The three components of an exercise program

Posted 04/11/2014 | By HealthCorps

With all the fitness activities and trends, it can be hard to figure out an optimal exercise program. Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or advanced exerciser, you should devote time to cardiovascular, resistance and flexibility training. This week, let’s look at the cardiovascular component.

If the exercise you’re performing raises your heart rate, you burn calories, and your muscles break down fuel, sugar and fat, for fuel. Glycogen is your readily available source of fuel. Once your muscles use up the glycogen stores, they begin to break down fat as a fuel source. That’s why it is crucial, for weight loss, to push beyond just “easy exercise” or to sustain a higher level of intensity as you exercise, so that your body begins to utilize stored fat. Actually, there are three types of cardiovascular exercise.

Long, slow distance or LSD describes more sustained, endurance activities. Riding your bike for an hour, running outside or on the treadmill, swimming, skiing are LSD exercises. Over time you should be increasing your endurance and be able to then progress to interval training.

Tempo exercises involve shorter (20 to 30 minutes) training sessions that allow you to raise your heart rate periodically to very high levels. Aerobic and kickboxing classes prod your body to hit anaerobic thresholds, and shift you from burning fat to burning more easily accessible carbohydrates.

HIIT or high intensity interval training is a formula for exercise that basically involves an all-out effort for a set duration of say one minute, followed by a one minute recovery. You repeat this formula, for 20 to 30 minutes. This type of exercise activates your fast twitch muscles, which will make you stronger over time. It also places a huge metabolic demand on your body, which means a huge calorie burn.

The minimum recommendation for health benefits is 150 minutes of cardiovascular training weekly. If you want to lose weight, it will take a vigorous effort, or more than 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise weekly, plus watching calories. Once you start losing weight and getting used to your current exercise regimen, you may have to increase duration or effort to keep burning calories.

Next Friday: Strength training

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