The Perfect Cardio Program


Perform three to four steady-state aerobic workouts per week, starting at 20–30 minutes per session and gradually building up to 90 minutes over time. (You don’t have to go that long, but don’t go any longer.) Perform two HIIT workouts per week, spaced at least three days apart to ensure recovery.

Whenever possible, do the aerobic workouts in the morning on an empty stomach to burn more fat. Separate these workouts as much as you can from weight training sessions. So, if you plan to lift on the same day, do cardio in the morning and lift that evening.

If you need to do HIIT and lift on the same day, keep the workouts separated by several hours. If you must perform them together, do HIIT first, then lift.

Steady-State Sample Workout

Perform any low-intensity activity, such as walking, cycling, or stair–stepping. Keep your heart rate between 120 and 150 beats per minute. You can use a heart-rate monitor to track it, or measure the pulse in your neck with your fingers: Count the beats for six seconds, then multiply by 10 to approximate the number of beats in one minute.

HIIT Sample Workout

Perform any high- intensity activity, such as sprinting, jumping rope, or kickboxing. You could also perform body-weight exercises in a circuit. Work with all-out intensity for 10–15 seconds, and then rest 45–60 seconds. Repeat for 20–30 minutes. For kickboxing (mitt or bagwork), throw hard or fast punches and kicks, then shadowbox lightly while recovering.

Increase the work interval over time, and boost the rest period accordingly.

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