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