When it comes to workouts, and specifically cardio, there is no one size that fits all prescription. This pertains to weight training and cardio, there are so many different ways to get results and we don’t need to get hung up on the small micro-habits, but instead focus on the bigger picture which should be making moving a part of your everyday habit.
In short, the amount of cardio you do weekly depends on your lifestyle, goals and how much time you have a week to dedicate specifically to cardio.
I do think everyone should be doing some type of cardiovascular training, yes. But that will look different for everyone and the beauty is you can still get results by varying a program in all sorts of different ways.
Here I break down specific cardio methods with a focus around popular goals that my clients and I have worked on. I also give you ideas on how to change your cardio routine.
Training for a marathon
You need to be running at least 4 times a week, with a specific focus on mileage every week, while varying your intensity between tempo (slower) runs and steady pace runs.
Looking to shed body fat or maintain their physique
I recommend the 4/2 method. This method consists of following a progressive strength training program 4 times a week and doing cardio 2 times a week. That progressive strength program should have a good mix of lifting heavy and then lifting for more hypertrophy by doing more reps/volume. The specific cardio I would recommend for this person should also be a mix of HIIT one day and steady state cardio another day.
The 3/3 method is another way you can split your workouts up if following a 3/3 lifting and cardio days. This means lifting 3 times a week and doing cardio 3 times a week. The same protocol applies here. Try and vary the intensity and have a good mix of HIT and steady state cardio.
Looking to put on muscle in the gym
The 5/1 method will work best. I would recommend doing 5 times a week of lifting and 1 time a week of cardio. Depending on how that person feels and how beat up their body is for consistently lifting and progressing each week, I would recommend doing some kind of steady state cardio so you don’t compromise recovery and tax the nervous system too much while still reaping the benefits of aerobic training.
Keep in mind that the more cardio you are doing in ratio to strength training, the more you should vary the intensity. If you consistently work all the different energy systems (aerobic, anaerobic aka high intensity and cardio and weights) you’ll have less of a chance of plateauing because your body will be less likely to adapt to particular stresses you are putting on it through your varied, creative and fun workouts.
The beauty of cardio workouts is there is no right or wrong answer. There are several different ways a person can mix their weight training program with their cardio program and still get the results they want.