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Cardiovascular Training: Different Types of Cardio Workouts

We connected with IFBB Pro Erin Stern to learn about the benefits of cardio, the different types, and how to use them to get the best physique possible.

Benefits of Cardiovascular Exercise

Cardiovascular exercise offers many benefits including 

  • Improved heart health 
  • Increased endurance 
  • Better weight management 
  • Improved subjective feelings of well-being 

It’s recommended that healthy adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise or 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobic exercise per week. You can do moderate intensity, high-intensity or a combination of both throughout the week.  

Method 1: Steady State Cardio

This is the easiest form of cardio however it may take you the longest to do. One of the benefits of steady state cardio is that it’s a tool you can use the last few weeks before getting ready for something. If you’re looking to increase calorie burn or get that extra bit of body fat off, adding steady state cardio can be a great tool. This is the longest duration cardio there is, typically you can hold a conversation while you do it. You want to get your heart rate to about 60% of max. Your body gets used to steady state, you get fitter, and you have to add minutes to get the same results.

Sample Steady State Cardio Workout

Running on a treadmill or outside


5-10 minutes of light jogging or walking

Main workout:

Run at a steady pace for 30-40 minutes. The intensity should feel like a 12 out of 20, with 20 being your all-out maximum speed.

Another option for increasing the intensity is to increase the incline on your treadmill or to find a trail with some elevation to make your workout more challenging.

Cool down:

5-10 minutes of light jogging or walking to bring your heart rate back down.

Method 2: Interval Training

Interval training is a great tool for fat loss. Common work to rest ratios include 1:1, 2:1, 3:1, and if you get super fit 4:1. If you’re doing 1:1 as an example, you may do 30 seconds going hard and 30 seconds going easy repeated for a total of 20-30 minutes. As you get fitter you can tweak the work to rest ratio. For interval training, you can add it after weight training or do it as a separate session.

Sample Interval Cardio Workout (1:1 work to rest ratio)

Warm-up: 5 minutes of light cardio (jogging, cycling, etc.)


30 seconds of high knees (sprinting in place)

30 seconds of rest

30 seconds of jumping jacks

30 seconds of rest

30 seconds of burpees

30 seconds of rest

30 seconds of mountain climbers

30 seconds of rest

30 seconds of squat jumps

30 seconds of rest

Repeat the above sequence for a total of 3-5 rounds.

Cool-down: 5-10 minutes of low-intensity cardio and static stretching.

Method 3: High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) 

HIIT should only be done once or twice a week because it taxes the muscles and central nervous system. When we’re looking at HIIT, we’re not looking at a specific work to rest ratio, instead, we’re looking at an all-out window of 7 – 30 seconds.  As far as recovery between each interval, this varies between 1 – 4 minutes. What you want to do is get your heart rate up to 80-90% max during your interval and then let your heart rate drop to 60% of your max during your rest period. This gives you the ability to go all out on your next interval. If you’re doing short intervals, you can typically do more of them but if you’re doing longer intervals, you’ll only be able to do a few. As you go, you’re going to take longer each time during your rest interval. HIIT can be done year-round, you can do them after weight training (aside from leg training) but stand-alone training sessions are preferred.

Sample HIIT Cardio Workout (30 second: 4-minute work to rest ratio)

Warm-up: 5-10 minutes of light cardio (e.g. jogging, jumping jacks, stationary bike)


Perform an exercise for 30 seconds for one working set and then rest for 4 minutes before moving on to the next exercise. Do this for 4-5 working sets.

Working set exercise options

Squat Jumps


Mountain Climbers


Battle Ropes

Cycle Ergometer

Rowing Ergometer

Cool-down: 5-10 minutes of light cardio and stretching.

Method 4: Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) Cardio

This isn’t traditional cardio. It’s your movement throughout the day, like fidgeting, walking, moving around. Have your step tracker if this is something you want to keep track of. If you increase your NEAT, you can lower the amount of steady state cardio that you’ll need. Generally, I try to get between 5 and 10,000 steps per day. This is going to help burn between 600-1000 calories on average so it’s not a small thing.  

Erin Stern's Cardio Stack

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Date May 17, 2022
Category Training