Cardio is short for cardiovascular exercise, which is any exercise that causes your heart rate to rise. Whether it’s running a mile, skipping the elevator and taking the stairs, using the elliptical, or even taking a brisk walk with the dog, there are levels of cardio. Dr. Goglia refers to these levels of cardio as “zones” – and some zones will and can be harder than others. If you’re trying to bump up your endurance or fitness level, incorporating all zones of cardio will help with your overall goal.
This is also known as the warm-up or cool-down phase. It’s a low intensity cardio phase where you’re warming up the body to begin a more intense workout or cooling down the body from a vigorous workout. In this zone, you are able to focus on breathing, body form, and technique.
This cardio phase can range from low intensity to moderate intensity. During this phase, you are able to train for longer periods of time, which will help increase your cardiovascular efficiency. Once comfortable in this zone, increasing zones will become easier and more fluid. Depending on your physical ability, this can be a brisk walk, low-moderate intensity elliptical gliding, or a low-moderate resistant cycle session.
This cardiovascular phase is a more intense zone in which the heart rate in increased high enough to improve aerobic conditioning. The body is pushed in a zone where the body is able to become tolerant to lactic acid (soreness). During this time, someone is able to spend up to 1 hour in this zone and require little recovery time in between sessions.
This zone is a high intensity heart rate training zone. This zone is ideal to improve power and overall performance. Once in this zone, this phase can only be maintained for 30 seconds to three minutes with equal to full rest periods between intervals. This zone can be reached with running, stair climbing, cycling, swimming, or any other exercise that cause the heart rate to rise significantly.
This zone is the most intense zone for any cardiovascular activity. This zone increases the amount of blood the heart pumps with each heartbeat. Generally, this zone can only be maintained for short periods of time. Dr. Goglia explains this zone to be ideal to develop speed and power and is the most physiologically demanding zone.
Training at any cardiovascular zone can be beneficial for anyone regardless of fitness level. Each cardio zone has a specific purpose, and depending on your goal, incorporating different zones in your routine can increase your overall endurance. However, performing any cardiovascular activity requires a structured form and proper technique. Ensure that each zone is entered in a safe and healthy manner, even if a physical trainer is needed. Additionally, any stress on the body is required to be supported by a balanced and efficient meal plan/schedule. If needed, developing a personalized meal plan based on your metabolic efficiency with a nutritionist can be key to keeping you and your body healthy. Read here for food to eat before your workout.