Today I’m going to share with you my three top tips for having great cardio workouts. Being someone who gets bored out of my mind doing traditional cardio, as well as a trainer who deals with cardio exercise issues everyday with clients, I have a unique perspective on this.
1) Find something you enjoy! Many people find cardio cumbersome. My personal philosophy is that we won’t stick with something for the long term if we don’t enjoy it, so find something you enjoy! Don’t get too caught up in all the dogma about ‘do this’, ‘don’t do that’, ‘this is better than that’. Just get moving and have fun!With cardio, consistency is key so the majority of the time, focus on exercises that you enjoy. To keep that heart working effectively, you need to get your heart rate up substantially for a continuous amount of time at least every 48 hours.
2) Mix it up! As the old saying goes, ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ so try some things you’re not familiar with. This is good for both psychological and physiological reasons. It gives you a mental break from the same old thing. Plus, doing a different activity or the same activity in a different way will be an effective stimulus for new levels of fitness and help you avoid overuse injuries. Something I like to do is to hit three different forms of cardio in the same session. For a traditional, medium intensity, thirty-minute cardio workout, I might do 10 minutes on the treadmill, followed by 10 minutes on the elliptical, finishing with 10 minutes on a stationary rower.
3) Listen to motivating music! “Rising up, back on the street. Did my time, took my chances. Went the distance, now I’m back on my feet. Just a man and his will to survive.” Yes, the old Eye of the Tiger from the Rocky movies is my personal favorite. Make a CD, or for you technologically-savvy out there, use an I-Pod, put together a play list of your favorite workout songs. Music can make or break workouts.
Lastly, remember the last couple of ideas that I teach my clients. Assuming a well-balanced diet, the following points seem to be accurate for my clients:
-For weight management and slight decreases in body fat and increases in muscle mass, aim for at least three days of exercise per week for approximately one hour. I like to see people use the first thirty minutes for strength training and the second thirty minutes for cardio. Also aim for about a total of at least 1,000 calories expended through exercise per week for weight management, health benefits, and stress relief purposes.
-For significant fat loss, people are best served by aiming for six days of exercise per week with a total caloric expenditure of at least 2,000 calories per week. In this scenario, there is some flexibility in program design which is dependent on the forms of exercise a client prefers. If someone really enjoys cardio and doesn’t enjoy strength training, I may have them strength train 2-3 times per week, and perform cardio six days per week. The style of cardio may be staggered. Here is a typical program layout for someone with a goal of significant fat loss who is committed to working out six days per week:
Day 1) strength training (30-45 minutes) + 15 minutes of cardio interval training
Day 2) bike (45 minutes/ medium intensity)
Day 3) strength training (30-45 minutes) + 15 minutes of cardio interval training
Day 4) walk (60 minutes/ low intensity)
Day 5) strength training (30-45 minutes) + 15 minutes of cardio interval training
Day 6) elliptical machine (45 minutes/ medium intensity)
Day 7) off
To make this information work for you, ask yourself the following questions:
1) Have I been getting my heart rate up for a consistent time period, every 48 hours or so? Remember, “use it or lose it”. The heart muscle actually weakens when we are inactive for more than a couple days. Maybe the image of a slowly atrophying heart will get you moving.
2) Have I been performing effective cardio workouts or have I just been going through the motions? If my workouts have not been up to snuff, what can I do TODAY to make sure my next workout is more effective?
3) Have I worked out in the last couple days? Will I be working out in the next couple days?
Hint: If the answer is no, stop reading this right now, and go do something! Do some pushups, jumping jacks, bodyweight squats, yoga, I don’t care! Just do something!
Doug Jackson, M.Ed.,CSCS has a track record of results in the fitness industry. The Author of Fitness Now and Forever [http://www.FitnessNowandForever.com] and co-author of Family Fit Plan http://www.FamilyFitPlan.com he has a real-world experience and research background which leads the personal training field. He operates his personal training business, Personal Fitness Advantage http://www.PersonalFitnessAdvantage.com in Sunrise, Florida and serves exceptional clients in Broward and Dade counties.
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