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Three Cardiovascular Zones to Lose Weight

December 7, 2012 - By Christophe Alarie

Temps de lecture 3 minutes

When training on a cardiovascular machine, it can be hard to determine if our efforts are leading us toward our objective. In which cardiovascular zones are we into depending on the effort given? There are many ways to measure effort: with the VO2max percentage, the maximum percentage of aerobic speed, the rating of perceived exertion, or the heart rate. A simpler and very efficient method is to monitor your breathing during effort.

There are three cardiovascular zones

1 – Light cardio

This zone could be defined as any prolonged activity that doesn’t cause shortness of breath. In this zone, gains for cardiovascular health are limited, i.e., you will need much more time to improve your cardio. In order to improve your maximum rate of oxygen consumption (VO2max), it would be more efficient to perform a cardiovascular activity that will cause some shortness of breath. Regarding energy expenditure, it is limited, but the advantage of this zone is that it can be extended on a long period. Physical activities such as walking, cleaning, or low-intensity cycling are good ways to spend additional energy during the day.

2 – Moderate cardio

This zone begins when shortness of breath makes it harder to speak. It is the ideal zone for weight loss. In addition to greatly increasing the capacity of the cardiovascular system, it is also a zone where we can spend a lot of energy. Of course, it is not always easy to stay in this zone. On the other hand, the benefits on your body and energy will be felt much faster.

3 Intense cardio

In this zone, speaking becomes a real challenge! The intense zone allows only for short bursts of effort followed by rest periods in the lighter zone to recover. This zone gives the best results in increasing both your VO2max and energy expenditure. The problem is that we can’t stay there for very long. This is why a workout in the intense zone needs to be organized. A personnal trainer can help you create one. Bootcamp-style and athletic group classes are ideal to reach this zone, which can be hard to attain when exercising alone on a cardio machine.

You can use your own breathing to assess which of the cardiovascular zones you are into. Because each zone has its strengths and weaknesses. I recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of daily moderate cardio, and at least one hour of light physical activity every day to reach your objectives.


Three Cardiovascular Zones to Lose Weight is a post from Nautilus Plus. The Nautilus Plus blog aims to help people in their journey to fitness through articles on training, nutrition, motivation, exercise and healthy recipes.
Copyright © Nautilus Plus 2012

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