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Endurance, Intervals, Fitness: Know Your Cardio

A well balanced fitness program should include cardio as well as strength training and flexibility training. Don't think that cardio means working out at the same pace all the time. Just as you mix up the various elements of fitness, you need to mix up your cardio routine.

Your cardio plan should be a mix of endurance, fitness and interval training. You shouldn't just hop on the elliptical or hit the streets and do the same routine every workout. Doing so just focuses on one element of cardio fitness and your body can acclimate easily to your workout, meaning you are not challenging yourself as much as you could and are probably not burning as many calories as you could be. Here's a brief description of each type of training.

  • Endurance: Maintaining a steady, and somewhat slower pace for a longer duration is an endurance workout. Aim to work out for at least 40 to 60 minutes maintaining a target heart rate of 60-70 percent of your max (check my calculator to learn your max heart rate). This type of workout is good for burning both fat and calories. Endurance workouts are great for "recovery" workout, the day after an intense workout. Try running on flat ground for at least 40 minutes at a nice steady pace. Add five minutes on to your run each week until you make it up to a full hour.
  • To see the other two, just


  • Fitness: Short and intense workouts to increase cardiovascular fitness are fitness workouts. For these workouts you work at a consistent and intense pace for a short period of time. Keep your heart rate between 75 and 85 percent of your max for twenty minutes. A tempo run is a great example of this kind of workout. You will burn the maximum number of calories in a shorter period of time. Doing just this type of workout can lead to injury, since you are pushing your body, heart, joints and muscles beyond your comfort zone. Once you have warmed up, put the speed of the treadmill a couple of notches past your comfort zone and run for 20 minutes. Don't forget to cool down.
  • Interval: I love interval training since it is a blend of both endurance and fitness training. It challenges the cardiovascular system by alternating intensities. It also increases your metabolism and will burn calories and fat. Here is a challenging interval workout: Interval Sprints on Treadmill.

So which type of training is your favorite and which do you need to do more of? Tell me in the comment section below.


Join The Conversation
angelfromlsu angelfromlsu 9 years
Babygal14 - I think strength training is wayyyyy more important in cardio. You need to not do crunches but lunges, squats, deadlifts, pushups, & pullups. These moves use tons of muscle fiber which allows you to have a HUGE afterburn. Tons more calories are burned than doing cardio. While light cardio is good for the heart, strength training makes you look great. If you do all cardio, you'll end up "skinny fat". Thin all over but with a spare tire or junk in the trunk.
babygal14 babygal14 9 years
I noticed that Cardio is a huge deal in a workout because when I was younger all I did was cardio and I felt better and was more fit now a days all i did was strength moves saw little improvement except i can do more crunches... and a little difference in the way i looked im not trying to say just do cardio just combine the 2 but do more cardio than strength moves and you'll see a huge difference also eat healthier
joy76 joy76 9 years
I do fitness and interval mainly, don't have the discipline for endurance.
Spectra Spectra 9 years
I do a lot of endurance training because it doesn't involve a lot of actual thinking, lol. I also do quite a bit of fitness training...jumping rope is excellent for that. I need to do more interval training though. I actually like intervals; I just never think to do them.
AMP AMP 9 years
Intervals are my favorite b/c I think they are the hardest and they really get me to push myself. I should do more fitness because I think it will improve my speed and endurance more.
kia kia 9 years
Still working on my base but running for about 40 minutes at 60-70% of my max is doable these days.
Emdance Emdance 9 years
I like to do all of these but I find myself just doing endurance because I am comfortable with it. I guess I will have to kick it up a notch and get some fitness in there to push myself!
I love endurance running. It's my fave way to zone out for 2 hours. I really need to do fitness training though. I just feel that with shorter workers I haven't really "accomplished" anything! Stupid, I know ..
angelfromlsu angelfromlsu 9 years
Interval training requires way less time than endurance. That's what's so great about it!
Geisha-Runner Geisha-Runner 9 years
I do it all. There are two major factors when deciding which work out to do. Time and mood. Some days I just need to get my run done and over with. Other days, I just feel like walking for an hour and belting out the tunes from my mp3 player!
LOVErickii LOVErickii 9 years
i'd like to do more interval but im short on time lately
cvandoorn cvandoorn 9 years
It depends on my mood really...I try to do intervals at least once a week, but i'm finding it hard to fit in with all my long runs and other work outs I do.
bengalspice bengalspice 9 years
I hope to start my running workout this weekend. My goal is to do mostly endurance, though I'll try the interval training if I can handle it. I'm planning to run around the reservoir in Central Park, which will be my first time seeing that part of the park. I'm really excited!
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
Thank you for this!
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