For many people who are working to achieve fitness goals, cardio workouts inspire intense love/hate relationships. Cardio workouts can be time consuming and monotonous, and after the initial weight loss you may be frustrated when you quickly hit a plateau.
Fitness experts keep saying that cardio is an integral part of a workout routine, but they are also quick to describe all of the ways that we’re doing our cardio wrong. The frequency and duration of cardio workouts, it turns out, are not as important as the intensity.
That’s right, intensity.
It might come as something of a blow to those of us that think an hour on the treadmill while watching cat videos on YouTube counts as cardio. If that statement sounds familiar, read on to learn how you can maximize your cardio workouts and achieve your fitness goals much more quickly.
Map Your Workouts
If you feel like you’re stuck in a cardio rut, don’t despair. You’re not alone. Many people feel quite comfortable in their cardio routine without realizing that they’re likely sabotaging some of their fitness goals.
Start keeping track of your cardio exercises. If you’re running, walking, or cycling, make a note of the distance traveled and the time that you spent doing it. Then decipher your miles per hour rate. Experts say that traveling three miles over the course of an hour each day is the amount of exercise needed to maintain the weight of an average woman. Surely we can do better than that.
Many people use heart rate monitors while they map workouts, as well. Keeping track of your heart rate while you exercise can provide you with important information that will help you move on to more intense workouts.
Most experts agree that intensity is the key to a successful cardio workout. The human body is uniquely capable of adapting very quickly to exercise. While you might think that your current walking or running routine is sufficient, your body says otherwise with a decline in weight loss.
Start slowly in the beginning but focus on pushing yourself each time you walk, run, or cycle. Alternate your current pace with bursts of speed and lengthen the duration of those bursts over time. For instance, if you would describe the intensity of your workout as a 4 on a scale of 1 to 10, try to reach a 5 on the intensity scale for one minute out of each ten minutes that you’re exercising. When that pace begins to feel comfortable, it’s time to move up again.
Experts also advise that you consider varying your cardio workouts. For instance, if you’re a runner you should try cycling once or twice a week to challenge your body and its metabolism.
Cardiovascular fitness is important for overall health and it can be a powerful weight loss tool as well, if done properly. Get a clear picture of your current workouts by keeping notes and using a heart rate monitor, then focus on increasing the intensity of those workouts over time. Before you know it you’ll be stronger, more fit, and much closer to meeting your weight loss goals.