We all love our cardio, right? Hang on… what was that? Did I happen to hear a collective sigh? Yes, cardio is usually the most hated portion of a work out. Especially if you haven’t yet found your cardio niche. Or, perhaps you have found your cardio niche… but now you’ve reached a plateau and don’t seem to be breaking through to the next level of fitness that you’re striving for. Don’t despair. There are many ways to break through those barriers, both born of boredom or lack of challenge, in order to maximize your cardio time.
Find Your Forte
That’s right. Take the time to try many different forms of cardio. Find the type of cardio that you absolutely love. It needs to excite you, to have you jumping out of bed, saying “Yes!” in the morning. Try anything and everything. Some of the best forms of cardio include the usual suspects, like running, bicycling, elliptical trainers, swimming, aerobics, rowing, and walking. Some lesser known, but still very effective, forms of cardio include skiing, dancing, rock climbing, martial arts, and team sports. Try everything. Pick your power! If you enjoy what you do, you’re going to be motivated to continue. And not just continue… you’ll be motivated to keep moving forward, to keep challenging yourself and achieving more goals. That will help prevent the plateau effect!
Find the Time
Make your cardio work out effortless, just a normal part of your day. Is there a time in which you’re most likely to work your hardest? For some people, it means first thing in the morning. They’re up, they’re focused, and they’re not being distracted by other things. Other people prefer the afternoon because they’re more energetic at that time. Again, whatever your preference may be, you need to take the time to find out. Try doing your cardio at different times. See what works best. Then make that time your cardio hour (or half hour, or 45 minutes). It takes decision making out of the equation. “Oh look, it’s 5:30pm. Time for a run.” To be honest, it doesn’t matter when you do your cardio, as long as it works for you, and as long as you’re actually doing it!
Find Your Challenge
Whether you vary the speed, the distance, the intensity, the type of movement, or the type of cardio entirely, you need to challenge your body. Don’t keep cycling 10 miles in 45 minutes if you always cycle 10 miles in 45 minutes. Try for 12 miles in 45 minutes, or 10 miles in 30 minutes. Also vary the intensity of what you’re doing within the work out.
Work out in intense bursts, and then pull back a little for a break. There is any number of combinations suggested by researchers. For example, you could cycle as fast as possible for 8 seconds, followed by a 12 second lighter intensity “rest period”. Other researchers talk about intense bursts of activity with lighter “rest periods” in terms of minutes. It’s all up to your endurance level and your ability to pay attention during your cardio!
Don’t Be Slack!
If you’re working out for an hour, but average around 60% effort, then you’re wasting that extra time. You would be better off working out for 45 minutes at 80% effort. You will save yourself 15 minutes, and your body will adapt, and therefore become fitter and stronger, at a faster rate due to the higher level of effort.
Cardio should form a part of every fitness fan’s routine, and with a little research and discovery about yourself, you can ensure that you’re making the most of the time you spend pounding those machines or pavements!
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