Whilst in one form or another, each and everyone of us knows that we need to do cardio – the bare thought of sweat racing down our foreheads whilst blankly staring at a television show doesn’t necessarily appeal as something worthwhile. And so, today’s educational post will focus on our top seven tips to improving and better using your time whilst undertaking cardio workouts.
1. Pick A Cardio Exercise You Enjoy – I can’t swear by this point enough – it’s strikingly obvious how quickly us humans lose interest in activities we have no interest whatsoever in. And so, the key to maximising the efficiency and effectiveness of your cardio workouts is choosing something you actually enjoy doing. If swimming is your thing, do it a few times a week at increasing intensity, if interval sprinting is an option perform that exercise. Exercising in this fashion helps irradicate the feeling of cardio being a ‘chore’, helps you stay focused and consistent.
2. Run on Sand – Similar to the point above, in that running on sand as opposed to doing hill climbs or running on plain old concrete may be your thing. As long as the weather permits of course, running on sand at the beach can add that small incentive of a beautiful view which may maintain your interest. Shoes are essential to avoiding glass and injury, however running on sand is a welcome relief to both joints and arches.
3. Switch It Up – This is an important point for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s important for the reasons I’ve mentioned above in that it keeps you interested by ding something different; but, also to keep your body guessing – the last thing you want is to stunt your progress as your body has become accustomed to the exact same workout you’re performing week-in-week-out. Switch up the machines and exercises you perform, you’ll definitely burn more calories!
4. Between Sets – Personally, when I’m in the gym, I’m not the most avid fan of cardio – in fact, I tend to avoid it at all costs possible, and focus purely on strength and muscle mass gaining. Lately, however, I’ve begun to adapt the ‘between sets’ approach; which has definitely improved the intensity of my workout. This definitely goes for those weightlifters that like to perform a set, walk off and speak to someone for five minutes before returning to complete another set – I know there’s plenty of you! Basically, instead of taking a rather laissez break, spend that time performing a cardiovascular exercise – sprinting or skipping for instance. It’s physically demanding, but, you’re at the gym to make progress – may as well up the intensity and accelerate your gains!
5. Early Morning/After Weight Training – If I were asked when was the best time maximise the effectiveness of a workout I’d recommend either early morning or immediately following a weight training session. Early morning and after a weight session, you are at a depleted stage, you’ve yet to consume anything (or what you have consumed has been utilised), and so your body must revert to it’s secondary source of energy – your fat stores. Whilst this is a tough workout to push through it is incredibly beneficial in directly targeting your fat stores and accelerating progress. Eat an hour after your cardio session, so that your body can further attack and burn your fat stores whilst your heart rate is still high.
6. High Intensity – If you’re tight for time, kick into gear immediately with high intensity training. The reality is, a 20 minute high intensity session is going to be more beneficial than an hour long walk – why spend more time for half the results? Following a 2-3 minute warm-up, perform cardiovascular exercises to 80% of your maximum heart rate for 15-20 minutes before slowing that down to 60% over the last ten or so minutes. In doing so you burn significantly more fat, and spend half the time you would otherwise waste. Whilst many of us cannot sustain high intensity levels over prolonged periods of time, interval training is an excellent method to improve your aerobic fitness. Interval training involves alternating between high intensity periods and lower intensity sessions whilst you recover.
7. Workout Buddy – If finding motivation is your problem – have someone come along with you to the gym and encourage each other. Being accountable to a friend or partner helps reduce the likelihood of missed workouts and makes the entire workout experience a lot more enjoyable. Compete against one another, share recipes and exercises, and most importantly – enjoy your cardio workout!