Table of Contents
Yuck it up or Train to Get Results?
What’s a cardio workout that you never heard of that can shred fat in as little as 12 weeks? If you want to take off some pounds before summer and wonder why you are not losing weight, despite doing cardio every day or several times a week, it is time to take a closer look. Have you been doing the same treadmill/elliptical/running/your favorite cardio routine for many years?
Are you still doing elliptical or treadmill for 3 or 3.5 mph every workout? That is why you are not seeing results. You have to start training and demanding a bit more from your body than you are right now. That is when you will see changes. You can read more about the overload principle here. Here are five types of cardio training that you might not be too familiar with:
- Long slow distance
- Long Intervals
- Short Intervals
Which of the above five workouts can help accelerate your fat loss dramatically? Let’s look at each one of them before answering this question.
What is Long Slow Distance and it’s Benefits?
You might not have heard of long slow distance, but you sort of get the idea. You go slow, for a long distance. Perform Long Slow Distance cardio workouts once or twice a week for a duration of 30 minutes up to 1 hour. Use an intensity of 55 – 70% of your target heart rate. You can find your target heart rate here. Or, measure intensity by using an Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) of 5 – 7 on a scale of 1 – 10, where 1 is super easy and 10 is going all out. The benefits of long slow distance training are:
- Improving your cardiovascular function
- Enhanced thermoregulatory function, which means better temperature control of your body.
- Increased utilization of fat.
- Sparing of glycogen reserves in your muscles.
- Increased endurance of all involved muscles.
Fartlek? – I did not Make that Up
What’s a cardio workout that you never heard of? For sure, you never heard of fartlek unless you know Swedish. Fartlek means – speed play. After you build up some cardiovascular fitness, you are going to play around with your speed. So, while you were doing long slow distance training at an RPE of 5 – 7, you are going to have some speed bursts up to level 8.
For example, run at 4.5 mph for 5 minutes and then run 5.0 mph for 30 seconds. Every 5 minutes, you can speed up to 5.0 or 5.5 mph or more, for 30 seconds to a minute or more. Everything depends on your level of fitness. The concept though of fartlek is to help you build up your cardiorespiratory endurance.
And, you do this by challenging yourself to run, walk, swim, cycle or row faster. The recommendation is to do Fartlek once or twice a week for a duration of 20 to 60 minutes. Fartlek is long slow distance with bursts of speed wherever you want them.
The Benefits of Fartlek
You will increase your VO2 max. VO2 max is a measure of the maximum volume of oxygen that you can use. The better your VO2 max, the greater is your cardiorespiratory endurance. You will improve your lactate threshold which means that you will not fatigue as fast. Your fuel utilization of fatty acids, oxygen and glycogen will all improve. Whichever activity you choose for cardiorespiratory endurance, your technique will improve.
Fartlek is the next progression after Long Slow Distance. Once you feel comfortable with Fartlek, which is an RPE of 8, a level 8 intensity, then you can move up to:
Pace/Tempo is also likely to answer the question what’s a cardio workout you never heard of. Pace/Tempo is cardio training at a level 8 intensity. This type of cardio will feel ‘comfortably uncomfortable’. An RPE (rate of perceived exertion as explained above) of 8 is equivalent to a target heart rate of 70 – 85%. Perform Pace/Tempo once or twice a week for a duration of 20 to 30 minutes max. Do not do more than 30 minutes of Pace/Tempo or you will risk overtraining. Pace/Tempo will improve your cardio fitness beyond where LSD and Fartlek can take you.
This applies especially to your lactate threshold adaptation, which means that you will fatigue much less. You will move easier throughout the day, climb those subway stairs with greater ease. Besides walking and running for the bus when you need to or playing touch football. You will be fitter for your kids and/or grandkids, nephews or neices. Give LSD, Fartlek and Pace/Tempo a shot, and then try out the last two cardio workouts that you probably did hear of.
Long intervals will improve your anaerobic capacity and yes, long intervals are uncomfortable. Because they are above the lactate threshold, so long intervals will feel uncomfortable. The recommendation for long intervals is once or twice a week for a duration of 3 to 5 minutes. Long intervals are uncomfortable because the intensity level is a 9. This means that the target heart rate is 90 – 95% of your heart rate max.
Long intervals are very close to your VO2 max. As a result, you will increase your VO2 max, speed and anaerobic adaptation. Anaerobic adaptation means that your cells will become better at producing energy without oxygen. How is that for a magic trick? You can do sets of long intervals, for a maximum of 30 minutes total. Do one set for 3 to 5 minutes at level 9, then rest for at least the time of the set. Therefore, in a 30 minute workout, you can do 2 to 5 sets of 3 minute intervals with at least 3 minutes of rest between sets.
By the way, whenever you see a range in this ‘what’s a cardio workout’ that you never heard of guide, always start with the lower number. So, if you have never done long intervals, start with once a week and build up to twice.
As opposed to 3 – 5 minutes for long intervals, short intervals are for 30 – 90 seconds. This means that beginners should start with 30 seconds. The rest ratio for short intervals is 1 to 3 or 1 to 5. This means that if you do a short interval of 30 seconds, then rest at least 3 x 30 seconds or 1.5 minutes. You can even rest 5 x 30 seconds or 2.5 minutes between intervals. You need a longer rest time between short intervals, because the intensity is all out. This means that you will be going at a level 10, an RPE of 10, the maximum effort that you can do.
The benefits of short intervals are to improve your speed, your technique, and your anaerobic metabolism, the ability to produce energy without oxygen.
So, What’s a Cardio Workout that You Never Heard of Before?
Fartlek is one, Pace/Tempo is probably another, and even Long Slow Distance might not be a typical cardio workout that you think of, especially at a level 5 to 7 intensity. We have all heard of intervals, but maybe not short and long.
The answer is that all 5 of these cardio workouts can get you into better shape faster than you would ever believe. And, just doing long slow distance, fartlek and pace/tempo at the recommended intensity level, is enough to help you lose 20 pounds over 12 weeks. Of course in combination with a better nutrition plan. You can follow a plan like this if you are a beginner:
- Saturday or Sunday – Long Slow Distance for 30 to 60 minutes (rest up one of these days) @ RPE Level 5
- Monday – Fartlek 20 to 30 minutes @ RPE Level 5 to level 7/8
- Tuesday -Pace/Tempo for 15 to 30 minutes @ RPE Level 8
- Wednesday – Long Slow Distance for 20 to 30 minutes @ RPE Level 5 – 6
- Thursday – Fartlek for 20 to 30 minutes @ RPE Level 6 to level 8
- Friday – Long Slow Distance for 30 to 45 minutes @ RPE level 5 to level 7
Just mix up your cardio programming as shown above using whatever cardio you like best, walking, running, swimming, etc, and you will see amazing results!