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    What is cardiovascular conditioning and heart zone training?

    Cardiovascular (CV) exercise requires movement of the body produced by large muscle groups over a sustained period of time.


    The three stages of CV

    I strongly recommend the use of heart rates monitors when engaging in CV exercise as that allows you to monitor your exercise intensity and track your progress.

    Always consult your doctor should you have any medical conditions or concerns. Your Personal Trainer can help and advise how to get more out of your CV and heart zone training.


    The three stages of your cardiovascular workout:


    The Warm-up: The warm-up phase is the beginning portion of your workout and basically prepares your body for physical activity by gradually increasing the blood flow and heart- and respiratory rate. The warm-up phase of your workout should last approximately 5-10 minutes.


    The Workout: This portion of the workout can last from 10-50 minutes depending on your specific goals and current fitness level. This is the core of your CV workout and you should be working at your target heart rate zone throughout.


    The Cool Down: This phase should also last 5-10 minutes and in essence is the opposite of the warm-up. This is an important phase of your CV workout and should not be ignored. Also include stretching as part of your cool down phase.


    Other factors


    Frequency: Consistency is key so aim to engage in CV between three to six days per week.


    Duration: 20 to 60 minutes of sustained or interval training. This includes both the warm-up and cool down phase.


    Intensity: Generally speaking, you want to work out between 60-80 percent of your maximal heart rate.


    Heart Rate Training Zones

    Heart rate training zones are calculated by taking into consideration your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) and your Resting Heart Rate (RHR). Within each training zone, subtle physiological effects take place to enhance your fitness.


    Zone 1: The healthy heart rate zone (50 – 60% of your max HR)

    This is the safest, most comfortable zone, reached by walking briskly during which you strengthen your heart and improve muscle mass while you reduce body fat, cholesterol, blood pressure, and your risk for degenerative disease. If you're out of shape, have heart problems, or simply want to safeguard your heart without working too hard, spend most of your training time here. It's also the zone for warming up and cooling down before and after more vigorous zones.


    Zone 2: The temperature zone(60 – 70% of your max HR)

    Easily reached by jogging slowly. While still a relatively low level of effort, this zone starts training your body to increase the rate of fat release from the cells to the muscles for fuel, which is why it is referred to as the “fat-burning” zone. To burn more total calories you'll need to exercise for more time in this zone.


    Zone 3: The aerobic zone(70 – 80% of your max HR)

    In this zone, reached by running at a comfortable pace, you improve your functional capacity. The number and size of your blood vessels actually increase, you step up your lung capacity and respiratory rate, and your heart increases in size and strength so you can exercise longer before becoming fatigued.


    Zone 4: The anaerobic threshold zone(80 – 90% of your max HR)

    This zone is reached by going running at a challenging pace. Here you get faster and fitter, increasing your heart rate as you cross from aerobic to anaerobic training. At this point, your heart cannot pump enough blood and oxygen to supply the exercising muscles fully so they respond by continuing to contract anaerobically.

    This is where you "feel the burn." You can stay in this zone for a limited amount of time, usually not more than an hour.


    Zone 5: The redline zone (90 – 100% of your max HR)

    You reach this zone by running as fast as you can and would only do so during the speed-up phase of the interval training.  Even world-class athletes cannot maintain this phase for a prolonged period of time and beginners should be extra cautious, as the potential for injuries is increased.


    Modes of CV and heart zone conditioning

    CV workouts can be performed in a variety of locations, modes, settings, and levels.


    Examples include:


    • Walking, running or cycling (in- or outdoors)

    • Gardening, mowing the lawn or raking leaves

    • Dancing

    • Sports such as soccer, basketball, martial arts, swimming etc.

    • Regular gym classes such as aerobics, spinning, power yoga etc.


    It's important that you choose activities that you enjoy and feel comfortable doing. If you like the workout, you'll look forward to it and be consistent.



    Benefits of cardiovascular and heart zone conditioning

    The benefits of CV exercise done on a consistent basis allow you to successfully manage your weight, attain your realistic fitness goals and maintain the optimal overall health and wellness that you desire.


    Health benefits include:


    • Improved circulation and overall heart condition

    • Decreased blood pressure

    • Increased lung function

    • Improvement in blood lipid profile

    • Improvement in overall energy, stamina and endurance

    • Increase in muscular endurance

    • Increase in insulin sensitivity

    • Improvement in mood and sense of well-being


    The bottom line is: You've got to keep moving! Our bodies are engineered for locomotion! So burn more calories, stay active and have fun whilst doing so! You'll feel better, look better and add quality to your life.


Cardiovascular conditioning and heart zone training