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Cardio School 101

In the last 2 months, we've covered the basics and fundamentals of both nutrition and training that we feel are important to know, especially for those first starting to understand and take their health and goals seriously.

We are rounding out our education series by talking all things CARDIO. This post covers the 3 kinds of cardio, the benefits of each, and how to implement them into your weekly protocol.


Laying the Groundwork

Before diving into the 3 different kinds of cardio, we felt it would be important to first educate on the 3 energy systems that are used by the body, depending on the kind of energy expenditure being performed.

  • Anaerobic Alactic (ATP-CP) System

    • This system uses your body's creatine phosphate stores

    • It is used for very short durations (10 seconds or less) via quick, explosive movements

  • Anaerobic Lactic (Glycolytic) System

    • This system provides energy for medium-to-high bursts of activity (10-90 seconds)

    • This system is important when shifts or transitions are present (basketball, soccer, hockey)

  • Aerobic System

    • This system provides energy for low-to-medium intensity activities (2 minutes - a few hours)

    • This system requires oxygen, whereas the other 2 do not, and is most utilized in sports or activities that have repeated shifts or sustained exercise (long distance swimming, rowing, cycling, jogging)

Non-scale Benefits of Cardio

That's right. There are so many other reasons why cardio should be a regular part of your week aside from weight loss/maintenance. Check these out:

  • It helps regulate blood pressure

  • It helps control blood sugar levels

  • It improves heart health

  • It can improve digestion (mobility = motility)

  • It improves mental healthy

  • It strengthens the immune system

Cardio (all forms) reduce the risk of several chronic conditions (heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, stroke, and some cancers). Weight-bearing cardio can also reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

Types of Cardio

LISS Cardio (Low-intensity Steady State)

A good way to remember this form of cardio is "low and slow". The goal heart rate range for LISS is 50-65% of your max heart rate. This form of cardio allows for a steady pace that can be sustained for a prolonged period of time with relative ease. Along with the benefits listed above, LISS cardio is appropriate for all levels of fitness and allows for easy recovery.

Some examples of LISS cardio include:

  • outdoor walks

  • use of treadmill, elliptical or stationary bike at a low intensity

  • bike riding outdoors

  • hiking on a relatively easy trail

MISS Cardio (Moderate-intensity Steady State)

The goal heart rate for MISS ranges between 65-80% of your max heart rate. This form of cardio allows for a steady, yet more challenging intensity, but can be performed by most all individuals. A big benefit of MISS cardio (along with the others listed above) is that it's really great for improving cardiorespiratory endurance while also allowing for relatively easy recovery.

Some examples of MISS cardio include:

  • indoor cardio equipment that can support a sustained intensity (stationary bike, assault bike, rower, treadmill, elliptical, stairmaster)

  • outdoor hiking that includes steeper inclines

  • jogging/running

  • swimming

HIIT Cardio (High-intensity Interval Training)

This form of cardio alternates between short bouts of "all out" high-intensity work followed by longer, low intensity or rest periods. The goal heart rate range for HIIT is 80-100% of your max heart rate. HIIT is often used by more seasoned athletes or individuals as it may not be suitable for those newer to training or untrained due to the higher risk of injury and correct implementation.

HIIT cardio intervals work in "ratio" form and usually on a 1:3 basis; meaning the rest or low intensity portion is 3x the length of the bout of work portion. An example of this is 20 seconds of all-out work followed by 60 seconds of rest. This is repeated for an X amount of "rounds". This can be done via sprints, spin bike, assault bike, rower or battle ropes.


As you've read, cardio (in all forms) is super beneficial, but each have a specific purpose and that ultimately determines when and how much of it should be included in your weekly exercise programming. As coaches, we guide our clients through a detailed cardio protocol (this is included in ALL of our coaching programs) as we see the value that prioritized, structured and strategized cardio can bring.

Interested in our coaching? Fill out an inquiry form and we'll get connected to set up a FREE consultation to see if your goals and our coaching would be well-aligned!

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