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How hard should I be working out to get a good cardiovascular workout?

James Weaver (Milford, CT) on Oct 31, 2011
You should find out your maximum and minimum heart rate. From this you will know not to exceed the maximum or go below the minimum. In general, if you have trouble speaking then you are doing okay. If you are speaking normally, then you need to bring it up a notch or two. If you are out of breath or gasping for air, then you are overdoing it.
Christina Tyler (Indian Trail, NC) on Oct 31, 2011
My philosophy is to work out smart, not hard. A great tool to use on yourself during cardio, is the "talk test." You want to be able to talk but it should be uncomfortable to hold a conversation. If conversation is easy for you, kick it up a notch.
Stefan Aschan (New York, NY) on Oct 31, 2011
As a personal trainer, strength coach and naturepath, I hear the same thing every year: "Stefan, I gained fat over here," and "Stefan, I gained fat over there." Be honest. Are you really surprised by the change in your body composition due to your calorie intake over the last few months? You shouldn't be. First, understand that your body's metabolism slows down 2 percent for each decade of your life after age 20. This means that your body burns calories more slowly with each passing year. As a result, you should also be more careful with your calories as you get older. How much more careful? You can figure it out with the simple calculation below that will give you your basal metabolic rate, or BMR: Take your desired weight in pounds. Multiply this number by 11 if you are a woman, 12 if you are a man. Subtract 2 percent of this total for every 10 years after age 20. Add 10 percent. This represents the calories you need to maintain your daily life functions. The number you end up with is your minimum daily calorie intake. So say you are a 50-year-old man who would like to keep your weight at a trim 140 pounds. Here's how you would calculate your BMR: Desired weight = 140 140 '- 12 = 1,680 1,680 - 3(1,680 '- .02) = 1,57 9 1,579 + 158 = 1,737 calories per day Now keep in mind that some of you are more active than others. Hence, you should add on 180 calories per hour of housework (or if your house is already clean, feel free to come by and help me!), 650 calories per hour of cycling, 800 calories for every hour of running, and 1,200 calories per hour for cross-country skiing. If you want to lose body fat, however, calorie control is only one side of the equation. You also need to know how to burn the most fat calories. Interval training! Yes, you need to push yourself. You need to vary your training intensity between 65 percent of your total capacity to 85 percent and 95 percent. This approach will help you to lose the most calories from fat. To understand the benefits of true interval training, let us look into three different training approaches for a 150-pound person who rides a stationary bike for 30 minutes, This person who is exercising for 30 minutes at 65 percent will burn overall 82 calories, of which could be 41 from fat. He will exercise at the same speed and do the same activity day after day. Think about it. Have you been in the gym and seen people doing the same thing every time? And when you see them two years later, does their body still look the same? I have seen this many times, and I don't call this working out, but rather flaking out. This training would fall in the aerobic category -- also referred to as a low intensity workout. If this same person is still exercising for 30 minutes but increases the intensity to 85 percent, this individual will burn 157 calories, of which 100 calories could be from fat. This is the person who is sweating all over the treadmill, has water bottles next to the bike and a second T-shirt to change into nearby. I have seen this many times as well, and I have not seen this person change either. Yes, this individual has much stronger aerobic capacity. But again, if you take this person into a different environment, he or she will have difficulty performing at the same intensity level. This training would be without oxygen, in the anaerobic category -- also referred to as a medium intensity workout. Now it gets interesting. When this person performs true interval training for 30 minutes and changes the intensity level of his or her workout from 65 percent to 95 percent and back to 65 percent, this person will burn 173 calories. With this kind of training, a person is able to tap into both energy systems, aerobic and anaerobic. This is true interval training and is referred to as a high intensity workout. These workouts are a killer, and if you don't feel like you are challenged and tired after those workouts, you have not done a high intensity workout. The fact is that interval training burns more calories and fat, and it increases motivation, endurance and metabolism. Stay focused, Stefan Stefan Aschan, M.Sc., author of the Alpine Weight Loss Secrets, is a fitness consultant in New York City.
Dan Kritsonis (Bellevue, WA) on Oct 31, 2011
There is no best cardio exercise. Anything that you enjoy and gets your heart rate into your target zone is good. It's not what you do but how hard you work. It's best to work out on duration not on how fast you can do the exercise.Start off with 10 to 30 minutes three times per week for a beginner then work it up to 60 minutes. Once you've gotten used to exercise (and are up to 30 minutes of continuous movement) you can start working on your intensity. How hard you work is a crucial factor in your workout because: •How hard you work is directly related to how many calories you burn •Raising intensity is the best way to burn more calories when you're short on time. •It's an easy part of your workout to change--all you do is work harder So bottom line is keep within you target heart range and rate of perceived exertion recommendations.
Mercedes Dunn (Worcester, MA) on Oct 31, 2011
The best way to determine if you are working out to your maximum potential is to have a cardiorespiratory assessment performed by your health care provider or a qualified, certified fitness trainer. The test will accurately determine your maximum heart rate (MHR). The most accurate and safest is a stress test that only a physician should perform. Other tests include a SubMax step test, SubMax walking test, and a 2-4 minute test.
Franklin Antoian (Delray Beach, FL) on Dec 10, 2011
Refer to your Targer Heart Rate for the correct cardio intensity level. Here is a link to a free THR calculator: