I hate cardio. I really do. I should clarify though – I hate steady-state cardio. If you tell me to go and run for 20 minutes, I’m not going to be very enthused. However, if you tell me to go outside and get in a 20 minute cardio workout, I’m going to be much more motivated to exercise. Here are 5 strategies that I implement for more effective cardio workouts. These tips make cardio much less boring and monotonous, and a lot more fun.
You probably already know by now the benefits of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) cardio. Studies have shown over and over again how they are more effective at fat loss than steady-state cardio, even when it burns fewer calories. If you’re going to go for a 20 minute run, why not try running fast for a minute followed by a slow jog or walk for 1 minute. Repeat that for 20 minutes, making sure you push yourself during the fast intervals, and you might even find that your mile pace is faster with the intervals – I know mine is.
Alter the Gradient
Another way to have more effective cardio workouts is to change the gradient of your running surface. The easiest way to do this is to find some hills. The simple fact that you have to run up an incline turns hill-running into a form of interval training. You can either find a hilly running route, or you could find a single hill and sprint up it and then walk back down and repeat for your desired workout length.
Plyometrics are not for beginners, but there are varying degrees of difficulty and impact that makes it possible for just about anyone to incorporate them into their cardio workouts. Try going to a track and run for 1 minute followed by 20-30 seconds of high-knees. Repeat this over and over again for the duration of your workout. You don’t have to do high-knees each time either. You can mix up the plyometric portion of your cardio workout by doing butt-kicks, skips, bounds, or other plyometric exercises. You can also vary the speed of the running portion of your workout.
Adding resistance to your cardio workout is not always easy to do. You also have to be careful because of the added impact on your joints. However, with a little extra workout equipment or possibly a workout partner, adding resistance can be quite a bit of fun. For example, you could use a running parachute. These are vests that have a small parachute attached to a cord in the back. Once you start sprinting, the parachute opens and adds resistance. It’s kind of like running against the wind – times 10.
There are also bungee cord devices that you can use with a workout partner. Each of you wears a belt or vest with a bungee cord connecting the two of you together. One person stands still as an anchor while the other takes off for a sprint. The person sprinting eventually reaches a point where the resistance is too strong to keep them from moving forward any further. Once that happens, the person in the back takes off for a sprint. With the pull of the bungee cord, you end up running very fast. It teaches you to keep your knees up and use proper form. Be careful though, you could end up falling if you don’t get those legs moving!
One more way to add resistance is to run in water. Focus on good form and drive your knees and arms through their full range of motion. Doing so adds resistance to every part of your running form. Eventually, when you get back out on the track, the lack of resistance makes things much easier.
Change the Terrain
Finally, you could have a more effective cardio workout by changing up the terrain. Running in the sand at the beach adds a change of scenery and some added resistance. You could even do some off-road running? Think of it as hiking with a little hop to your step. Or maybe a nice nature hike already pushes you to your limits. You could also run flights of stairs, or you could go to a stadium and run bleachers. These force you to stay focused on your footing – making it nearly impossible for you to get bored. Any change of terrain that’s different than a solid running surface will add an extra challenging element to your workout.MUST READ: The Definitive Guide for How to Lose Weight
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