- Anaerobic Cardio (Conditioning); and
- Aerobic Cardio
Both types of cardio are beneficial, but both types may not always be optimal.
So what are some ways to determine the optimal type of cardio for you?
The primary determinant would be your goals.
Typical results from using the appropriate form of cardio would be:
- Fat loss
- Improved conditioning
- Healthier heart and lungs; and
- Improved recovery
Cardiovascular training is simply a style of exercise that improves the body's ability to use and generate energy.
This energy generation prevents fatigue and allows for optimal performance to continue for longer periods of time.
The type of cardiovascular training performed should always be governed by your primary goal. Whether your goal is a marathon, triathlon, basketball game, fat loss or general well being, there is a specific type of training for that.
To this end, cardiovascular training is not inherently good or bad; however, applying the wrong training type can have negative consequences, i.e. not attaining your desired goal. To see how the wrong type of cardiovascular training can have negative consequences, let's look at how each type affects the body.
Low Intensity Steady State Cardio: (Long duration biking, jogging etc.)
- Develops heart and lung capacity
- Increases the size of our capillaries (allows for better transport of blood)
- Burns a large amount of calories if duration is long enough
- Repeated bouts may lead to unhealthy joints
- Relatively high volume may lead to muscle loss (results in weight loss instead of fat loss)
- Fat loss can occur, but at a much lower rate of muscle loss
- Calorie burn ends at completion of training bout
High Intensity Cardio/Conditioning: (Sprints, Circuit Weight Training, Plyometrics etc.)
- Develops ability to repeat intense movements
- Preserves muscle mass
- Burns a large amount of calories in minimal time
- Relatively high volumes may inhibit strength development
- Calorie burn continues even after training bout
- Due to extended calorie burn; more fat is lost over time
- Extremely tiresome due to intensity
Mixture of High/Low Intensity Cardio/Conditioning i.e. Interval Training: (e.g. Sprint for 30 seconds then walk for 60 seconds)
This type of training is great for providing the benefits of both styles. Caution must still be paid to volume in order to prevent adverse effects to strength and/or muscle mass.
Wrapping it all up.
Cardiovascular training is not inherently bad.
Both Low Intensity and High Intensity training can be beneficial.
Your primary goal should always be your guide in deciding which type of cardio to implement in your training.