When it comes to exercising, most people think about cardio first, this type of regular workout will always get your heart pumping. At the end of the day, it’s also an essential form of exercise for anyone who is trying to trim down on excess body fat and ultimately, for anyone who is looking to increase their energy levels in general.
However, just like strength training, getting the most out of your cardio activities often comes down to consistency. Not necessarily repetition, with the same cardio exercise over and over, but in the sense of fitting some type of cardio into your daily schedule (even if it’s a recovery day with a long, brisk walk). This is how you will improve your cardiovascular endurance overall. But how can you truly optimise all of your cardio workouts?
1. Find The Cardio Activities You Enjoy
If your cardio routine involves something you don’t enjoy doing, then stop immediately and switch to the kind of cardio you do like. Sometimes engaging with a personal trainer who can assist you in finding the best alternatives for your fitness goals, can make a big difference too. Many people discover that they may not enjoy cycling or swimming but really do enjoy jogging and rowing, for example. Ultimately, when you enjoy your cardio workouts, it’s far easier to benefit from them!
2. Get Strategic & Start Planning
Optimising your cardio results does require having a strategy in place. Planning when to intensify your workouts and when to take it easy on an active recovery day is crucial. Work with yourself, not against! Don’t schedule rigorous morning workouts if you’re not a morning person, for example. Also, try to keep track of your workouts - you can use a notebook but most people find fitness trackers and wearables take all the fuss out of this. Ultimately, being able to quickly revisit success and BMI stats creates the drive to keep going, as well as to keep challenging yourself.
3. Variety is the Spice of Cardio
Boredom has killed more cardio goals and plans than any other roadblock to better health and fitness. Change your routine around so that you don’t fall into the trap of doing the same things every day. Explore different activities and even vary the equipment that you use. Another great tip, If you exercise outside, is to bring the exercise in on occasion - and if you exercise inside, take it outside sometimes.
4. It’s Important to Know Your Cardio Machines
This is a very important point, are you using the right cardio activity for your fitness goals? Not completely sure if you’re gaining the right benefits from the machines you use? Here are some of the most popular pieces of equipment available that are guaranteed to get your heart-rate up and their benefits:
● Rreadmill - This is a relatively easy piece of exercise equipment to use. Many even find that the treadmill has a more predictable surface that is much easier to negotiate than sidewalks, curbs or trails. Once you’re comfortable with the machine, the risk of tripping is far reduced when compared to an outside run. Daily sessions on the treadmill (whether walking or running) can also reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and even joint-related ailments. Not to mention that it’s a great machine for building your muscle and cardiovascular stamina.
● Rower - The motion you use in a rowing exercise is not always intuitive, but it's actually very simple once you get used to it. One of the best ways to use this machine is getting down the actual art of the row i.e. legs, core, arms (on the way out) and arms, core, legs (on the way in). Rowers experience a number of great benefits, such as building endurance and strength, as well as improved heart and lung health. It’s also more of a full-body workout than a treadmill offers.
● Elliptical - Stepping machines are incredibly versatile as you can change both the resistance and the incline of the foot pedals. By doing this, you can target different muscles in your lower body – these include muscles like your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. For example, by increasing the incline, you may also start to feel the back of your lower body burning and decreasing it, you may feel your quads starting to work harder. Furthermore, since the foot pedals go in reverse, you can change the direction of your stride and target your hamstrings and glutes too.
● Stationary Bike - These are becoming increasingly popular, largely due to the fact that they are easy-to-use and compact for easy storage. Plus, you can use them whenever, wherever, no matter what the elements happen to be doing outside. Many models feature customisable fitness programs, built-in heart rate monitors and even cooling fans. Cycling is also wonderful for toning your legs, thighs and buttocks but also your arms, abdominal and back muscles get a great workout too.
5. Invest in The Correct Cardio Training Accessories
Often, cardio workouts can be greatly assisted by the correct accessories. For example, if you prefer running as your main form of cardio, ensure that you get the correct type of running shoes for your environment (road vs trails). Should you wish to up the intensity of your workouts, it can also help to introduce elements such as resistance bands and even weights into your training too.
And ultimately, just remember to go hard! Compared to the rest of your day, this workout is only a short time, so give it your all to truly benefit and see results.