Usually the average person will do this without any rhyme or reason, they just do it.
No consideration for heart rate targets or what they’re actually trying to achieve.
Keeping it simple you’ve got 3 main types of CV to program:
Steady State – Long Run
Interval – Planned Sprints
Fartlek – Mixture of sprinting, jogging, walking
Nothing spectacularly new, although you can also hit the old heart muscle by a combination method that is lifting related CV.
Think complexes with dumbbells, bars, bell, bags, etc.
One of the ideas behind the hybrid of weight/CV is to have a change in the muscle composition and gain more mitochondria as a result and this would happen in by playing with density, sustained effort/repeated muscular contractions with a suitable load to really create the desired oxygen debt.
All good for fat-loss too, provided you do some basic maths & tracking.
Any of these methods are great for establishing your heart rate targets:
Old Faithful: 220 – Age
Karvonen Formula: 206.9-(age *.67)-RHR * %Effort+RHR
MAF Method: 180 – Age
Any Online Calculator
Once you’ve gotten the numbers you can begin programming whichever out of the cardio above that suits you.
It is worth remembering that while you may enjoy the more higher intensity/impact, this may not quite be the most optimal if you also plan on achieving other goals such as strength, for example.
Many forget to account for the additional fatigue.
It’s why many can program in lower intensity work, or the Steady State side of things far more easily because they’re not that drawing on the nervous system and don’t always create too much fatigue, provided you’re monitoring your heart rate and don’t turn it into slugfest.
You see that is the common issue, people turn everything into a battle.
Keeping this in mind we can look at the programming using this classic principle: FITT
Frequency – 3 days per week
Intensity – 60% HRR
Time – 20min
Type – Steady State (varied: walk, bike, skip etc)
In the light of knowing about basic and time honoured linear periodisation, you may end up with something like this (for say health/fat loss goal that is).
Say we have someone who is very deconditioned –
Week 1 – x3p/w, 60%HRR, 20min
Week 2 – x3p/w, 60%HRR, 25min
Week 3 – x4p/w, 60%HRR, 22min
Week 4 – x4p/w, 60%HRR, 27min
Week 5 – x5p/w, 60%HRR, 24min
Week 6 – x5p/w, 60%HRR, 29min
Week 7 – x6p/w, 60%HRR, 26min
Week 8 – x6p/w, 60%HRR, 31min
Week 9 – x7p/w, 60%HRR, 28min
Week 10 – x7p/w, 60%HRR, 33min
At this point you may choose to tweak things in block2:
Week 1 – x3p/w, 62%HRR, 30min
Week 2 – x3p/w, 62%HRR, 30min
Week 3 – x4p/w, 64%HRR, 30min
Week 4 – x4p/w, 64%HRR, 30min
Week 5 – x5p/w, 66%HRR, 30min
Week 6 – x5p/w, 66%HRR, 30min
Week 7 – x6p/w, 68%HRR, 30min
Week 8 – x6p/w, 68%HRR, 30min
Week 9 – x7p/w, 70%HRR, 30min
Week 10 – x7p/w, 70%HRR, 30min
^ You can laso use other equations calculate how many potnteial calories you burn in each session, just take it with a pinch of salt, as they’re often a guide, not a gospel.
Chances are you can see the pattern here, after this block the intensity might perhaps stay at 70%, then you may look at increasing the time again, perhaps working towards 45min, 7xp/w with 70%HRR, at which point you may opt for starting to add in some more intense forms of CV.
That is provided the base level health & fitness/conditioning goals have been hit (drop in body fat, lowering of resting heart rate, etc).
Of course the cardio is only one element, you’d also do well to have people in making nutritional improvements in regards to the quality of their foods, a small caloric deficit (if they’re carrying too much excess body fat) and in addition to that overall behaviour/habit change.
The comes the age old question.
Do we do this before or after weights?
Personal preference is as follows:
After or at a completely different time.
In an ideal world where people actually stuck to their word and make the positive lifestyle improvements they speak of doing, they’d do this light CV in the AM upon waking.
Combining that with turning off all electronics at say 9pm, and getting to bed before 11pm, and then starting the day at say 5:30-6am for some quick and rewarding CV will not be too hard.
You can delve into the literature, however this sets people up for the day with various cognitive benefits, more perceived energy and also leads to potentially beneficial habit changes in their attitude/personality (more confident, etc).
Another personal preference is to not eat post CV, just because it’s rarely needed and many will overdo their calorie consumption, so waiting for an hour or two post gentle CV as descried above would be ideal.
Before you panic and think you’ll lose all your gains.
Chances are you won’t, in all fairness you’ll probably gain far more benefits to your current progress due to increase conditioning, better & faster recovery due to improved circulation and a whole host of other benefits too.
So dear people, how much thought do you give to your cardio programming?
I know some of you are keen endurance practitioners & athletes, so sharing your knowledge would make for great reading for everyone.
Please do leave your musings below.