Cardio. Some people love it and some people hate it, but it is something that really needs to be done. Unless you’re a hardgainer and are solely focused on building muscle, I personally believe you should be doing at least two cardio sessions a week.
At the moment, as I’m leaning out, on the five days a week I lift weights, I walk 40 minutes each way to and from work, as well as doing half an hour of higher intensity cardio. On my non-lifting days, I do 40 minutes of moderate intensity cardio. I try to vary my cardio as much as I can and, while it will never compare to how much I love weight training, it’s usually fairly enjoyable.
My Monday and Tuesday cardio sessions are not exactly traditional. I do hot power yoga every Monday, which is described as a faster paced version of Bikram. Class runs for an hour so even if it’s not as intense as sprinting, I believe the extended duration of the class provides pretty similar cardiovascular effects. On Tuesdays I do pole dancing, which I’ll admit is more of a strength workout than cardio, but I simply refuse to go to the gym three times a day at this stage of my training.
On Wednesdays I usually do 10 minutes of fast walking on the highest incline of the treadmill, followed by 10 minutes of moderately-paced jogging, and then 10 minutes on the stepper machine. As you can see, I get bored pretty quickly so I like to constantly change it up.
Thursdays are my guilty pleasure. The exact time I do my cardio is when MTV screens Jersey Shore. So I (shamefully!) watch that while I do an elliptical workout. Judge me all you want but it certainly makes my workout fly by! I usually repeat this pattern six times: 1 minute at level 8 at a moderate pace, 1 minute sprint at level 5, 1 minute moving backwards at a moderate pace, 1 minute at level 15, 1 minute at level 22 (with level 25 being maximum resistance).
I usually don’t feel like going to the gym after work on Fridays so I head to the park near my house to do 20 minutes of interval sprints. If the weather isn’t nice (which is rare!) then I will trudge along to the gym and do the same workout as either Wednesday or Thursday.
Believe it or not, I used to hate gyms. However, that was before I started lifting weights and purely associated gyms with torture devices known as treadmills and exercise bikes. I used to be a runner and had been known to run for several hours at a time without even realising how long I’d been gone, but stick me on a treadmill and I’d die of boredom five minutes later.
So Saturday and Sunday I relish the opportunity to run outside. I head out as soon as I wake up to maximise the burning of fat stores. However, I’m extremely paranoid about burning up my muscle given my body has been fasting, so my trainer has me doing a one minute walk/one minute run interval, which I alternate for 40 minutes. I honestly thought I was going to hate doing this (because it makes me look like I can’t run consistently for more than 60 seconds) but I actually find it incredibly relaxing.
Prior to ramping up my cardio six weeks ago, I was only doing sprints once a week on top of my two gym classes. I’ve noticed a huge difference in my running stride since taking a break – I feel much lighter and stronger. Minus the first few back-to-back sessions, I haven’t felt any pain in my knees – which I have always suffered from in the past.
While I am a large advocate of weight lifting, I also recognise that cardiovascular exercise is also really important. It strengthens your heart and lungs, is a great stress reliever and of course aids in losing or maintaining weight. But it can get stale very quickly, so I would strongly recommend switching between a variety of activities. Cardio exercise generally requires very little equipment, which makes it quite easy to constantly keep it interesting.
If my knees are feeling up to it, I often do this treadmill workout when I’m short on time and looking to get super sweaty. It’s not exactly like traditional interval training, but I like it because it increases in intensity until I’m flying along.
|Speed (km/hr)||Incline||Time (mins)|
|5 (warm up)||10||4|
Hopefully you can figure out my increase/decrease in speed pattern 🙂 The whole thing should take 20 minutes, and you should feel like dying during the last 2 minutes. Let me know if you try it!
How often do you do cardio? What’s your favourite type of cardio workout?