NASM CPT 7th Edition Chapter 15: Cardiorespiratory Training Concepts
NASM CPT 7th Edition Chapter 15: Cardiorespiratory Training Concepts 1

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Chapter Goals:

  • Give summaries for the importance of cardiorespiratory fitness training for the various client types with changing goals for fitness and health.
  • Make an outline for the general guidelines of cardiorespiratory training.
  • Be able to discuss stage training and its use for improving cardiorespiratory endurance.
  • Find the considerations for cardiorespiratory training for clients who have postural conditions.

Introduction to Cardiorespiratory Fitness Training

Cardio training shows the abilities of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems to give the muscles oxygen rich blood during sustained physical activity.

This is one of the five main components of health-related physical fitness.

One reason this training style is very important is that it works on abilities to engage in normal activities of daily living.

Training cardio is a great way to plan programs systematically and get clients through the stages for achieving optimal adaptations by putting stress on the cardiorespiratory system.

Sometimes we see errors made in considering the rate of progression of clients. This is the process and speed from which frequency, intensity, time, and type increase.

General Guidelines for Cardiorespiratory Fitness Training

It should always be understood that no two people have the same response and adaptations to exercise. So, the responses to exercise are variable even when we consider people of similar ages, fitness levels, and health status.

Frequency

This refers to the number of training sessions in a certain set time period. Usually, this is just a week. 

The recommendations for frequency are generally 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobics done 5 days per week at a minimum.

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If 75 minutes per week is recommended, it should be done at least 3 days per week and is for vigorous intensity work.

You can also combine these and go for some middle ground regarding time and intensity.

Intensity

This is the level of demand that a certain activity puts on the body. 

Moderate intensity is where we consider it to be working hard and increasing heart and respiration rates, but it does not cause exhaustion or breathlessness.

MET is one popular way of looking at this intensity rating for activity. One MET is the equivalent of 3.5 mL of oxygen per kg of body weight per minute. It is also equal to the average resting metabolic rate for adults.

Ratings of perceived exertion are useful in scenarios looking at intensity since it is a rating of how hard someone thinks they are working at the time. More often than not, when using the 6 – 20 borg scale, we see it is somewhat equivalent to heart rates multiplied by 10.

The talk test is another thing utilized, and this one is pretty much perfectly suited as an informal easy to use method to get an idea of how hard your client is working.

When speaking is easy to do during activity, this is generally considered to be under the ventilatory threshold 1.

Time

This has to do with the length of time that someone engages in an activity or exercise training session, and it is generally in the number of minutes.

Adults should ideally work to get 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate activity each week or an hour and 15 minutes of vigorous activity.

Type

This looks at the mode of activity chosen. Some examples of choices for the type of exercise are things like jogging, walking, using gym equipment for cardio, swimming, and cycling.

Both interval training and high intensity interval training are growing in popularity due to their effectiveness and ease of use in group training.

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Enjoyment

This refers to the amount of pleasure that comes from engaging in specific exercises or activities.

This is often overlooked, but it is quite important to consider for the longevity of the client.

Volume

This is the total amount of work in each timeframe; generally, this is a week of time.

Progression

This looks at how the program is advancing and changing. Generally, the intensity and/or volume should continually increase and challenge the individual.

Components of Cardiorespiratory Fitness Training

The three components of this training style are the warm-up, conditioning, and cool-down phases.

Cardiorespiratory Warm-Up Phase

This is generally described as prepping the body for activity. 

We can have warm ups that are very general or warm ups that are more specific to the movements that will be done in the actual workout.

General warm ups are like standard cardio, and specific warm ups aim to do some movements and exercises that will be worked similarly to the conditioning portion of the workout.

Stretching can also be beneficial to have in the warmup in some forms.

Conditioning Phase

People who engage in cardio likely do it for reasons like losing weight, reducing their stress, general improvements in health, or other reasons.

Benefits of cardio and conditioning exercise:

  • Stronger and more efficient heart
  • Improved ability to pump blood
  • Reduced risk of heart disease
  • Lower resting heart rate
  • Lower heart rate at any given level of work
  • Improvement of lung ventilation
  • Stronger respiratory muscles
  • Thicker cartilage and bones with weight-bearing aerobic exercises
  • Improved oxygen transport
  • Increase in lean body mass
  • Increase in metabolic rate
  • Reduced cholesterol levels
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Improved blood thinning and reduced risk of clot formation
  • Improved fuel supply
  • Improved ability of muscles to use oxygen
  • Improved mental alertness
  • Reduced tendency for depression and anxiety
  • Improved ability to relax and sleep
  • Improved tolerance to stress
  • Reduced risk of obesity or diabetes mellitus

Cool-down Phase

This is like the warmup but in reverse. So, the goal here is to get the body closer to rest. And this can oftentimes include some stretching to help those active muscles relax.

Cooldowns usually last as long as warm ups, so around 5 – 10 minutes.

The benefits of cooling down are:

  • Reduce heart and breathing rates
  • Gradually cool body temperature
  • Return muscles to their optimal resting lengths
  • Prevent the pooling of blood in the lower extremities
  • Restore physiologic systems close to baseline

Introduction to Stage Training

Cardiorespiratory falls under the principle of specificity, just like other training styles. So, we should ensure that the program follows the wants and needs of the client specifically. 

Stage Training

The purpose here is to ensure that programs go through organized ways to ensure continual adaptations occur and lower the risk of injury or overtraining.

We have five stages of training.

Stage 1 example:

  • Warm up for 5 – 10 minutes.
  • 30 minute workout in zone 1.
  • Cool down for 5 – 10 minutes.

Stage 2 example:

  • Start by warming up for 5–10 minutes.
  • Move into a 1-minute interval in zone 2 which is just above VT1.
  • After the 1-minute interval, return to zone 1 for 3 minutes.
  • Repeat these intervals until the duration of the exercise session is complete.
  • Cool down for 5–10 minutes.

Stage 3 example:

  • Warm up in zone 1 for up to 5–10 minutes.
  • Then, increase the workload every 60 seconds until reaching zone 3. This will require a climb through zone 2, which may take a few minutes.
  • After pushing for another minute in zone 3, decrease the workload back to zone 2.
  • Overload the body again by performing another zone 3 interval.
  • Repeat for the desired number of intervals.
  • Cool down for 5–10 minutes.

Stage 4 example:

  • Warm up in zone 1 for up to 5–10 minutes.
  • Then, increase the workload every 60 seconds until reaching zone 4. This will require a climb through zones 2 and 3, which may take a few minutes.
  • Push for 10 seconds in zone 4 and then decrease the workload back to zone 1. This 1-minute break is an important minute to help gauge training status and improvement.
  • If the client cannot drop to the appropriate heart rate during the 1-minute break, assume that they are tired and about to overtrain. The solution is to stay in zone 1 for the remainder of the workout. 
  • If the client’s heart rate drops to normal, then overload the body again by performing another zone 4 interval.
  • After this minute, return to zone 1 for 5–10 minutes and repeat if desired.

Stage 5 example:

  • This is for athletes and is used for all athletic training. It focuses on the drills that improve linear, multidirectional and sport specific activities done during conditioning.

Postural Considerations in Cardiorespiratory Training

When prescribing this form of training, it is very important to assess the client’s posture during movement continuously. 

If the client has poor posture while standing or doing some motions, the trainer is responsible for correcting the alignment to minimize their risk of injury and maximize their performance level.

When going through cardiorespiratory training, we should look out for some specific problems:

  • Forward head and rounded shoulders
  • Anterior pelvic tilt
  • Adducted and internally rotated knees and pronated feet.
NASM CPT 7th Edition Chapter 15: Cardiorespiratory Training Concepts 2
NASM CPT 7th Edition Chapter 15: Cardiorespiratory Training Concepts 3
NASM CPT 7th Edition Chapter 15: Cardiorespiratory Training Concepts 4

Tyler Read

Tyler Read, BSc, CPT. Tyler holds a B.S. in Kinesiology from Sonoma State University and is a certified personal trainer (CPT) with NASM (National Academy of sports medicine), and has over 15 years of experience working as a personal trainer. He is a published author of running start, and a frequent contributing author on Healthline and Eat this, not that.

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