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Cardio Workout Routine

The best cardio workout routine is not long, slow cardio, but instead a version of short, burst exercise called interval training. You've probably heard about intervals for fat loss, so let me explain the best workout program using this system.

Q: How many times a week can I do intervals?


Intervals can be done a maximum of 4 times per week. Again, a beginner will feel like they can do more, but only because they less likely to be able to work at a high-intensity.

A fit person will experience much more fatigue from interval training and will have a better understanding of why only 4 hard workouts can be done per week. Make sure you have one full day off per week from all intense exercise.

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Q: What is the best way (equipment) to do intervals?


For maximum results, treadmill sprinting is one of the best. However, the treadmill has several logistical problems (i.e. changing speeds, possibility of falling off) and sprinting has a greater risk of injury (due to the high velocity nature of the movement). For people with knee problems or shin splints, it is wise to avoid the treadmill.

Therefore, I prefer stationary cycling against a heavy resistance (allowing for 80-100 RPM to be achieved during the work interval). This provides the optimal combination of intensity and safety. All other machines and methods are generally accepted, however if you find you are NOT getting results, than your interval training method should be re-evaluated and perhaps you should experiment with another option.

Q: How does interval training work? I was talking to one of the guys who works at my gym and he explained that interval training works because by boosting up your speed/intensity it shoots your heart rate into the 'target zone', and when your heart beat is in this zone your body starts burning fat. Is this true? If it is, can't you just exercise while staying in this 'target zone' (150-160 BPM)?


No. The effectiveness of interval training has nothing to do with a specific heart rate. There are a lot of ways to get your heart rate up (think stressful situations), but that doesn't mean you are burning fat just because your heart rate is elevated. The "target zone" is one of the most misdirected fitness beliefs. Remember that your intervals will be performed at an intensity that you couldn't maintain for long periods of time.

Q: What do I do for the intervals on a bike? Would I keep the resistance the same and go faster or increase the resistance?,/h2>


Increasing the resistance is the only way to go - it gets better results. It may also be easier on the knees. I'm not a big fan of spinning at very high pedal rates and I believe it may contribute to cycling related overuse injuries. The bike is preferred for several reasons including that I find it more effective than Elliptical or Crosstrainer machines, but with less risk of injury compared to sprinting. The bottom line is that you can get a great workout with any machine, as long as you exercise according to the recommended intensity in the interval training section.

Q: What about using the jump rope for intervals?


It works great if you are good at it. Another alternative is to use bodyweight movements in a circuit. Please see the TT DB-BW Fusion Bonus Workout and the TT Bodyweight Cardio programs for bodyweight circuits.

Q: It says to perform the intervals at an 8/10 intensity level. What would be a comparable Max Heart Rate percentage for an 8/10 intensity? I know it may vary a lot from one person to another, but I'd like to have some objective measurement of the intensity level.


We couldn't put any absolute number on it, really. The relative intensity and a specific heart rate don't match up. In fact, we'd probably get very close to our maximum heart rate by sprinting at an 8/10 intensity for 30 seconds, even on a stationary cycle.

For beginners, this 8/10 subjective intensity level may correspond to a fast walk, and that might not get them anywhere near their maximum heart rate. On the other hand, a fast walk can get some people to their maximum heart rate. But remember that this type of training is not about your heart rate, it's about effort. You have to put aside your pre-conceived notion of cardio training.

If you don't feel comfortable training at an 8/10 intensity, or if for health reasons you shouldn't be training at that intensity, then don't push it. You should only be performing Turbulence Training if you have your physician's approval to perform strenuous exercise.

Once you have received your doctor's approval, just do what you can in the time span for the first workout, and improve each session. Turbulence Training allows you to adjust the program individually, as you should with all workouts. That's why an 8/10 intensity will be different for you when compared to other readers.

Here is an advanced interval training workout. If you are a beginner, do not use this cardio workout routine - instead, stick to the beginner interval training guidelines found in the Turbulence Training manual.

Advanced Turbulence Training Interval Guidelines

  • It is recommended that the stationary cycle be used for interval training because it allows for an easy transition between work and recovery.
  • Finish each interval workout with stretching for the tight muscle groups only.

Advanced Interval Workout A

  • Warm-up for 5 minutes getting progressively more intense with time.
  • Perform an interval by exercising for 30 seconds at a very hard pace (at a subjective 9/10 level of effort).
  • Follow that with "active rest" for 90 seconds by exercising at a slow pace (at a subjective 3/10 level of effort).
  • Repeat for a total of 6 intervals.
  • Finish with 5 minutes of very low intensity (3/10) exercise for a cool-down.

Advanced Interval Workout B

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