How Intense are You? – Understanding Cardio Intensity Levels

Six-pack abs, a healthier heart, weight loss, endurance and performance are just some of the many benefits that doing cardiovascular training can provide. Of course you want every benefit that comes with the energy and effort that you put into your workout, so it is essential to understand how the intensity and duration of your cardio workouts affect your body and fitness goal. Cardio workouts are classified in two main groups: Moderate and Vigorous intensity.

Any activity that causes your breathing and heart to speed up, from mowing the lawn to running a marathon, is an aerobic or cardio exercise, but the intensity level is dependent upon how hard your body is working while engaged in the activity. Both moderate and vigorous forms of cardiovascular activities are considered aerobic, which means that as you perform them your body uses large amounts of oxygen. The difference between the two is related to how hard your body is working; you can determine the intensity level of your cardio by the physical signs that your body tells you and using the talk test.

  • Moderate intensity aerobic activity means you’re working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat. Talk Test – One way to tell is that you’ll be able to talk, but not sing the words to your favorite song.
  • Vigorous intensity aerobic activity means you’re breathing hard and fast, and your heart rate has gone up quite a bit. Talk Test – If you’re working at this level, you won’t be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.[i]

So which is best for you, moderate or vigorous intensity cardio?

That depends on your personal goal and preference. For example, if you are someone who prefers to get their workouts done fast or has time constraints, then doing vigorous intensity cardio may be more suited to your needs. On the other hand, if your goal is to run a marathon then you need to train your body to endure moderate intensity cardio work over a long duration of time so your body can adapt.

The most important thing for your health is to make sure that you regularly challenge your body by doing cardio intensive activities. At a minimum you should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, but understand that you attain greater health benefits when you spend more time doing cardio than the minimum.[ii]

Find activities and an intensity level that leave you feeling invigorated about your cardiovascular workout. Also, create fun goals to achieve like running a 5k race, hiking a challenging trail or competing in a basketball tournament that keep you motivated along the way to sculpting a healthier you!

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Posted on May 31, 2012, in LA Fitness, LA Fitness Blog - Living Healthy, LA Fitness Blog - Top Tips, la fitness reviews, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Any suggestion for simple cardio activities at home?

  2. Prahran Persoanl Trainer

    Once you got a good fitness base fartlek training is a great way to improve your VO2 and increase your metabolic rate. So increase your intensity guys and force your body to change. Now I have to do a 5km fartlek session!!

  3. Holy Guacamole! Gotta love cardio! Moderate intensity levels, where your target heart rate zone is between 60%-75% of age predicted heart rate max is a great way to burn fat and lose weight. Vigorous intensity levels between 80%-90% of APHR Max will tap into your glycogen stores and increase your aerobic capacity, which is a great training zone for athletic performance in endurance events. “Fartlek” training, mentioned by the above user is a Swedish term meaning “speed play” where you perform a moderate intensity activity and interspese the workout with brief vigorous bursts of speed lasting maybe 30-60 sec. Its a fun way to get cardio and aerobic bnefits in a single workout. Interval simply means you do something hard and intense, and then take a rest period, then do another intense period, rest, etc. Word up and Big Ups to all ya’ll cardio Kings!

  4. Target Heart Rates for Age-Predicted Heart Rate Max Equation: [(220-age)-ressting heart rate X Desired % + resting heart rate]. So, for 60%-70% of HR Max Target Heart rate zone, just plug 60%, run the equation, then repeat for 70%. To find your resting heart rate, five minutes after waking in the morning, while still in bed, take your pulse, either a 15 sec. X 4, or for the full 60 sec. Thanks, and get in the Zone!, heart rate zone! WWWooooooooo!

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