Making cardio workouts part of your exercise regimen is a surefire way to improve fitness and health. But you don’t have to spend hours on the treadmill or trail to achieve results. Instead, use these tips for effective cardio workouts that burn calories and fat.
1. Increase the Incline
Instead of running on a flat road or treadmill, head for the hills or bump up the incline. Running uphill will send the heart rate through the roof and increase the calorie burn. Some added benefits include improved leg strength, running form and spring speed.
2. Hands Free
When using a piece of cardio equipment don’t hold onto the handrail. Just let go and pump the arms forward and back, not across the body (which will reduce the effectiveness of a workout).
3. The Great Outdoors
If possible, take to the outdoors to add variety and new challenges to a boring running routine. Mountain biking and trail running on uneven surfaces improves athleticism and balance while working smaller, but equally important, stabilizer muscles.
4. Stop and Go
Use interval training to increase workout intensity and maximize results. Alternate periods of all-out effort with periods of low effort or rest. Try sprinting 100 meters and then walking or jogging back to the start line before repeating the sprint. Eight to 10 sprints is all it will take to get a great workout.
5. Swing It
Try kettlebell training for a workout that provides both cardio and strength benefits. Use the two-hand kettlebell swing to improve lung efficiency and maximum heart rate in a fraction of the time of traditional training methods.
6. More Work, Less Rest
Select six to eight body weight exercises, resistance training and cardio-based movements to use as part of an up-tempo circuit-based workout. Perform the first exercise, and then move onto the next without working. Repeat for each exercise before resting for one to two minutes at the end of the circuit.
7. Keep Pace
Use a smart phone app (like FitDay), heart rate monitor or GPS to record distance, pace and calories burned. Tracking all of these variables helps increase motivation and promote progress to avoid a performance plateau.
8. Turn it Up
The music that is. Listening to music during a workout improves performance by increasing motivation and reducing fatigue. Pick something up-beat and fast-paced to keep energy levels high throughout the workout.
9. The Buddy System
Workout with a training partner or group of friends to make the entire gym experience more enjoyable. Being accountable to another person will also serve as motivation and prevent missed workouts.
10. Be Consistent
The best way to get results from a cardio workout is to create a routine and stick to it. Whether it’s first thing in the morning, at lunch or after work, the body will adapt to training any time during the day. Be consistent and exercise on a consistent basis and your fitness goals are within reach.