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Cardio Fitness

Form or Speed: Which is More Important During Cardio?

Both form and speed are important for your exercise regimen. These factors have an impact on the effectiveness of your cardiovascular health.

Published: 7/23/18

Both form and speed are important depending on what you want to gain from your exercise regimen. These factors have an impact on the effectiveness of your cardiovascular health.

If you do not have the proper form, you will be prone to injury. Injuries can sideline exercise, and thus your progress. Nobody wants that. Working out at a snail’s pace may not be the best idea for everyone, but for those who are overweight or recovering from any number of maladies, this is the best approach. After all, you have heard the tale of the tortoise and the hare, right?

What Should I Do?

Listen to your body. Tailor your exercise to you.

The speed at which you run should match your fitness level and your goals. Period. Don’t overdo it. Thinking about your overall health, you should consider what makes the most sense for your goals.

Bursts of high-intensity running, for example, have been proven, in study after study, to be more beneficial than a longer, prolonged aerobic activity at a slower pace. A recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that brisk walking is better for overall health than those who walk at a slower pace. But, there is a caveat: Those who are overweight or suffering from injuries, should walk slower to prevent injury, and then work up to a faster pace over time. 

The short answer: Know your body.

The Science Behind Your Cardio Routine

If you’re able to talk on your Bluetooth earbuds or to your jogging partner while running, you’re likely not working hard enough. Over time, this pace just won’t cut it if you want to get the full benefits of healthy exercise.

Low-intensity cardio doesn’t burn fat or carbohydrates properly. If you’re only running a couple of times a week, running for speed will get you more bang for your buck in terms of fitness benefits—as long as you give your body time to recover in between runs. You must also be aware of your form, as it’s essential to staying in the game.

Switch up your pace, but don’t limit your intensity level because you prefer the slower, longer jog. To get the full benefit of exercise, you will need to push yourself. Going at an easy pace uses fewer muscle fibers while pushing yourself places a good kind of stress on your muscles—the kind that encourages your body to adapt accordingly and improve over time.

The bottom line is you’ll burn more calories per mile when you move faster—even if it means you’re doing your cardio for a shorter amount of time.

An Exercise Plan

Depending on whether you are looking to tone up, lose weight, or simply maintain the body you have, the two types of cardio for you to consider are interval training and longer, slower cardio.

Interval training requires intervals between one and five minutes as a general rule of thumb (try two minutes fast, three minutes slower, repeating the cycle for a full 30 minutes).  Long, slow distance runs are pretty self-explanatory—running longer distances at an easier pace. Your heart rate should stay under 150, and you can most likely hold a conversation.

Even if you’re not looking to gain muscle mass, you should also make sure that you are completing strength training consistently enough in tandem with cardio training to prevent injury. This could just mean adding some strength training to your workout schedule two to three times a week for about 20 minutes at a time. This should be enough to keep muscles limber to prevent injuries.

If you want a workout that includes strength and cardio, try out one of our Team Training classes.