Fit 025 Cardio Program Design

Cardio Program Design can be divided into many categories, such as heart health, post rehab, weight loss and general fitness. The first step in designing a cardio program is to identify which category you are in and what your goals are.

In general when any sedentary person is starting a new program, they should check with a doctor for guidelines. Most often this is the heart health and post-rehab category but can also apply to anyone starting out. With post-rehab, usually a physical therapist will point you in the right direction or even design a program for you.

For general fitness, 3x a week of 20-30 minutes is adequate for endurance and conditioning. For weight loss, it depends on the amount of weight you want to lose. Those with less weight to lose will need to work at a higher intensity (if they have already been weight training regularly). Those who have more than 20 pounds to lose or are just beginning a program will want to focus on the time done more than the intensity. They may work from 20-40 minutes 3 to 5 days a week. Remember to use your weight training to boost the metabolism, burn calories and get some cardio work too by keeping rest to a minimum and challenging your muscles!

No matter what your goal, remember that less is more! Start out with a modest amount of cardio and add a few minutes a week, until you reach your program time goal. If you do too much too soon the body will rebel and hold on to fat stores or use muscle for energy!

Key points:
  • Pace is more important than level
  • Mix the modes of cardio exercises
  • Track your progress
  • Write a plan
  • Know your goal!
  • Cardio is best done after weight training
  • Longer cardio sessions on non-weight training days
  • Give your body a day or two of rest!
Link to Fit 025: Cardio Program Design

If you find this podcast helpful to your training or weight loss program then click here to submit a review on iTunes, I'd really appreciate it! Thanks!


  1. Jenny (jenkerr1)May 22, 2008 at 9:29 PM

    Hi Kira
    Thanks for another great podcast. This will help me complete my program design. I am not looking to loose any weight, I just want to maintain and tone up with weights. My program design for weights is working well thanks to you!

    I do have one question. I have never been a runner, I have tried to be but it just has never stuck with me. Do you think walking at a 4.0 pace is enough cardio for someone who is in good shape? I am considering adding some 1 minute high intensity bursts throughout the walk. What about a stair step machine? I see people walking on those at the gym, sometimes turned to one side or the other, I assume to target different muscles.

    I am 5'5" weigh 128 and have exercised for most of my life. I try do get 3 days of cardio, 2-3 days of weights and 2 days of yoga. Just thought I would throw it out and see what your opinion was on the cardio. I have to admit, I have been slacking in that department for a few months so your podcast came at the perfect time for me. Thanks again!

  2. Hey Jenny!
    your question brings up some good points! First of all, one does not have to run to get in shape! And the people standing sideways or backwards on a stepper are wasting their time!

    This is a pet peeve of mine, I see people do it at the gym all the time-but that doesn't make it right! If they would just face the right way, keep their posture centered and push thru the heels, they'd get a much better workout and results.

    Cardio doesn't have to be complicated, just consistent. Machines are meant to simulate real world movements. So, yes the stepper, the bike, the treadmill and any other machine or cardio mode is good when done properly!

    The 4.0 pace is a good fast walk. You should be able to interval with a 4.2 and maybe build to a 4.4. If you are using your arms to pump and taking long strides you'll know it's as good as running!

    Also, you can mix it up on your high intensity burst with the speed or the elevation.

    Your exercise plan is good. But are you getting the cardio after the weights on or a separate day? I know it depends on schedules and time restraints, but even 10 minutes of cardio a/f weights will burn fat and be more like 20 min on a non-weights day.

    With a little tweaking and consistency your cardio program will be lots of fun with great results too! Thanks for listening!

  3. Thanks for the information Kira!

    I do mix my cardio in sometimes after weights and sometimes when I can just fit it in, depending on the week!

    My goal is going to be consistency from here on out. Thanks again for the information and I look forward to the next podcast!

  4. Consistency is the key! Keep a log to track your speeds and consistency!

    And remember, quality over quantity!


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