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How To Improve Cardio Fitness: The Lowdown

Improving your cardio fitness can transform your health and lifestyle, and it’s one of the main reasons why people come to LRF Gyms.

At both our Ashford and Herne Bay gyms in Kent, we have dedicated cardio training facilities, including top-of-the-range gym machines designed to help you to improve your health and fitness, and achieve your goals.

If you’re new to the gym or you’ve been focusing on a different goal until now, here’s everything you need to know about how to improve cardio fitness, and how to work cardiovascular exercises into your weight training plan.

The Benefits Of Improving Your Cardio Fitness

It’s recommended that everyone does 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic or cardio exercise every week. Regular cardio exercise can actually help to lower the risk of early death by up to 30%, according to the NHS, and it can also help to reduce the risk of osteoarthritis, hip fractures, type 2 diabetes, and even some types of cancer.

Other benefits of regular cardiovascular exercise may include:

  • Weight loss

  • A lower resting heart rate

  • Improved blood flow, which can help to lower blood pressure, subsequently reducing the risk of stroke and heart disease

  • Lower bad cholesterol levels

  • Improved sleep, by making you feel more tired at bedtime

  • Mental health benefits

What’s more, working on your cardio fitness may help you to improve your VO2 max. This term refers to the maximum level of oxygen your body is able to use during one minute of exercise for every kilo of your body weight. VO2 max is something serious athletes track, and it’s a key reason behind why some are keen to improve their cardiovascular fitness.

Types Of Cardio Exercise

Cardio exercise is any type of exercise that raises your heart rate to get blood pumping around your body faster. However, it’s not enough to simply increase your heart rate - you need to keep it up for a prolonged period to burn calories and improve your fitness and endurance.

Types of cardio exercise include:

  • Walking

  • Hiking

  • Running

  • Cycling or spinning

  • Swimming

  • Skipping

  • Running up stairs

  • Tennis

  • Squash

  • HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts

  • Rowing

  • Circuits featuring exercises such as burpees, squats, and jumping jacks

How To Improve Cardio Fitness: 5 Top Tips

If you’re trying to build on your current cardio fitness level to improve your power or endurance, there are a few techniques you can try on top of your current exercise regime, such as:

1. Increase The Length Of Your Workouts

If you already have an exercise regime but want to improve your cardio fitness, simply increasing the length of your workouts is an easy step to try.

Start with an extra 5-10 minutes, and aim to increase the length each time you work out - you’ll soon be doing a lot more than you do now, meaning your cardio fitness will be improving.

2. Try Different Types Of Cardio

If your main cardio exercise is currently running or walking, mix it up with a game of tennis or a spin session to push your body, work different muscles, and challenge yourself mentally too.

3. Experiment With Interval Training

Interval training is a great way to improve your cardiovascular fitness, so try working this into your training plan a few times a week.

Interval training typically involves 30 seconds of high-intensity exercise such as running or cycling, followed by 30 minutes of gentler movement - repeat this cycle for 15-20 minutes for a full workout.

As your fitness improves, switch up the high-intensity exercises you’re doing, or add on an extra 5-10 seconds to each interval.

4. Start Power Walking

Start walking with purpose everywhere you go to keep your heart rate raised for longer. Even if you’re just walking from your car to the shop or taking the dog for a walk around the block, increase your speed to help improve your cardio fitness.

5. Make Cardio Your Priority

If improving your cardio fitness levels is your main goal, try to make cardio the main exercise you do. When you can feel a difference in your cardio fitness levels, go back to your usual workout or weights routine.

What Should A Cardio Training Plan Look Like?

Everyone’s cardio training plan will look different, and you might want to work with a personal trainer to devise yours based on your individual goals.

If you’re looking to improve your cardio fitness levels, you should be doing at least 30 minutes of moderate cardio exercise 5 times a week, or 20 minutes of vigorous cardio activity 3 times a week. For example, a cardio training session could be:

  • A 30-minute HIIT workout

  • A 30-minute run

  • 20 minutes of tennis

  • 15 minutes on the treadmill followed by 15 minutes on the exercise bike

  • A 30-minute circuit workout

  • A 30-minute swim

Should I Do Cardio While Weight Training?

Doing cardio exercise alongside weight training could help you to improve your overall fitness further, especially if your goal is to improve your overall endurance or power.

Incorporate cardio exercise into your weight training plan for the best results - it’s best to do your cardio workout after weight lifting, otherwise you’ll be starting the weights session feeling more tired, potentially increasing your risk of injury.

However, if your main goal is to improve your strength, your body may become confused if you do cardio too soon after your strength training, and it may start to burn muscle instead of fat, potentially hindering your progress.

Low-intensity cardio exercise can also be beneficial if you’re struggling with DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) after weight training to keep your body moving, your fitness levels up, and to prevent too much stiffness.

It’s important to make sure your body is properly fuelled before you start an intense exercise session, so look into which type of protein powder and other supplements can support your weight lifting journey and your overall fitness goals.

Cardio At LRF Gyms

LRF Gyms are the largest weight training facilities in Kent, but we also have dedicated cardio training areas at both our Ashford and Herne Bay sites. Our cardio equipment includes:

  • Treadmills

  • Exercise bikes

  • Stairmasters

  • Spin bikes

  • Cross trainers

There’s also some cardio equipment that’s available just at our Ashford gym, including rowers, curved treadmills, and a SKI erg.

All of our cardio equipment has been chosen to help you improve your cardio fitness so you can reach your overall goals. Find out about our different gym membership options today, or contact us here if you have any questions about our facilities.


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