Training

Is Cardio Important To Build A Lean, Shaped & Toned Body?

Written by Callum Melly


Is Cardio Important?


It’s all good having an aesthetically pleasing body, but if you can’t do anything with it, what’s the point? Anyone can add external stimulus to their body from weights/resistance training and follow a healthy balanced diet that will naturally encourage your body composition to change; however, without cardio conditioning, you are limiting your ability to burn stored body fat and improve your all round performance.

I always integrate specific cardio training (LISS and HIIT) into both my personal and clients exercise routines; it is a great way to improve cardiovascular and muscular performance, burn stored body fat, increase speed, power and strength!

If you want a shaped, toned and lean body, then I believe it is vital to combine your weights and resistance workouts with a LISS (low-intensity steady state) and HIIT (high-intensity interval training) cardio routine.


cardio


Low-Intensity Steady State

LISS cardio is a great way to burn stored body fat, it can be done anywhere, anytime and by anyone and as the name suggests, it isn’t very demanding on the body; however, it can significantly improve your cardiovascular fitness and ability to oxidise (break down) fat as an energy source.

I would recommend performing LISS cardio 3-5 times per week for 30-60 minutes and the best times would have either fasted (upon awakening and before eating) or post-resistance workout; this is because you will have little carbohydrates readily available as an energy source, providing you are working at 60-70% of your maximum heart rate, you will be able to primarily fuel this workout intensity with stored body fat as an energy source.

To find your optimal fat burn zone, you simply need to complete the following equation:

NOTE: Example is based on Callum being aged 27.

220 – 27 (your age) = 193

60% = 193 x 0.6 = 115.8
70% = 193 x 0.7 = 135.1

Callum’s optimal fat burn zone is between 115 & 135.


cardio workouts


Get The Most From Your Cardio Workout

I always recommend taking 10g BCAA powder intra resistance and cardio workout to prevent muscle breakdown; alternatively, a scoop of Myprotein Impact Whey Isolate pre-workout can also help to prevent muscle breakdown.

If you are physically able to and have no underlying injuries, you can also incorporate HIIT training into your exercise routine. I personally like to do my LISS cardio post weights/resistance workout on a Monday/Wednesday/Friday and then perform my HIIT cardio on a Tuesday/Thursday with a 48 hour rest period to maximise fat burn from EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) and allow enough time for my body and CNS (central nervous system) to recover.

You see, unlike LISS cardio and as the name HIIT suggests, it is extremely taxing on the body, but also very productive for burning calories for up to 48 hours after as well as improving cardiovascular conditioning, speed, strength and power.


sprinter


High-Intensity Interval Training

I like to perform the following advanced HIIT workout:

– 10 rounds.
– 20 seconds maximal effort incline sprints on a treadmill.
– 60 seconds recovery.

Depending on your current cardiovascular fitness level and again your ability to perform HIIT safely, you can simply increase your rest period between each round to allow yourself enough time to catch your breath before going all out again for your maximal effort 20-second sprint!


run


Summary

So… If you’re really into your weights and resistance training, but do a little cardio, I would recommend incorporating both LISS and HIIT cardio into your exercise routine and you will certainly burn more stored body fat and build a more shaped, toned & lean body.

Furthermore, your general cardiovascular fitness level will improve as well as muscular performance, this way you will be more efficient at pumping oxygen and nutrient-rich blood around the body to support both performance and recovery.

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Faye Reid

Faye Reid

Writer and expert

Faye Reid has a Bachelor of Science in Sport and Exercise Physiology and a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology and Sports Nutrition. Faye has worked with numerous high-profile organisations, such as Men's Health, Sky Sports, Huddersfield Giants, Warrington Wolves, British Dressage and GB Rowing, providing her expert sports science support. Find out more about Faye's experience here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/faye-reid-8b619b122/. She puts her passion into practice as goal attack for her netball team, and in competitive event riding.


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