the musculoskeletal system. Hence however good walking is as an exercise, it cannot be the only one you do. A workout plan must include cardiovascular training and strength training together to address all aspects of fitness.

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