Trying to Up Your Cardio But Don’t Know Where to Start?

We’ve talked about the importance of cardio and cardio machines, but when it comes to doing cardio, where do you start?  In order to best improve your aerobic endurance it important to have a well developed, individualized and researched-based program. The training program should enhance your strengths and improve any weaknesses. For best results, an aerobic program should exercise the respiratory, cardiovascular, and musculoskeletal systems at a level beyond to what they’re used to. There are 5 different factors that can be changed and manipulated to reach the desired exercise level.

An effective training program should be based on 5 factors:

  1. Exercise mode
  2. Training frequency 
  3. Training intensity
  4. Exercise duration
  5. Exercise progression 

Let’s elaborate on these a little more…

Exercise mode:
The mode is the activity being performed by the athlete. Some mode examples are cycling, running, swimming, and so on. The body is very task specific. This means you get good at what you practice. If you are trying to train for a specific sport it is best to chose an activity that closest mimic the patterns you are trying to improve. For example, when trying to improve your running endurance, chose exercises that relate to running. However, if you are just trying to improve your general endurance, it is best to engage in something called cross-training or participation in multiple aerobic endurance activities. 

Training frequency:
Training frequency is the number of training sessions per day and week. The number of times you train a week depends on intensity and duration. This means if you workout at a high intensity for long sessions, they could be less frequent. However, if workouts are low intensity and less frequent you will need more of them to get the desired result. Similarly, the training status of the individual will also effect the frequency. Training status allows those with higher endurance to train more frequently. However, those just starting out might need more rest between sessions.  

Training intensity:
The key to aerobic training is the balance between intensity and duration. Generally, the higher the exercise intensity, the shorter the exercise duration. Higher intensity aerobic exercise allows for improved oxygen delivery to the working muscle. As mentioned earlier, we want to make sure to overload the body system for best training results.  Although, not training at too high of an intensity, as that would result in early onset of fatigue and end the training session early. The easiest and best way to track the intensity of an exercise is by tracking heart rate.

Exercise duration:
Exercise duration is the length of time of the training session. It is often influenced by the exercise intensity. The longer the exercise duration, the lower the exercise intensity.

Exercise progression:
Progression of an aerobic endurance exercise program initially involves increasing the frequency, intensity, and duration of exercise. Depending on the goal, progression of an exercise program should be on the regular basis but, should not increase more than 10% each week. 


Some types of aerobic endurance training are:

  1. Long, slow distance training: the intensity and duration of this type of training is usually characterized as “conversation” exercise. Meaning, the person should be able to talk while exercising without any additional breathing stress. The training distance should be greater than race distance or the duration should be at least as long is 30 minutes to 2 hours.
  2. Pace/tempo training: this training consists of a series of shorter intervals with brief recovery periods between work intervals. The training intensity is usually slightly higher than the race/competition intensity. 
  3. Interval training: In this type of training, work and rest periods of time are equal and should last 3-5 minutes each. When performing interval training, you are to give it your all and perform at almost your max levels. 
  4. High intensity interval training (HIIT): it is a form of training the uses repeated high intensity exercise bouts intertwined with brief recovery periods. According to the research, the best results are achieved when the athlete spends several minutes of their training session in the 90th% of their max. 
  5. Fartlek training: is a combination of several of the previously mentioned types of training. Although it is generally associated with running, it can also be used for cycling and swimming. A sample training run would involve easy running combined with either hill work or short, fast bursts of running for short time periods. This type of training challenges all body systems and it may reduce the boredom and monotony associated with daily training.

Happy Exercising!

All information in this blog came from the National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you’d like to learn more about working out, check out our page or give us a call today! New Jersey has direct access which means you can come see us without seeing your doctor! We can see you quicker than you could get in to see the doctor, while also saving you both time and money!