Part 1 of this series focused solely on food and proper nutrition. Part 2 was all about strength training which is 50% of the exercise component. If you have read the first two parts of this series you should have a good understanding of why a healthy diet and resistance training is crucial to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. If you haven't read the first two parts, READ THEM. Finally though, I want to focus on the fat burning effect of cardiovascular exercise to complete this series.
3) Cardiovascular Training
Technically, anything you do that increases your heart rate for an extended period of time can count as cardio. You can jog, bike, do H.I.I.T training, weight lifting intervals, swim etc. When speaking of cardio I am making a reference to exercising inside your target heart rate zone (THRZ) for a minimum of 20 minutes not including a warm up. If you are doing steady cardio like jogging or biking your heart rate will generally be around the same. If you are doing H.I.I.T or some other type of interval workout your heart rate will be up and down as intensity continues to increase and decrease. Both techniques contribute to reaching and maintaining a healthy weight so there isn't really a correct format. The main takeaway is that you have some form of cardio part of your weekly exercise routine.
So what is a THRZ? Well it's basically a percentage of your maximum heart rate. We all have a maximum heart rate which can be found by using the Karvonen formula. The formula calls for you to subtract your age from 220 (220 - age). Once that number is calculated you multiply it by 65% and 85% which successfully calculates your THRZ. Depending on your fitness level you may need to decrease or increase your THRZ but the 65-85% range is a good place to start. Once your THRZ is calculated, it is your goal to stay in that zone for your entire cardio workout. Here is a look at the formula all together if you are 30 years old.
190 x .65=124
190 x .85=161
Your THRZ is 124-161
The reason why your THRZ is so important is because it keeps your workout at the right intensity to target fat loss. When you exercise for extended periods of time at the right intensity, your body becomes very efficient at using fat as its main energy source. This means fat will start to fall of your body. For those of you who are saying "I burn more calories when I lift weights or workout at high intensity" you are probably right. However, you must remember that calories come in 3 forms, carbohydrate, protein, and fat, and when it comes to burning fat, there is nothing like a workout spent in your THRZ. If you want to track you heart rate easy and efficiently get yourself a heart rate monitor. There are many out there but personally I use a Samsung Geart Fit 2 Pro. One last nugget on cardiovascular exercise. Find something that you enjoy and/or are confident that you can consistently do 2 to 4 times per week. As long as your cardio workout lasts AT LEAST 20 minutes and you remain in your THRZ you will burn fat.
So in summary, the three components of a healthy weight are Food (be smart), Resistance Training, and Cardiovascular Training. If you do all three properly and regularly you can achieve and/or maintain any weight you set. Good Luck.