Everything about aerobic training

If you've ever wondered whether you need an aerobic or low-intensity steady-state (LISS) cardio, and what you can really gain by doing it, from today's article you’ll learn about it, as well as many important details about its correct application.

It’s true that each of us should take care of regular aerobic training, because it’s a great form of prevention of cardiovascular diseases. In addition, aerobic training is especially recommended for patients after cardiovascular events and having comorbidities, such as e.g.: ischemic heart disease, atrial fibrillation, overweight, obesity, diabetes or hypertension. You can choose any of its forms, which will be easy for you to introduce into your training routine and continue systematically. Below we present the most important information and recommendations regarding the popularly known "cardio".

What is aerobic training? 

Low-intensity steady-state cardio, or in other words aerobic training, perfectly strengthens the heart and lungs and improves muscle function. Some of the many important goals of aerobic training are to: improve athletic performance and improve training response. 

We call aerobic exercises that increase our heart rate and make breathing a bit challenging for us. They are continuous and your heart rate level is within the specified range as discussed below. 

During aerobic exercise, energy for muscle work is obtained mainly from the transformations that consume oxygen while burning glucose, fat and amino acids. 

Advantages of aerobic training 

The most important benefits of aerobic exercise include: 

  • strengthening the heart and lungs, 
  • improvement of muscle function, 
  • effective support for the reduction of adipose tissue by increasing energy expenditure, 
  • low load on the central nervous system (CNS) and a less strenuous type of exercise than, e.g., strength training, 
  • negative influence on the body's stress, 
  • very low level of injury and trauma.

Examples of aerobic activity

Aerobic training includes a lot of different physical activities, including:

  • walking and marching (including treadmill workout),
  • running (light jog),
  • skating,
  • skiing,
  • skating,
  • cycling (including stationary bike),
  • nordic walking,
  • swimming,
  • rowing,
  • training on an elliptical trainer,
  • training on the StairMaster,
  • training o stepper,
  • training on rowinh machine,
  • mountain hiking.

In addition, there are other activities that are carried out continuously and may be aerobic, such as, e.g.: certain types of dance (including classical) and yoga. By comparison, strength training isn’t aerobic in nature, as it’s done in short, intense bursts and then rested for a specific amount of time, causing your heart rate to change depending on the level of exertion and the load used.

How does aerobic training improve endurance?

Cardio workout increases the rate at which oxygen flows from the lungs and heart into the bloodstream so that it can be used up by the muscles.

The undoubted advantage of being aerobically trained is the ability to perform longer and more efficient training units before you feel tired. This allows you to: get a lower heart rate while exercising, keep your breathing calmer, and reduce the level of fatigue, which allows you to have more energy during and during exercise.

In addition, post-workout regeneration is faster than in the case of neglecting this aspect.

Aerobic capacity is measured under laboratory conditions, including while exercising on a treadmill or bike. It’s defined as the so-called maximal oxygen consumption, or VO2 max, which is a universal indicator of physical performance, as well as one of the most important performance parameters in endurance sports. Its task is to determine the maximum amount of oxygen that the body can absorb during intense exercise.

How often should you do aerobic training?

In order to obtain noticeable training effects, 3 to 5 cardio sessions a week should be carried out.

The duration of a single training unit should be 20 to 60 minutes.

Beginners musn’t forget to include a smaller training volume at the beginning of their adventure with aerobic training. Increasing the level of its difficulty should be done along with the improvement of endurance and capacity. A good starting point is to increase the difficulty of your exercise by about 10% per week to reduce the risk of injuries and injuries. This can be done, e.g., by: extending the duration of aerobic training or slightly increasing the speed of its performance.

It's also worth considering the alternation of various types of aerobic activity, interweaving, for example, running with exercises of a low level of difficulty, such as, e.g.: walking, cycling or swimming.

How hard should aerobic training be?

If your main goal is to improve endurance, low to moderate intensity aerobic training will be your best bet. This level is less strenuous and at the same time more enjoyable, and there is less chance of contusions and injuries than during high-intensity training.

Cardio, like any other, should be personalized in terms of the level of advancement and adjusted to the fitness level of each person who trains. Below are three ways to measure the intensity of your aerobic training.

1. "Conversation test"

During cardio workout, you should be able to say a few words without difficulty, then take a breath and then continue your conversation. If this is difficult for you, the pace of your aerobic training is most likely too fast. If, on the other hand, you can talk freely without getting out of breath, the pace is probably too slow and you are not training hard enough..

2. Heart rate 

Aerobic training has an exertion heart rate of between 60% and 70% of your maximum heart rate. For the calculation of your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220.

Maximum heart rate = 220  your age

60% of HR max = 0.6 x (220  your age)

70% of HR max = 0.7 X (220  your age)

Example for a person aged 20:

Maximum heart rate: 220  20 = 200

60% of maximum heart rate: 0.6 x 200 = 120

70% of maximum heart rate: 0.7 x 200 = 140

Based on the above calculations, the heart rate range for cardio training for a 20-year-old should be between 120 and 140 beats per minute (BPM). 

3. Difficulty level

There is also a method of determining the level of difficulty of a given type of physical activity based on the Borg scale (the so-called RPE scale of rating of perceived exertion). On its basis, the degree of fatigue during a given exercise is assessed on a scale from 0 to 10. The ideal range for aerobic training is between 4 and 6.

Borg scale:

   0 – Effortlessly 

   1 – Etremely easy

   2 – Very easy

   3  Easy

   4  Comfrotable

   5 – Fairly comfortable

   6 – Slightly hard

    7 – Somewhat hard

    8  Hard

    9 – Very hard

  10 – Extremely hard

Other Factors Affecting Aerobic Training

Basic fitness level

As a person's level of training declines, the body's response to cardio workout increases. However, with the passage of time and the amount of oxygen training performed, the level of difficulty of the effort should be systematically increased.


Genetics is a key aspect of basic fitness level and also affects the rate at which training results improve.


Aerobic training is a safe, effective and enjoyable form of physical activity. Introducing it to your daily routine is recommended for people of all ages, among others, in order to: take care of the cardiovascular system, maintain efficiency at a constant level, improve muscle function or support slimming processes. What's more, it doesn’t burden the central nervous system (CNS), doesn’t stress the body and has a very low level of trauma.

It's worth changing the type of aerobic activity performed and adjusting its amount to: the level of training advancement, health and body goals, and other forms of physical activity performed during the week. Therefore, the implementation of cardio workout will have a very positive effect on your health and fitness, and will allow you to enjoy them for a long time.


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