Weight lifting is the core of all exercise. Whether you’re doing body weight push ups, weighted bench presses, or just calve extensions, they play an essential part in both heart rate as well as muscle gain. However, when looking to burn fat effectively, coupling them with great cardio workout days really make the results pop sooner than expected. Today, I wanted to share some ways to improve your cardio workouts that I’ve found particularly effective.
Go for an extra ten minutes
When you first step on the machine or hit the pavement, your body immediately tells you to get back in the house if you haven’t done cardio in a while. From my experience, this seems to mostly come from increasing the level of physical exertion from what your body is used to. This isn’t a bad sign however as when you are able to will your legs to keep going for the first 10 or so minutes, eventually you hit a point where it feels amazing. Some call this “hitting the runner’s high” and I can understand why.
You feel great for the next 30 or so minutes and your legs are hardly registering any stress until you you realize your workout is just about over. The last ten minutes of the workout feel excruciating as you struggle to keep up your pace and think about giving up early. But you don’t and keep going instead. Now, instead of doing a cool down period as soon as that clock hits 60 minutes, why not try another ten minutes today? Sure your body is pretty ragged at this point but our physique’s are uniquely designed to adapt to situations such as this. After you finish your first 70 minute run, try doing it the day after next for a couple of weeks. In no time, hitting that 60 minutes will be a breeze and now the 70 minute mark will be your new “horrible time”. Then add another 10 minutes, until you feel like you’re getting the most out of your workout. Remember to increase hydration as well as the extra stress on your body will dry you up quickly.
This will lead to improved breath control, more cardio work (since you’re sweating for an additional 10 minute intervals), and better conditioning. Conditioning helps all parts of working out as your willpower and endurance will help with weight lifting and terrible crunches. And to think, it just takes an extra ten minutes a day!
Don’t let it be too easy
If you’ve ever strength trained for a period of time, you’ve probably heard a personal trainer say “Did you just do 15? Okay, that’s too light, let’s increase the weight again.” Your first response is frustration since you feel like you could barely get those in but in reality, your body craves to be pushed and, again, adapts to the changes given to it. The same applies for cardio, especially when on a machine with variable speeds and inclines.
Let’s look at the typical exercise bike. While this machine is very easy to use, each one typically offers different degrees of resistance on the pedals to help improve muscle tone and cardio exertion. If you’ve ever gotten off the machine after an hour, barely coated in sweat, not feeling sore, and wake up the next morning with no new definition to show, “It’s too easy, let’s increase the resistance again.” Ideally, during your cardio sessions, you should struggle to match a certain speed. If your legs are racing like crazy and you get off feeling refreshed with no sweat, you probably didn’t burn nearly as much fat as you think you did. This is because, your heart never raced or struggled so your body didn’t have to compensate. You want your body to get swept up in the activity and leave the gym soaked after cardio. That’s right, you should always bring a towel to the gym in preparation of working out until you need a towel. Sweating after a cardio workout proves that your heart hit a good pace and if after that point you maintained the same work on it, you more than likely got a good hour of high intensity cardio.
So next time you’re at the gym, increase that incline, adjust the resistance, and get sweaty.
Changing it up
This is my personal favorite, especially on the elliptical. Regardless of your workout of choice, changing up the pacing of a cardio exercise will always show good results. To improve your cardio workout easily, try doing sprint intervals. What this means is if you’re on the treadmill, run at a regular pace for a while then increase the speed to where you’re sprinting for 30 seconds to a minute, then adjust it back down if you can. This is done a bit better on a bicycle or elliptical as you can change your pace and “Go all out” which then makes you burn more calories because of the irregularity of it. These intervals make you heave and ho and eventually increase endurance, speed,and from some reports, reduce belly fat.
Cardio workouts are essential and I hope these tips can help you improve your cardio workouts as much as they’ve helped my own. Until next time, think healthy, be healthy!