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The 3 best ways to improve cardio fitness

Cardio fitness

When considering improving your cardiovascular or cardiopulmonary fitness there are really only three ways to do this or more accurately there are three techniques to get you much fitter.

But before i get to these there are also three other points to consider and these are the three main principles of fitness Frequency, intensity and duration. Frequency being how often - ideally 3-5 times per week, intensity how hard - ideally 70-85% of maximum heart rate or slightly hard to hard on a RPE scale and duration being the length of the exercise time - ideally somewhere between 20 minutes and an hour.

The three technique to use when improving cardio fitness are:

1. Steady rate training - This is when you can maintain the pace you are working at from anywhere between 10 minutes and 60 minutes approximately. This in heart rate terms is about 70% of maximum heart rate and is termed aerobic training. This is when you are jogging, running, cycling or swimming for any length of time. You utilise fat and glycogen jointly as well as improving your general fitness.

2. Interval training - This type of training is defined broadly as high intensity work followed by periods of recovery i.e. run fast for two minutes and then walk slow for two minutes and repeat, this has been proved by many studies to be far more effective at fat loss than steady rate training as for the same time period you burn more calories, keep your metabolism higher after exercise for longer and also keeps the body guessing as to what is coming next.

3. Fartlek training - This type of training is a combination of the above and more. Typically you could walk fast, run fast, jog up hills and constantly change terrain. You can basically run whatever distance at whatever pace and keep changing the pace. Originally derived from the Swedish word speedplay.

If you use the three techniques described above in a structured training programme and manipulate the principles also described above then you will achieve a very good level of cardio fitness.

Courtesy of Fitness Master, Personal Trainer

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