Cardio Workout at the Gym: Beginner’s Guide

cardio workout at the gym

Regular fitness exercises will help you forget about health problems, get your body in shape and your nerves in order. There will be energy that will allow you to lead a more productive life. This can be achieved by alternating strength and cardio workouts. However, the majority of beginners aren’t ready for a full-fledged cardio workout at the gym.

Today, we are taking a closer look at this matter. Let’s go!

What Is Cardio Workout?

Translated from Greek, “cardio” means heart. Of course, when performing any physical exercise, both static and dynamic, the heart begins to beat faster. But with dynamic exercises and cyclic sports, this effect is more pronounced.

Cardio training is a cyclic exercise of dynamic exercise for extended periods of time and without major rest breaks when the heartbeat can return to a typical pre-workout resting state.

Benefits of Cardio Workout at the Gym

Cardio workout

In people with a sedentary lifestyle, the cardiovascular system is 20 times less effective. Cardio is good for everyone as it has been shown to have the following effects:

  • Strengthen the heart muscle and increase the strength of the cardiac output;
  • Increase the tone of arterial and venous vessels;
  • Increase the number of capillaries and mitochondria found in muscle cells that convert glucose into energy;
  • Train the respiratory system, improving the performance of lung ventilation;
  • Improve indicators of speed, strength, and general endurance;
  • Have a beneficial effect on the work of all systems and organs.

Regular cardio can help you lose weight and keep your weight under control, prevent skeletal muscles from losing insulin sensitivity, and bone density from becoming less dense. In addition, cardio is a 100% way to get rid of worries and negative emotions, as well as a guarantee that a stressful situation does not flow into a depressive state.

Types of Cardio Workouts at the Gym + Outdoors

Below you can see what types of cardio are available for today, and approximately how many calories you can lose by doing one type of cardio or another.

Cardio typeCalories burned in 20 minutes
Nordic walking140
Stayer run270
Marathon run100 kcal/km
Running with obstaclesfrom 250
Running on sand (mud, water)350
Sprints from a low start400
Run up stairs550
Jumping on the platform240
Triathlon (20:20:20)170
Jumping rope330

Note! High-intensity and extra-maximum interval training, as well as functional circuit training, are permissible only for people with excellent physical fitness indicators and appropriate training level.

How and Where to Start Cardio: Important Tips

The golden rule of cardio is a gradual increase in exercise. For beginners, we list other important nuances of cardio training, the observance of which will protect against injury and overload, increase motivation, and will not discourage the desire for such necessary cardio exercises:

  • Exercise only in a comfortable sports uniform;
  • The structure of any cardio workout – 10% warm up + 80% cardio load + 10% cool down;
  • Monitor your heart rate (hr) periodically by measuring your pulse;
  • Do not do exercises that cause pain and/or rapid and severe fatigue;
  • Start your workout at least 45, and preferably 60–120 minutes after the main meal, and start eating densely no earlier than 30 minutes after it ends;
  • During the entire cardio workout, if desired, drink small sips and small portions of water or a sports drink;
  • Do not do cardio on a 100% empty stomach – 15 minutes before the start of your workout, eat half an apple or a banana;
  • Give up cardio training if you feel unwell, have pain syndrome, fever.

Beginners should also know that for a more pronounced effect, it takes 40-60 minutes to do cardio, and cardio loads for 20-30 minutes have a general strengthening effect.

Individual Heart Rate Calculation

heart rate cardio

To achieve its goals, the cardio load must force the heart to work at a certain frequency from the maximum heart rate:

  • For weight loss – 60-70%;
  • Aerobic cardio fitness zone to increase overall endurance – 70-80%;
  • Anaerobic cardio zone to improve strength endurance – 80–90% heart rate;
  • Work to the limit to improve speed endurance – 90-100%.

The formula for calculating the max heart rate is 220 minus the number of years. For example, if you are 30 years old, then your max heart rate for cardio training should not be higher than 190 beats per minute.

Intensity of Cardio Workout for Weight Loss

To get rid of excess fat reserves and not lose muscle mass, you should adhere to the following nuances:

  • Exercise in the morning, preferably before breakfast, by eating half a banana;
  • Duration of cardio load – 30-40 minutes;
  • Heart rate – 60–70% of max;
  • The best cardio load for burning fat is interval jogging (for beginners and seniors, Nordic walking at a ragged pace is suitable).

More about it – What is a fat-burning zone? How to find it?

It will not be superfluous to take a fat burner, as recommended in its instructions, and immediately after a cardio workout for weight loss, you should drink 5 g of BCAAs.

Intensity of Cardio Workout to Maintain Body Weight


During periods of maintaining their body shape and fitness those who are engaged in bodybuilding are recommended to exercise on cardiovascular equipment:

  • Treadmills,
  • Ellipsoids,
  • Bicycle Ergometers,
  • Devices That Imitate Rowing. 

The optimal heart rate and duration of such a cardio workout is 70–80% and 40 minutes. The main thing in this period is to monitor the daily balance of consumption and calorie consumption.

Find more about maintaining body weight here.

Intensity of Cardio Loads When Gaining Muscle Mass

Regular cardio workout at the gym during the muscle-building phase is needed to improve and maintain the quality of strength training. They will help increase the number of repetitions, speed up recovery between sets, and maintain the overall endurance that will be needed on cutting.

Practical advice:

  • Separate cardio and strength training;
  • 1-2 cardio per week should be high-intensity 20 minutes, the other 2 – low-intensity, for 40-60 minutes;
  • Taking BCAAs before and after cardio will help prevent muscle loss while consuming high-carb energy bars at the same time will help maintain your weight gain trend.

Lean ectomorphs should do cardio 2-3 times, naturally muscular mesomorphs – 3, and endomorphs prone to overweight – 4 times a week.

What Is The Most Effective Cardio Workout at the Gym

cardio at home

For beginners who want to lose weight and improve their health, the most effective and safe cardio exercises are Nordic walking with poles at an irregular pace, working on a rowing machine, or a bicycle ergometer. But of course, swimming is in the first place.

Such a cardio load will help the cardiovascular and pulmonary not only to work better but also for all body systems, “harden” it and relieve the spine.

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