Strength training and cardiovascular conditioning are the bread and butter tools of a personal trainer, even though we might not necessarily want you to eat bread and butter. On top of encouraging a healthy and well-balanced diet, making sure you get enough time working out in both domains of exercise is important to overall health. So why is cardio important?
Working out can have many benefits like brain function and bone density. Focusing on cardio and conditioning specifically, endurance based exercise will improve your health; things like body composition, blood pressure, heart health, mental health, all-cause mortality and so on. When it comes to higher intensities specifically, research shows that vigorous intensity activity can lead to better cardiac health, metabolic function, and physical ability when compared to moderate intensities.
Take the guesswork out of your workout
One of our objectives here at Hyatt Training is to take the guesswork out of your workouts. We always want to make sure that you have a plan when you step into the studio. A personal favorite is the Hour of Power Challenge — which we’ve nicknamed the “HOP.” As a quick recap, the #HOPx10 Challenge is a 13 week series of workouts, with a new workout each week written by a different trainer. Having an extra strength training session each week is a unique and fun add-on to your existing program, but you may have also noticed the Quick Hitters on the other side of the chalkboard. We’ve recently made some tweaks to how we write the Quick Hitters to better compliment the strength training focus of the HOP.
Before the start of 2022, both the HOP and the Quick Hitter were even mixes of resistance training and cardio elements. The big difference was that one was about 45 minutes long to complete and the other closer to 15-25 minutes. Since the start of 2022, the #HOPx10 Challenge has really taken off with some great strength training workouts. We wanted to supplement those by changing up the Quick Hitter to get after the cardio side of things and give our clients more options for what to do when they set foot in the gym to work out.
Quick Hitter you say? Tell me more
One thing you can expect each time you come in for a Quick Hitter is hard work and a good sweat. You can expect some blend of circuit training and high intensity interval training. Each week will be a different workout using a variety of equipment around the studio to make sure you never get bored with the workouts. Even though the workouts will be challenging, they’ll still be accessible even for beginners. This way, we hope to make it easier for you to get in an even mix throughout the week of both strength and endurance training.
Let’s talk science
Why is it important to do both strength training and cardio? Three of the heavy hitters in the fitness industry agree that doing both is important for optimal health. The National Strength and Conditioning Association, the American College of Sports Medicine, and the National Academy of Sports Medicine recommend at least 2 strength and resistance training sessions targeting all major muscle groups per week alongside 2-3 cardio sessions lasting 30-60 minutes per week.
The American Heart Association and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention have also weighed in on the importance of exercise for your health. By the numbers, people should shoot for 150 minutes of moderate intensity cardio (50-70% of your heart rate max) or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity cardio (70-85% of your heart rate max). Alternatively, you can also do a mix of moderate and vigorous intensity cardio. As far as what that combination means, you should think of 1 minute of vigorous intensity exercise as counting for 2 minutes of moderate intensity exercise along as you get to what would “count” as making up that 150/75 minute combination.
Some of the common examples of moderate intensity exercise are brisk walking, light cycling, dancing, hiking, yard work, and even some household chores. Examples for vigorous exercise include running, fast cycling, swimming, playing sports, circuit training, and interval training. There’s a lot of ways to hit that 150/75 minute combo using a lot of different activities. If you come in to do a Quick Hitter during an open gym time slot, you probably notice some elements of the last two vigorous intensity activities.
So which intensity should we choose? Realistically, you should be doing both. (Check out our post on Important Elements of an Exercise Plan) In some cases, it may be best to choose activities based on convenience. One of the most common forms of moderate intensity exercise we advocate for is walking. It is much easier to take 10-15 minutes every day to take a short walk than it is to suit up for action in the gym. You don’t necessarily need a change of clothes after a brisk walk during your lunch break either.
Effective and Efficient
On the other hand, vigorous exercise can be much more time efficient. If you do a 25 minute Quick Hitter in the studio, you’re already a third of the way there for the week. Plus, you can often burn the same amount of calories in half the time. However, calories aren’t everything.
In reality, the main benefit is that you can focus on the improvements in mobility and motor function that become even more important as we age. That’s not to say that doing those short walks doesn’t add up though. 10 minutes after lunch 5 days a week gets you another third. At that point, it’s really up to you how you want to make up that last third. In fact, if you are already mixing in some conditioning work in your strength workouts you might already be there. Once you’ve gotten to that 150/75 minute combo, then anything you do beyond that is extra credit that can only make you better.
Regardless of how you reach your cardio goals each week, it’s important to have the tools necessary to achieve it. You might not be up to diving head first into a Quick Hitter if you’ve just started exercising and that’s totally OK. You can absolutely see wonderful results with moderate intensity exercise until you’re ready for the next step. No matter what your fitness level is right now, we want to make sure you have every option available to make it easier to achieve your goals, be healthy and Do Life Better.
American Heart Association recommendations for physical activity in adults and kids. www.heart.org. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2022, from https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/aha-recs-for-physical-activity-in-adults
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, October 7). How much physical activity do adults need? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved February 15, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm
Foundations of fitness programming – NSCA. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2022, from https://www.nsca.com/contentassets/8323553f698a466a98220b21d9eb9a65/foundationsoffitnessprogramming_201508.pdf
Gebel K, Ding D, Chey T, Stamatakis E, Brown WJ, Bauman AE. Effect of Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity on All-Cause Mortality in Middle-aged and Older Australians. JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(6):970–977. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.0541
Hupin D, Roche F, Gremeaux V, et al Even a low-dose of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity reduces mortality by 22% in adults aged ≥60 years: a systematic review and meta-analysis British Journal of Sports Medicine 2015;49:1262-1267.
Penney, S. (n.d.). How much physical activity is enough? recommendations for the week. NASM. Retrieved February 15, 2022, from https://blog.nasm.org/fitness/fitness-how-much-activity-is-enough#
Physical activity guidelines resources. ACSM_CMS. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2022, from https://www.acsm.org/education-resources/trending-topics-resources/physical-activity-guidelines#
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Author Travis Robe is a Personal Trainer at Hyatt Training with a CSCS and BA in Kinesiology. In addition to his experience with strength training, he is also a lifelong martial artist. He believes in using fitness as a way to build discipline and confidence to overcome any challenge life may present you. Learn more about Travis, or get in touch with him by emailing us at Go@HyattTraining.com.
Hyatt Training is a team of certified, enthusiastic and innovative personal trainers in Portland, Oregon. To read more fitness related posts like this one, follow this link.