3 types of cardio and which to do for best results


Cardio – you either love it or you hate it.

And half the people fake love it because they think it’s the only way.

Let’s start with..strength training is always going to be superior for physique changes.

Okay, now that we hit that main point, cardio is still important for overall heath.

Not all health goals should be physical, right? You should also want to perform better, live longer and live those longer years healthy.

Cardio is great for heart health, blood pressure…things that are deeper than abs and bicep veins.

So let’s dive in today about different types of cardio, and which one might be best for results.

Low Intensity Steady State (LISS)

This type of cardio is just as it sounds, low intensity.

The goal here is to also increase heart rate, but keep in at a steady rate.

So no intervals up and down, but rather just a low intensity threshold that you can maintain for an extended period of time.

Low intensity cardio is typically done for 45+ minutes, with heart rate about 50-55% of your max heart rate.

Benefits of this type of cardio include:

• Can aid in fat loss – this means steady state exercise for an extended period of time could allow the body to tap into fat stores rather than glycogen. This type of exercise also takes up more time, and some degree of “hard” is still included.

• Appropriate for all levels – anyone can do LISS.

• Recovery is easier because of the steady state and lower intensity – not too much strain on the muscles to cause tearing.

Long duration cardio can also help work the heart (since it is a muscle) to make it stronger and healthier.

An efficient heart can lower the effects of several chronic diseases.

There are a few different ways you can do low intensity steady state cardio.

Low Intensity Steady State Cardio Exercises

Things like walking, running, rowing, swimming, biking, skating.

All can be done for an extended period of time, and the difficulty can also be adjusted as you go.

Walking is a great place to start for this cardio, and you can slowly build up to running or biking if that interests you.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

This is probably the most popular form of cardio everyone is talking about.

Except, most people who post workouts or talk about it, aren’t actually doing true HIIT.

High intensity interval training is all out, maximal effort for 5-30 seconds, and then several minutes to recover before going again.

This means heart rate is somewhere around 80-95% of your max heart rate.

Think “holy moly, I am going to throw up”…that is the type of intensity necessary here.

Benefits of HIIT include:

• Max calories can be burned in a short period of time (but this does not mean they are stored fat calories)

• Increased metabolic rate for extended time after exercise. This means that because of the nature of HIIT with rising and fall heart rates, your body actually spends the rest of the day burning more calories to try to return to baseline.

• Improve oxygen consumption. HIIT can actually increase the density of mitochondria which in term means we are able to take in and use oxygen more easily after regular HIIT training.

• Decrease heart rate and blood pressure. Again, heart health is a big topic here. Decreasing resting heart rate and blood pressure are important for overall health and decreasing risk of chronic disease.

So, HIIT has benefits. There’s no denying that.

But again, HIIT is not a circuit of 40 seconds of work and 20 seconds of rest.

That is just circuit training, that is not HIIT training.

HIIT training is such high impact, you need minutes to recover, not 20 seconds.

What are HIIT exercises

High intensity training to this degree can be done sprinting, using a row machine, stationary biking, etc.

Again, modalities that allow you do to a lot of work in a short period of time.

Moderate Intensity Training

Moderate intensity cardio is just as it sounds, a moderate intensity.

This is the middle man, the go between, the down the center.

Most people assume that fat loss occurs when you go as hard as you can, as long as you can; burning as many calories as possible and completely draining yourself.

But – that is not true.

Research has shown that moderate intensity is actually where the fat energy system is tapped into.

Moderate intensity is a heart rate about 55-70% of your max heart rate, and duration is as long as you wish to do it.

This intensity should allow you to carry a conversation while you are exercising.

Now, this doesn’t mean you should be able to chatter and chatter and sing during the exercise.

But being able to talk back and forth with someone is a good indication that your heart rate is where you want it to be.

Benefits of moderate intensity exercise include:

• Burning more fat than other modalities.

• Improving mood and overall health because of the ability to do daily.

• Boosting overall health benefits (including, you guessed it, heart health)

Exercises for moderate intensity can vary.

Weight lifting typically falls under this category, but since we are talking about cardio…

Things like walking, playing sports, swimming, etc can all fall under this moderate intensity category.

How to Calculate Target Heart Rate

Now that we covered the different types of cardio, let’s discuss how we figure out our heart rate zone.

To calculate your maximum heart rate you take 220 and subtract your age.

220 – age = maximum heart rate.

To get your heart rate for a specific cardio intensity, you take your maximum heart rate and multiply it by the percentage.

If we are wanting 60% of of our max heart rate for moderate intensity..

Maximum heart rate x 0.6 = 60% of max heart rate for moderate intensity.

You can do this with any of the percentage calculations to find your desired zone.

I hope this blog on types of cardio helped you, and now you have more information moving forward about intensity and goals.

If you are struggling to find the right program for you, and how you will fit in strength, heart rate training and life…try out the Collective.

This is a great 20 minute a day program that anyone can fit into their schedule.

Haley Rowe March 12, 2021