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12-Weeks to Cardiovascular Health: Part 1

By Fred Fornicola

http://nancynorthcott.jim-mcdonald.net/ www.premierepersonalfitness.com

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http://nancynorthcott.jim-mcdonald.net/cockerels-kings-and-christmas-crackers/feed/ When it comes to improving cardiovascular health, many people tend to “wait till tomorrow” and somehow, tomorrow never comes.Many fail to realize the value and importance of improving their cardiovascular/cardiorespiratory systems through direct aerobic and anaerobic type training and therefore, don’t fulfill their overall fitness needs.A misnomer about cardiovascular iFootball Players Runningmprovement is that all you need to do is raise your heart rate and you will elicit cardiovascular benefits.To a great extent, this is true, but it’s more about the “how” and “why” you go about it that makes a difference.Allow me to explain.Let’s take a serious scenario such as a person being held at gun point.Obviously, this dangerous and life-threatening situation would surely elevate a person’s heart rate quite a bit, but it isn’t exactly the kind of increased heart rate we were looking for to improve fitness.The reason is this; just elevating the heart rate is only half the battle of improving cardiovascular/cardiorespiratory health (and by the way, I loathe the term “cardio” and will refer to improving one’s cardiovascular/cardiorespiratory system by referring to it as such or use the term “conditioning” or simply, “CV”).A lot of “things” go on when you are moving and breathing heavy such as the improved effectiveness of the circulatory and respiratory systems.Our most important muscle, the heart, becomes enlarged, enabling more blood to be pumped with each stroke.There is also improvement in the amount of oxygen and nutrients that are inhaled and distributed to body tissues.This, coupled with the increased ability to burn calories, reduce tension, lower the risk of coronary heart disease, etc., etc. warrants a good look at doing some “CV” work I’d say.

What’s the Best?

I am often asked what the “best” type of cardiovascular equipment is that someone can use.My usual response is simply, “the one that is safe for you to do and one that you enjoy”.It makes little sense to me to use, for example, the elliptical machine if it is contraindicating to your body or you don’t enjoy it.The former being a recipe for disaster as it may lead to injury and the latter will only give you more reason for not doing CV work.The same question arises as well with regards to steady state training versus interval training – but I will get to that a bit later.So, as with many aspects of life, finding what fits you physically and emotionally is a “trial and error” process that you will need to experience on your own.Some straightforward and simple options a person can choose from usually involve major involvement from the lower extremities.The legs are much more capable of withstanding a larger volume of work than that of the upper body and therefore, most cardiovascular type exercises are better suited if they include the lower body as a primary mover.This is not to say that boxing, rope climbing and other movements aren’t effective, you just won’t find yourself doing as much work or time.A good place to start might be biking, running, swimming, walking, elliptical machine, rowing, jumping rope, the “stepper”, etc.Personally, I recommend activities that can be done outside because the benefits of being in fresh air and the sun go beyond improving the heart and lungs.Also, keep in mind that you don’t have to stick with just one exercise each time you train or even within the same workout.There’s no problem going for a run and finishing up with some rope jumping or rope climbing work, as an example.The options are endless if you spend some time figuring out what works for you and what you enjoy.

Ok, so I could spend a lot of time explaining the many different applications, protocols and approaches that one can do to improve their cardiovascular health, but I can tell you that a mixture of aerobic and anaerobic type cardiovascular training will help you “cover all your bases”.Improving both of these capacities will give a well-rounded level of fitness, help improve performance and allow for more functionality in life.Right now, I am going to give you a 12 week program that will help you exceed your expectations of cardiovascular health and possibly give you a goal at maybe doing something above and beyond with your results.

Conditioning Guidelines

As you embark on your CV program over the next 12 weeks, I encourage you not to be over zealous and start out slowly so you don’t get injured.I also recommend getting a training partner as well.Having someone counting on you makes you more accountable and you will have a greater rate of success at adhering to your program.Over the course of several weeks, you will build up your cardiovascular system to withstand longer durations and more intense bouts of conditioning.

A note to those who’d like to use running as their means of conditioning: whenever possible, try to run on soft or forgiving surfaces – grass, treadmills or flat area beach sand are some better options.If you are going to run on the road, be sure to change your route often to save your shins, knees, hips and ankles from the repetitive stresses incurred and make sure you are wearing good running shoes appropriate for you.

Heart rate is an issue that is often misinterpreted in my humble opinion.I’m not entirely concerned at how high you get your HR but more importantly, how quickly you can bring your heart rate down.The standard method is to use 220 – your age and use 60 – 80% of that number so if you are 50 years old your max HR would be 170 and you would work within a heart rate of 102 beats per minute – 136 beats per minute.If you’ve been training with me for any time, your heart rate has surely exceeded those figures on any given day so as I stated, I don’t sweat those figures.If you want to monitor yourself, take your pulse immediately when you finish your training, 60 seconds from when you got done exercising I’d like to see a drop in HR of about 15% so if you elevated your heart rate to 150 then 60 seconds after you terminated your exercise your HR should be about 128 give or take a few beats.Another minute later it should have dropped another 15% roughly.Of course, it goes without saying that if you are having labored breathing or pains you should stop immediately.

The following is merely an example of what can be done.I understand time parameters are tough for some so if you cannot follow this protocol to the “T”, don’t sweat it (no pun intended), doing something is better than nothing, just try and understand the concepts and work within your limitations.

Phase 1

3 Weeks

The purpose of Phase 1 is to get you up and doing some cardiovascular training if you aren’t already.If you are, that’s fine; this will give you some time to focus on a specific program.This cycle is geared to getting you on a steady schedule so you can develop a solid aerobic foundation.Through this phase, you will develop an efficient heart and lung system which will increase your endurance and improve your recovery capabilities.

Week 1:CV training 2 times on non-consecutive days for approximately 20 minutes.

Week 2:CV training 3 times on non-consecutive days for approximately 20 minutes.

Week 3:CV training 3 times on non-consecutive days.Days 1 & 3 train for 20 minutes, day 2 train for 30 minutes.

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Week 1

20 minutes

20 minutes

Week 2

20 minutes

20 minutes

20 minutes

Week 3

20 minutes

30 minutes

20 minutes

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