3 Training Sessions for a Healthy Heart

Steve Halsall

by Steve Halsall

A Celebrity Personal Trainer

Keeping the most important muscle in the body alive, healthy and strong, is something most people take for granted. I have never had a new client ask me to 'get their heart in shape'; people are generally aesthetic and performance driven in their needs.

The irony is that if it is anything that flags up and shouts 'there's trouble' in the body, it is the heart that shouts the loudest. The average heart ticks along at 100,000 beats per day, a staggering 35 million beats per year and it stands to reason it needs to be strong to keep us going day by day.

Over the last decade the number of people dying from heart attacks has halved and according to the British Medical Journal, this trend seems to be increasing year on year. This is all down to increased awareness en-mass and improved lifestyle management due to on-going campaigns to stop people smoking, improve their diets and to get active.

Principally, you need to make time to be healthy. Not allowing time to do the basic fundamental requirements to maintain a healthy body will result in a breakdown. The way I see it, time invested in caring for yourself in the earlier years of your life is the best way to prolong a fit and healthy life.

The integration of a positive routine can be aspired to by anyone. There is never a bad time to start being health conscious and making the right choices. Like any successful process, consistency, discipline and persistence is the key and if you throw in a bit of patience then you will improve and you will become stronger.

The easiest and most effective way  to ensure that you are heading in the right direction is to put aside three sessions / hours per week towards a structured, progressive cardio vascular programme. No matter who you are, as long as you understand intensity levels, then you can measure your performance and always be progressive. It is important to view cardio training as a lifetime commitment. 

Here are my three sessions for optimal cardiovascular strength:

Session 1:

One hour of steady, low-level, moderate intensity exercise. This may be a walk or a cycle or it may be a steady run. The key is not to bite off more than you can chew. Slowly progress to an hour, don't just wade in and knock it out. What tends to happen in less fit people, is the intensity at some-point will start to increase. At this point, you stop and make a note of the time and look to add on 2 minutes until you achieve an hour at a comfortable intensity.

Adler Thermae cycling in Tuscany   Jogging on the beach

Session 2:

This is exactly half the time of your session one. So, if you are up-to 30 min's in session one, this session is 15 minutes long. The trick is to increase intensity to an 8/10. This intensity is still comfortable but clearly more vigorous than session one. If you walk for example on a treadmill to do your cardio work, add a small incline and increase the speed by a few points to achieve the increased level.

Session 3:

Interval training: session three requires you to do bursts of high intensity for two minutes with a one minute rest period. The intensity of the active stage of this workout needs to be a 9/10 intensity, one that pushes you but is not unbearable. If your long Session 1 is 30 minutes, your interval session is 15 minutes long, broken down into five lots of intervals lasting 3 minutes each.

Always walk for five minutes after every session to bring the heart rate down safely and stretch thoroughly afterwards.

A healthy heart is not just about being active , it is about reducing our cholesterol  levels by eating a diet rich in nutrients and low in saturated fat. It is also about lowering blood pressure by taking time out from the stresses of life and eliminating bad habits like smoking, completely.

We only get one body and it is our responsibility to look after it. Never have we known more and never have we had so much help available to become fit, healthy and vibrant.


Steve Halsall

Steve Halsall has worked as a professional trainer for 15 years during which time he has helped 100's of people to make permanent changes. He is a Men's Health magazine celebrity trainer and The Daily Mirror's fitness expert. www.stevehalsall.com
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