Optimum Performance Through Education – November 2010

Achieving a More Balanced Physique

PART 2 OF 3: Cardiorespiratory Conditioning

Cardiorespiratory conditioning is an important component to achieving a more balanced physique as well as many other reported health benefits listed in the table below.

Reported Benefits of Cardiorespiratory Exercise
  • Reduction in blood pressure
  • Increased HDL cholesterol
  • Increased aerobic work capacity
  • Decreased clinical symptoms on anxiety, tension and depression
  • Decreased resting heart rate
  • Increased mobilization and utilization of fat
  • Decreased total cholesterol
  • Decreased body fat stores
  • Reduction in glucose-stimulated insulin secretion
  • Increased mobilization and utilization of fat

Cardiorespiratory fitness best describes the health and function of the heart, lungs and circulatory system. It can be also be used to describe the capacity of the lungs to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide with the blood, and the circulatory system’s ability to transport blood and nutrients to metabolically active tissues for sustained periods without undue fatigue (Fahey, D., Insel, P., Roth, W., 1994).

One of the most difficult things people seem to express to me is that they are limited in the amount of time they have to complete their training. Often times people believe that it is necessary to spend 40 minutes or more completing just their cardio. This is a lot of time, especially if you are also incorporating a strength training routine. What if I told you that you could complete your cardio in only 20 minutes and still receive all the same benefits? Have you heard of High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T.)? Studies have shown that this type of training is recommended to help improve overall fitness level, reduce body fat, improve lactate threshold, improve exercise performance and increase your anaerobic capacity (Haff, 2010).

This type of training requires you to train at a work/rest ratio of 2:1. For example you would run at near maximum capacity for 40 seconds and then recover by jogging or even walking for 20 seconds, then repeat the cycle. H.I.I.T. training doesn’t usually last for longer than 20 minutes. You can set your own 2:1 ratio as you assess your own fitness level. Some individuals may choose to begin with a 40/20 second split while others may choose to complete a 60/30 second work to rest ratio. I’ll be honest, if you’re being completely true to yourself this is a tough workout, but it is very effective. Give it a try!!

Yours in fitness,


Fahey, D., Insel, P., Roth, W. (1994). Fit and Well. Core Concepts and Labs in Physical Fitness and Wellness. Mountain View, Calif.: Mayfield.

Haff, G, Gregory. (2010). Fitness Frontlines. NSCA’s Performance Training Journal. 9(1), 4.

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