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Old 06-25-2004, 03:11 PM   #1
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Talking How much cardio should I do each week?

Hi, all! This was buried in another post, and I realized I had gotten off that topic, so I'm reposting just that section here. I'd love your advice on how much cardio is too much, and how much is too little!

Unfortunately, I can only go to the gym on Monday/Wed./Friday --it's a free service at work, but only open then. So I usually do my cardio workout then. Would it be better to skip the leg intensive cardio on Wed. and just do arm weights to give myself time to rest my leg muscles? If so, then I would only have three cardio workouts that week--elliptical for 30 mins twice and one hour of Jazzercise...about 3/4 of which is cardio. Would that be enough?

How does this look?

Mon: 30 mins. elliptical with stretching, 10-12 mins arm weights, Bellydance fitness video, 10 mins slow walk with dog.
Tues: 50 crunches, 30 side crunches (touching elbow to knee), 30 mins. bellydancing video (not working legs specifically), 10 mins slow walk with dog.
Wed: Arm weights at gym, 10 mins slow walk with dog.
Thurs: 50 crunches, 30 side crunches (touching elbow to knee), 1 hour Jazzercise class, 10 mins slow walk with dog.
Friday:30 mins. elliptical with stretching, 10-12 mins arm weights, 10 mins slow walk with dog.
Saturday:Gardening, Belly dance basic dance video, 10 mins slow walk with dog.
Sunday:20 min. Yoga/Pilates video, 10 mins slow walk with dog.

Thanks for all of your help. I realize most of you are not physical trainers, but I would love your advice based on personal experience. If anyone knows of a website or book that might help me, I would love to hear about it!
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Old 06-26-2004, 10:51 AM   #2
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Laurie here is an article from about.com HTH

The Truth About the Fat Burning Zone Your Cardio Workout

How Often Should You Exercise?
When it comes to cardio, it's up to you and your goals how much you do and how often. For beginners, start off with three days of cardio exercise for 20 minutes or so, adding time each week. If you're an intermediate or advanced exerciser, you can do cardio anywhere from 4 to 6 days a week, keeping in mind that each workout should vary in time, intensity and activity.

How Hard Should You Work?
While you won't burn as many calories in the 'fat burning' zone, you can certainly add it to your weekly routine. These workouts are great for endurance since you can exercise for a longer period of time than if you're working out at a higher intensity. Each week, have at least one long workout in the lower end of your THR and one shorter workout at the high end of your THR. Another option is interval training, an intense workout where you alternate high intensity intervals and recovery intervals.

To monitor your intensity, make sure you keep track of your target heart rate, or use a perceived exertion chart to make sure you're not working too hard.

Building Your Routine
Below is a chart detailing a SAMPLE week of cardio workouts for a person who exercises five days a week. This is simply an example of how to incorporate different types of cardio workouts into a typical week. Modify the workouts according to your own fitness level, time constraints, and likes and dislikes. The target heart rate zone (THR) is based on a person with a THR zone between 150 to 177.

Day Intensity Level Duration Type/THR
Monday Focus: Interval Duration: 20-30 minutes Alternate 1-min sprint with 2 min walking.
THR -sprints: 170-175, recovery: 150-160
Tuesday Focus: Endurance Duration: 45-60 minutes Walking or Slow jog on treadmill
THR - 150-160
Wednesday Focus: Rest Duration: 0 minutes
Thursday Focus: Intensity/Endurance Duration: 30 minutes Kickboxing
THR - 160-165
Friday Focus: Intensity/Endurance Duration: 30-45 minutes Elliptical Trainer
THR - 160-165
Saturday Focus: Endurance Duration: 30-60 minutes Walking or aerobics class
THR - 150-160

Don't forget to:

*warm up and cool down for each workout
*drink lots of water (take a sip every 15 minutes during your workout)
*stretch after your workout
*eat a small, well-balance snack an hour or two before you hit the gym.
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Old 06-27-2004, 09:14 AM   #3
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Thanks, Michelle...that helps! : For those of you who use the target heart rate to help you decide if you are working hard enough, how do you measure it? Do you use something on your wrist? If I stopped long enough to take my pulse, I fear that I would reduce the intensity of the workout. On the elliptical, the machine does it for me.

I found a neat article (that also mentioned the pulse monitor) on webmd:

Kick It Up With Cardio Exercise

Before you jump on that Stairmaster or start pounding the pavement, make sure you have a cardio exercise plan that will give you the most bang for your muscle burn.

By Heather Hatfield
WebMD Feature Reviewed By Michael Smith, MD

Whether it's pounding the pavement, logging miles on the bike, or climbing those stairs that seem to go nowhere, it's all about cardio exercise. But other than a sweaty t-shirt, what do you have to show for your workout? A slimmer stomach? Killer quads? Are you exercising for the right amount of time to reap the full health benefits of cardiovascular fitness, or often enough?

Exercise experts, including fitness maven Denise Austin, answer cardio questions for WebMD, so you can make the most of your muscle burn.

Cardio Exercise: The Heart of the Matter

"Cardiovascular exercise is any type of exercise that increases the work of the heart and lungs," says Tommy Boone, PhD, a founding member of the American Society of Exercise Physiologists. "Walking, jogging, and running are common forms of cardiovascular, or aerobic, exercise."

From running and walking, to swimming, elliptical cross-training, biking, Stairmaster, and rowing -- to name a few -- the physical benefits of cardio exercise abound, explains says Len Kravitz, PhD, senior exercise physiologist for IDEA Health and Fitness Association. They include:

*Reduced risk of heart disease
*Improved blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels
*Improved heart function
*Reduced risk of osteoporosis
*Improved muscle mass

"The American College of Sports Medicine and the CDC recommend, for health, that adults should accumulate 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week," says Kravitz, who is also a coordinator of exercise science at the University of New Mexico. "And to improve cardiovascular endurance, they recommend 20 to 60 minutes on three to five days per week."

Now that you know the benefits of cardio exercise, where should your heart-pumping fitness plan begin?

Getting Into the Zone

To help you make the most of your cardio exercise workout -- help your heart, increase muscle, and lose fat -- Denise Austin, fitness expert, author of seven books, including Shrink Your Female Fat Zones, and star of 50 fitness videos, gives WebMD some tips.

"To reap all the benefits of a cardio workout, you should sustain your workout for 20 minutes or more -- I do 30 minutes myself -- on a schedule of about three to four times per week," says Austin.

Not only that, but you need to get in the zone, which calculates into burning calories and fat.

"The best way to find out if you are burning fat is to take your pulse halfway into your cardio workout for six seconds, then add a zero to that number," Austin tells WebMD.

This number is your heart rate per minute.

Next, calculate your zone.

"Take the number 220, then minus your age, then calculate 70% of that number for your target beats per minute," says Austin, and that's your zone. "If your heart rate halfway through your workout is over that 70% mark take it down a level, and if under, pick up the pace."

Not a math wiz? There are easier ways to figure it out.

"Another great way to find out your zone is to get a pulse monitor, which takes the math out of it," says Austin. "Or very simply, take the talk test: while you are doing aerobics, talk a sentence. If you are too winded to finish the sentence, you are overdoing it, or if it's too easy to say, kick it up a notch!"

Getting Cut With Cardio

If you're looking for ripped abs and toned arms, interval training will help get you there -- especially if you throw in some weights.

"I love interval training because it consistently jump-starts your metabolism," says Austin. "Let's say you are walking -- you could power-walk really fast for three minutes to get the burst of calorie burn, and then walk calmly and slowly for one minute, which offers recovery. By switching back and forth, you push the muscle and let it relax over and over and this gives you maximum results." You can do interval training on any type of cardio exercise machine -- alternating a high intensity with a more moderate level.

Austin suggests doing weights during your recovery time, such as bicep curls or tricep toners, to reap the benefits of both cardio exercise and weight training, and along with interval training, add dedicated weight sessions to your regimen to burn fat and sculpt muscle at the same time.

"Do cardio four days a week for 30 minutes, and add a weight-training workout at least two times a week at 20-minute sessions," says Austin. "Cardio will burn the fat, and it's the weight training that gives you the toned sculpted look that will have you bikini ready."

Cardio's Best Fat Burner

So you want the bottom line: Which cardio exercise will fat-bust the best?

"Running is the best option for calorie burning, in my opinion," says Niki Kimbrough, personal fitness expert with Bally Total Fitness. "Whether it's outside or on a treadmill, it's the best exercise because you're burning calories and you're strengthening your legs and heart -- it'll get you nice and lean."

Beginners should start with 20 minutes, explains Kimbrough, and work their way up.

"It takes about 20 minutes for your body to get going, and then your body starts to kick it to another level," says Kimbrough. "Ideally, you want to run for about 30 or 45 minutes."

For those with bad knees, Kimbrough recommends the elliptical machine as a good second choice.

In case running isn't your game, Kravitz takes another track.

"I really feel the most important message is to chose a cardio modality or modalities that you like," says Kravitz. "Because in the final outcome, if a person enjoys a mode of exercise, that is what all research shows they will choose."

Splitting It Up

While it may not be the fastest way to a body built for the beach, splitting up your cardio exercise still has its benefits.

"In order to achieve the best results, and also in order to maintain a healthy heart, it is best to not split up your cardio workouts," says Austin. "You need the consistency of 20 minutes or more of an elevated pulse to ensure great results. However, something is better than nothing. If all the time you have is 10 minutes or even five minutes, it is better than sitting still; you will still be garnished benefits and lose weight."

Kick Up Your Cardio

Let's be honest -- cardio exercise can get boring after awhile. How can you jazz it up and make it interesting again? The experts recommend never letting it get stale in the first place.

"I believe you should do different types of cardio exercises during the course of a week, if possible," says Austin. "The thing to remember is that too much repetition will fatigue muscles and you will plateau, which will slow your results down. By adding variety to your workouts you give muscle groups a chance to recover on their days off and you can maintain a steady progress."

Kravitz agrees with adding options to cardio exercise.

"Vary the mode, vary the place you train, vary the workout, vary the time of day, vary the intensity of the workout, vary the duration -- vary, vary, vary," says Kravitz. "That is what I have found to work the best for exercise compliance."

Published Feb. 19, 2004.
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Old 06-27-2004, 09:52 AM   #4
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Laurie, I posted a lot of info for you on the other thread - please check it out
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