Adding in specific training to improve your cardiovascular system helps ensure that you have a well-balanced training program. Strength training absolutely has cardio benefits when your heart rate increases during training. However, adding in other activities that require a variety of intensity levels and duration helps to dramatically improve your overall health specifically relating to your cardiovascular system.
The buzzword “HIIT” training has become extremely popular over the last few years. The acronym for High Intensity Interval Training can be applied to all different types of exercise with the key being that the intensity varies throughout the workout. You have periods of time where your intensity and heart rate are high, followed by lower intensity periods to let your heart rate recover, then repeat. It can have metabolic advantages and you can usually burn a lot of calories in a shorter period of time. The intervals and intensity can vary based on the workout, but the overall idea is that you are varying it to keep your body guessing!
Depending on who you ask, some experts are advocates for low intensity steady state (LISS) cardio, and some believe that LISS does not need to have a place in workout programming and have replaced it with HIIT. Based on my personal experiences, my body reacts to LISS differently than HIIT training, so I am a firm believer that it does have a place in your routine. The general idea for LISS training is to keep the intensity at a lower level so that you can maintain it for an extended period of time to force your body to use your energy systems differently to fuel your movement. It also helps to develop your aerobic fitness level and increase cardiovascular endurance. Ideas for 60-minute training sessions would be considered LISS such as the speed walk and yoga classes.
Personally, I think that the perfectly balanced workout regime includes all of the above! Depending on what your personal preferences are around strength training, HIIT or LISS, the mix of how much time you spend on what area might vary from someone else because ultimately you want to enjoy the process to be able to keep it up for the long term!
*Much of this post is also available in Sara’s new eBook “Fun with Cardio”, which also expands on ways to have fun with cardiovascular training specifically around HIIT and LISS! It can be purchased by visiting thehealthyhabitschallenge.com Store!