Having a female fitness cardio plan that delivers results is a key component of any fitness program. Just like a car engine not working properly without all its parts – a female fitness routine without all the components will not work!
“What should I do for cardio?” is one of my most popular questions so let’s scuba dive with the topic!
Your Two Cardio Options
There are essentially two types of cardio: high-intensity and steady-state. Before we go any further, let’s make sure we’re on the same page as to how we define each of these two.
Often, when I mention high-intensity cardio to someone, they immediately say, “Yeah, the cardio I do is high-intensity.”
Then I ask them how long their intervals are and they either look at me like I’m from another planet, or they think they miss understood what I’m asking and say “I go for 30 minutes.”
High-intensity, at least as for purposes of this article, is defined as something so intense that you couldn’t keep it up for more than 60 seconds — no matter how badly you wanted to! So even though your incline treadmill walk may feel like “high-intensity cardio,” it isn’t.
Running at 10 mph on a 10 degree incline for 10 seconds; now that is high-intensity!
Now that we’re on the same page as to the definition, you can clearly see that to do high-intensity cardio, you’d have to do it in spurts — do some, rest, then do some more, and so on. That’s exactly what we call high-intensity interval training, or HIIT (pronounced “hit”).
When most people think of cardio, they think of steady-state cardio. For that reason, I often simply refer to it as regular cardio. Since high-intensity cardio has its’ own, cool acronym, let’s refer to steady-state cardio as “SSC.”
Steady-state cardio is any cardio that’s done at an intensity low enough that it can be maintained for a longer period of time. While you may warm-up and cool-down, any cardio session where you keep roughly the same pace throughout your session is steady-state.
Ever go to the gym and think, “Well I have a lot of fat to lose – better jump on the treadmill” or “I ate way too many sweets this weekend – I better do CARDIO”.
Of course you have, we all have.
What you probably don’t know is that while you are slowly burning “some” calories, others are stripping twice as much fat off their bodies and in half the time!
Here Are The Facts:
- You can burn fat 2x FASTER and in HALF the time by incorporating High Intensity Training (HIT) into your exercise routine.
- Cardiovascular exercise (slow and at a steady pace) burns much fewer calories than HIT.
- Doing too much cardio is tough on your joints and ligaments.
- Too much cardio will result in burning muscle instead of fat.
Here Is The Science
When it comes to weight loss, it doesn’t matter what type of fuel (food) you use. What matters is how many calories you burn as opposed to how many calories you take in.
In order to lose fat you must have a negative energy expenditure. Simple!
Energy out > Energy in
The Basics of Burning Fat
Our energy comes from fat, carbs and protein. Which one our body utilizes depends on the kind of activity we are performing. Most people want to use fat for energy. Sounds legitimate as we assume the more fat we can use as fuel, the less fat we’ll have in our bodies. But using more fat doesn’t automatically lead to losing more fat.
Understanding the best way to burn fat starts with some basic facts on HOW your body gets its energy:
- The body primarily uses carbs and fats for fuel. A small amount of protein is used during exercise but protein is mainly used to repair the muscles after exercise.
- The ratio of these fuels will shift depending on the activity you are doing.
- Given the metabolic pathways available to break down carbs for energy are more efficient than the pathways available for fat breakdown, the body will rely more on carbs for fuel than fat during HIT. This is good.
- For long, slower exercise fat is used more for energy than carbs.
When it comes to weight loss in female fitness cardio programs, it doesn’t matter what type of fuel you use. What matters is how many calories you burn as opposed to how many calories you take in.
That said…..you burn WAY more calories during High Intensity Training than your standard female fitness cardio aerobic exercise.
Building a HIIT Program
Even if you’re a COMPLETE beginner you can introduce yourself to interval training workouts with 3-5 minutes and add 1-2 minutes each week.
You MUST respect the intensity factor involved in interval training and not do too much too soon or else you risk injury.
Here’s my step mill interval training workout on the step mill:
30 minutes of 1 minute intervals. I go HARD (80-90% intensity) for 1 minute and then SLOW (30-40% intensity) for a minute. That means I do 15 HARD intervals in total and this revs up your metabolic rate to burn calories for up to 36 hours after your workout is done! WOW!
If you’re a beginner you could start with a 6 minute workout. 1 minute hard and 1 minute easy and remember, 1 minute hard is YOUR hard, not MY hard.
Work at YOUR level of current female fitness cardio level.
As with your weight training, be sure to take in a post-workout drink (or quickly absorbed meal) to help replenish lost glycogen and repair the muscle tissues.
Think about it this way – when you sit or sleep, you’re in your prime fat-burning mode. But you’ve probably never contemplated the idea of sleeping more to lose weight, as lovely as that thought is. The bottom line: Just because you’re using more fat as energy doesn’t mean you’re burning more calories. Take these tips for the ultimate in female fitness cardio weight loss.
For an instructional video on HIIT training check out this link: