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Best cardio for heart health

Gunsmith

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If you were doing cardio strictly for cardiovascular health what do you feel is most effective in regards to duration and heart rate??
I personally think doing HIIT works best , basically on the track I sprint the straight away then walk the curves , I find that an all out 100yd sprint really gets my rate up then a brisk walk allows it to drop back into a reasonable range before the next sprint.
Being lazy and not having access to the track this year due to the COVID bullshit I've been just doing 10min on the stepmill to get my heart rate up into the 75% range , BUT I have noticed that when doing squats or a bug session of heavy dead lift that I'm not recovering as quickly as I use to when I was doing sprints so it has me wondering if I'm not getting in the best cardio.
Being in my mid 40's now and deciding to stay on a but more gear than just TRT through the "off season" I want to make sure I'm doing all I can for cardiovascular health.

So what is everyone opinions on this or what have you seen or read that indicates one way or another
 

alfresco

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Just walk. Briskly. Long and frequently. Up and down if you can. First thing in the morning.
Can do it most anywhere. No special equipment required. And low impact. It is a good
time for me to slow things down, get out of my brain and into my body. It is also good
time to listen to audio books or podcasts (iPod). Leave the phone at home. And don't
worry about losing muscle.
 

FuriousAngus

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Investing in a bicycle was the best thing I did for my heart. I can easily maintain high effort while also keeping my legs relatively fresh (mainly tax my heart and lungs), and it's LOADS of fun! I do about an hour to an hour and a half 3 times a week. Averaging 150-155 HR. I'd say pick the form of cardio you enjoy the most and make it work for your goals. My log book started moving drastically after I picked up cycling. Maybe it's related, maybe it's not.

I've been doing 10-20k steps a day for ages and I don't think it really does anything to actually improve cardiovascular endurance.. still a great idea tho,for a million other reasons.
 

IronLion2

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It really needs to be constant steady state for cardiovascular health. Im also bias, for myself and my athletes we pick something that builds or reinforces a skill set.
 

TheOtherOne55

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As someone who has done both (offseason and pre-contest), I FEEL the healthiest and have the best bloodwork on HIIT.
Steady state is great and I don't mind doing it, but the times my body is the freshest is when I'm doing cardio that requires me to catch my freaking breathe. Stepmill HIIT, Bike HIIT, pushing sleds, etc. Do I enjoy it, hell no. But I think small bouts of intense effort is good for overall health, recovery, etc.
 

Kaladryn

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I think a lot of the confusion about cardio comes from language and definitions.

10min on the stepmill getting your heart rate up to 75% isn't really cardio, nor is it HIIT for that matter. 75% isn't high enough to be 'high-intensity' by anything but non-athlete standards and 10 minutes isn't long enough.

I'm 47 years old, 75% of my estimated maximum is around 130 bpm, this is extremely easy and I can sustain it for an hour, easily. This would be my definition of LISS. For an untrained athlete or semitrained athlete this could be sufficient, but not for someone in good shape exercising on a regular basis.

Now when I push my heart rate up to 140-145 range, now I'm doing my definition of "steady-state" cardio, I can maintain this for 30 to 45 minutes on a daily basis and get great results.

If I want to do HIIT cardio, now I have to start pushing my heart rate up into the 150s, now I'm pushing past my anaerobic threshold, I can't maintain this for more than a couple minutes, usually 2-3 before I have to back off and go back down to the 140s. If I could maintain this for 5 minutes or longer, it probably isn't sufficiently intense to be HIIT, as I am UNDER my anaerobic threshold. The biggest mistakes most people make during HIIT cardio is 1, they don't get their heart rate high enough during the high-intensity interval, and 2, they back off too much during the low-intensity interval. Your heart rate shouldn't drop more than 10bpm during the recovery interval, and might not drop more than 5. HERE IS THE HUGE PROBLEM WITH HIIT CARDIO: if your recovery phase isn't sufficiently difficult, even though your heart rate may stay elevated, your heart isn't working hard, it's just beating fast, it's in "free fall" and you are not going to get proper benefit from the HIIT session when this is the case. This is why weightlifting, which is a form of HIIT training, is ineffective at conditioning the cardiovascular system, heartrate during your set is very high, and is definitely HIIT, but heartrate between sets, even though it will still beat fast, isn't strenuous enough to stimulate cardiovascular improvement.

My recommendation is to first learn (and get good at) steady-state cardio that is sufficiently intense, in a zone above 75% of your maximum, for an extended period of time (30 minutes minimum, 40+ preferably). Now once you can easily "crush" a hard steady-state cardio session for 45 minutes at 140-150 bpm, how move to some HIIT training where you are pushing above that for 2-3 minute intervals, followed by a return to that level for the same period. The difference between your high-intensity and low-intensity intervals is subtle and should only involve a slight small adjustment in pace/rate/resistance.

The best cardio exercise? The one that gets your heart rate up the highest without overly taxing any one muscle group. Running can be a good option, but many large bodybuilders will be limited by their calves going anaerobic. Exercise bikes will often be quad dominate and quads going anaerobic will limit you until you do them a lot. Ellipticals seem to be the best overall balance of lower-body muscles and tend to accomplish this the most efficiently, the main issue with them is that the transfer stress away from knees but into the hips.

Pro tip: don't use handles while doing any cardio, arms need to move naturally in order for the back and hips to move naturally with the legs, studies have been done on this, don't use the handles, think perfect running form, even on the elliptical.
 

Wayacrucis

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Could be complete bro science, but I feel during weight training sessions the heart is forced to endure a tremendous amount of pressure for a short period of time. Think squats, barbell rows.

Steady state on the other hand, seems to be the reverse in the sense that the heart is placed under moderate pressure for a long duration.

I feel that for a bodybuilder, incorporating steady state would be the best option to cover all grounds.
 

TheOtherOne55

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None of the studies or literature I've read talk about your heart rate "free falling" or your active rest not being intense enough. Some of the OLD HIIT literature had parameters where they wanted the athlete's HR to stay but lots of studies just want active recovery...not just sitting there waiting for the next interval. And that's just to prevent lactate buildup. Do u have any links to this? I usually get my latest stuff from Suppversity and they have great up to date info.
The problem is that there are several benefits to HIIT, more than just fat loss.
Increased insulin sensitivity, peak power output, an increase VO2max, etc.
Realistically, as long as you are zig zagging your heart rate and pushing yourself HARD, hard enough where you are sucking wind and gasping for air during your "active recovery," you are doing HIIT and getting some benefit from it.

I actually think the more difficult thing is figuring out which way to gas yourself the most effectively.
Personally, the Airdyne bike is the biggest ass kicker I've ever used. I can get 15-30 secs hard as I can on that.

The biggest mistakes most people make during HIIT cardio is 1, they don't get their heart rate high enough during the high-intensity interval, and 2, they back off too much during the low-intensity interval. Your heart rate shouldn't drop more than 10bpm during the recovery interval, and might not drop more than 5. HERE IS THE HUGE PROBLEM WITH HIIT CARDIO: if your recovery phase isn't sufficiently difficult, even though your heart rate may stay elevated, your heart isn't working hard, it's just beating fast, it's in "free fall" and you are not going to get proper benefit from the HIIT session when this is the case. This is why weightlifting, which is a form of HIIT training, is ineffective at conditioning the cardiovascular system, heartrate during your set is very high, and is definitely HIIT, but heartrate between sets, even though it will still beat fast, isn't strenuous enough to stimulate cardiovascular improvement.
 

Kaladryn

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None of the studies or literature I've read talk about your heart rate "free falling" or your active rest not being intense enough. Some of the OLD HIIT literature had parameters where they wanted the athlete's HR to stay but lots of studies just want active recovery...not just sitting there waiting for the next interval. And that's just to prevent lactate buildup. Do u have any links to this? I usually get my latest stuff from Suppversity and they have great up to date info.
The problem is that there are several benefits to HIIT, more than just fat loss.
Increased insulin sensitivity, peak power output, an increase VO2max, etc.
Realistically, as long as you are zig zagging your heart rate and pushing yourself HARD, hard enough where you are sucking wind and gasping for air during your "active recovery," you are doing HIIT and getting some benefit from it.

I actually think the more difficult thing is figuring out which way to gas yourself the most effectively.
Personally, the Airdyne bike is the biggest ass kicker I've ever used. I can get 15-30 secs hard as I can on that.
I've always been interested in why resistance training with weights, which seems like an ideal form of interval training, doesn't produce results with regards to cardiovascular conditioning. A well-known cardiologist who did the medical assessments for the Secret Service and was a friend of mine for many years gave me the most interesting answer, that between sets the heart is beating fast but not actually working hard, he described it like riding a bike downhill or 'free falling' instead of actually working, much like time under tension in weight training. Over the decades, I have bounced this theory off of a few other cardiologists who thought it was accurate also.

HIIT training is mostly just anaerobic threshold training, it's been around forever and isn't anything new, HIIT is just a buzzword that has tried to capitalize on the popularity of HIT training in the 90s. The purpose of HIIT training is generally to raise the anaerobic threshold, which doesn't really happen with lower intensity cardio. Additional anaerobic threshold training doesn't really benefit bodybuilders, as they engage in anaerobic threshold training every day lifting weights. Most bodybuilders can operate at a relatively high heart rate and stay aerobic. Bodybuilders are after the usually after the cardiovascular conditioning effects of HIIT training, not just raising the anaerobic threshold.

During HIIT training, lower intensity intervals are not supposed to be "active rest" they are just supposed to be JUST UNDER the anaerobic threshold. You CAN achieve anaerobic threshold training with rest between intervals (as in weight training), but you will lose many of the other benefits of HIIT training if you do so.

It's not just about 'zigzagging the heart rate' sure you will get some benefit as you say, but it's not optimal. You will especially see good results in studies on non-elite athletes who use any kind of HIIT, even more so because most people incorrectly do cardio at too low of a heart rate.

15-30 second intervals isn't enough, that is just anaerobic training, not anaerobic threshold training.

Remember, the purpose of most popular training theories and methods is ultimately to make it easier and allow people to phone it in. Real HIIT training isn't easy, everything above your anaerobic threshold will hurt, and the 'recovery' segment should be difficult, not just "catching your breath."

I recommend judging the quality of your HIIT training by how much it lowers your blood pressure, you will get better results the harder you push.
 

Kaladryn

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I actually think the more difficult thing is figuring out which way to gas yourself the most effectively.
Personally, the Airdyne bike is the biggest ass kicker I've ever used. I can get 15-30 secs hard as I can on that.
The best way to figure out how to "gas yourself" (which is an inaccurate description of what you are after during HIIT training, if only it was that simple) is to find the cardio that raises your heart rate with the LEAST perceived exertion, this means the maximum number of muscles are working in conjunction. The worst way is cardio that will make you back off because of one limiting muscle group that is failing.

It isn't about going super anaerobic and gassing yourself out (ie you can't get enough oxygen), it's about going slightly anaerobic and staying there for as long as you can, then backing off so you can do it again.

You could do it in many other ways, but it wouldn't be as efficient.
 

TheOtherOne55

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I understand what you're saying to your specific goal—increase the anaerobic threshold— AND for this thread when discussing "heart health." But in the realities of BBing, NO BBer is doing HIIT for that. Im simply discussing HIIT on its benefits to BBers. I'm only putting it in those terms because no one on this forum is trying to increase their peak power, their max power output or their VO2max.

I would suggest checking up on some of the new HIIT data. 15-30 sec HIIT works and I can find studies, BBing coaches and college strength and conditioning coaches that can testify to that. And active rest is not specified as just below the anaerobic threshold. Suppversity had a two part HIIT section discussing the original studies and then all the new info and how that applies to regular trainees, high level athletes and so on. Some of the stuff you are saying makes far more sense for an Olympic level athlete and not someone just trying to find the best cardio for heart health.



I've always been interested in why resistance training with weights, which seems like an ideal form of interval training, doesn't produce results with regards to cardiovascular conditioning. A well-known cardiologist who did the medical assessments for the Secret Service and was a friend of mine for many years gave me the most interesting answer, that between sets the heart is beating fast but not actually working hard, he described it like riding a bike downhill or 'free falling' instead of actually working, much like time under tension in weight training. Over the decades, I have bounced this theory off of a few other cardiologists who thought it was accurate also.

HIIT training is mostly just anaerobic threshold training, it's been around forever and isn't anything new, HIIT is just a buzzword that has tried to capitalize on the popularity of HIT training in the 90s. The purpose of HIIT training is generally to raise the anaerobic threshold, which doesn't really happen with lower intensity cardio. Additional anaerobic threshold training doesn't really benefit bodybuilders, as they engage in anaerobic threshold training every day lifting weights. Most bodybuilders can operate at a relatively high heart rate and stay aerobic. Bodybuilders are after the usually after the cardiovascular conditioning effects of HIIT training, not just raising the anaerobic threshold.

During HIIT training, lower intensity intervals are not supposed to be "active rest" they are just supposed to be JUST UNDER the anaerobic threshold. You CAN achieve anaerobic threshold training with rest between intervals (as in weight training), but you will lose many of the other benefits of HIIT training if you do so.

It's not just about 'zigzagging the heart rate' sure you will get some benefit as you say, but it's not optimal. You will especially see good results in studies on non-elite athletes who use any kind of HIIT, even more so because most people incorrectly do cardio at too low of a heart rate.

15-30 second intervals isn't enough, that is just anaerobic training, not anaerobic threshold training.

Remember, the purpose of most popular training theories and methods is ultimately to make it easier and allow people to phone it in. Real HIIT training isn't easy, everything above your anaerobic threshold will hurt, and the 'recovery' segment should be difficult, not just "catching your breath."

I recommend judging the quality of your HIIT training by how much it lowers your blood pressure, you will get better results the harder you push.
 

Kaladryn

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I understand what you're saying to your specific goal—increase the anaerobic threshold— AND for this thread when discussing "heart health." But in the realities of BBing, NO BBer is doing HIIT for that. Im simply discussing HIIT on its benefits to BBers. I'm only putting it in those terms because no one on this forum is trying to increase their peak power, their max power output or their VO2max.

I would suggest checking up on some of the new HIIT data. 15-30 sec HIIT works and I can find studies, BBing coaches and college strength and conditioning coaches that can testify to that. And active rest is not specified as just below the anaerobic threshold. Suppversity had a two part HIIT section discussing the original studies and then all the new info and how that applies to regular trainees, high level athletes and so on. Some of the stuff you are saying makes far more sense for an Olympic level athlete and not someone just trying to find the best cardio for heart health.
Bodybuilding is actually HUGELY dependant on cardiovascular fitness and most actual bodybuilders are paying a lot of attention to this. Also, Bodybuilders are in a small subset of HIIT users, because they are already doing anaerobic training. Cardio isn't required for getting lean and many 'experts' are just promoting HIIT for fatloss, which is pointless, you can achieve any fatloss goals you want without cardio at all, cardio is mainly for health, which is required for the marathon that is bodybuilding.
 

TheOtherOne55

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I never said that BBing isn't dependant on cardiovascular fitness. And no one is debating if cardio is required for getting lean. I simply pointed out that I AM looking at it from a BBing perspective (which probably doesn't fit this thread since the OP is talking about heart health).

I've pointed you to new info, readings and studies on HIIT and you don't seem too interested. No problem tho lol.


Bodybuilding is actually HUGELY dependant on cardiovascular fitness and most actual bodybuilders are paying a lot of attention to this. Also, Bodybuilders are in a small subset of HIIT users, because they are already doing anaerobic training. Cardio isn't required for getting lean and many 'experts' are just promoting HIIT for fatloss, which is pointless, you can achieve any fatloss goals you want without cardio at all, cardio is mainly for health, which is required for the marathon that is bodybuilding.
 

Elvia1023

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I am going to bed so will keep this relatively short. I believe a mixture is optimal for most people over time. If solely concerned with heart health then what Kal states is spot on and in simple terms any cardio that is hard over 30-45 mins is going to work. Now when looking at all areas and not just heart health things can change but of course you don't need cardio to get lean. However certain machines can sometimes be of great benefit to the bodybuilder in regards to their physique (fat loss, muscles etc) and for heart health. An example could be someone with stubborn calves get on a stepper or incline treadmill and do all (or some/most) on your tiptoes and/or calf raises on every step. You want your glutes (etc) to come in more get on the stepmill and squeeze them on every step.

The most important thing for most people is simply doing cardio consistently. For 90% of guys who aren't super committed to training that could mean just picking the machine or activity you enjoy the most. Perhaps you want to hit your back or legs harder so that could come into play (rowing machine and exercise bike etc). So I don't think this question has a one answer fits all and is very individual. Just make sure you go fairly hard and you stay consistent. Even just taking multiple brisk walks throughout the day is massively beneficial to your overall health and can help with your physique (digestion, fat loss etc).
 

Fit2Serve

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just for the record i dislike cardio...... i used to love it. began my athletic life as a devout soccer player. and the running was my fave part.
hell, not anymore. f that shit. but i do it...
right now, i look at it like this: i wanna burn most calories i can in shortest time AND want to work my heart n lungs sooooo i feel HIIT is best of all worlds.
i do treadmill. high incline at high speed then lower incline a bit and lower speed n back and forth. nothing set in stone i just run til gassed then reduce inlcine and speed then repeat. always repeat....
-F2S
 
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ripriot

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Jumping rope is great for me. You can use one of “Lifelines” weighted jump ropes or a speed rope. Lot of different versions of HIIT with jump ropes. You probably could simulate your track experience with a jump rope. I hate the tread mill and long distance running...
 

b-boy

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1. Train like a fucking SAVAGE,
2. Stay moving, walk often and daily, take small walks after meals.

Old man heart healthy cardio ^^^ (ME)
 

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