Making Cardio Fun and Exciting

August 17, 2011 |  by  |  Ask the Experts, Follow the Lita

Cardio, fun, exciting?

…just when you thought it was impossible? Think again…

Cardiovascular exercise can often be the dumps, I mean let’s face it, there’s not many people I know that actually adore their cardio workouts. As essential as good ol’ Mr. Cardio is for lean bodybuilding and weight management we need to find ways to keep us stimulated and achieve maximum results while sweating rivers.

Why we need cardio in our lives: the obvious being fat burn, cardiovascular exercise also offers many benefits to our overall health. It helps us improve glucose metabolism, lowers heart rate, blood pressure and cholesterol.

We simply can’t cut cardio out of our regular regime if we’re trying to achieve our goals so let’s investigate some solutions and tips to keep cardio as fun and exciting as humanly possible.

1. Choose A Cardio Activity You Actually Enjoy – easy enough!

Hmm, can’t be too difficult right?! While this may seem obvious many people gravitate to activities they simply can’t stand however choosing an activity/machine that you feel you can manage and enjoy means you’ll attack it with more confidence and for longer periods of time. You want to challenge yourself, not select something you find piss easy so perhaps you choose to do a power walk in the park but decide to take the steep-hill route! Think fun but think challenge! Other cardio activities include treadmill, stair master, elliptical, aerobics, lap swimming and recumbent bike.

2. Good Music in Ya Ear

Yes, you heard right, the very essential workout motivator – your ipod! Personally I find it difficult to work out to my maximum potential when I haven’t got the likes of Kings of Leon, 50cent, Paramore or Kanye in my ear! It’s amazing how music can help push your mental and in return push your body. It’s as if music increases your tolerance for pain, helping you push your way to the end with conviction. So press play and let those calories burn.

3. Work Out with a Friend

For some working out solo dolo is preferred, I can certainly agree but if you’re just starting out or looking for ways to keep your cardio casual and social consider working out with a mate. On many levels getting your cardio in with a friend can be motivating, each pushing each other to continue longer, faster, steeper, consider it a challenge or race if you will, but keep it friendly! Time usually flies by while chatting up a storm while getting a good cardio in. Next time you pout at having to do cardio, call a friend, you might as well encourage somebody else while you’re at it.

4. Interval Training

I’m a big fan of in-ter-val training, I apply this to my cardio regime 3 times a week. When I’m not trying to spend 40minutes at cardio I’ll reduce my time to 10-15minutes but I’ll intensify it. By this I mean alternating my speed over various distances and including incline. I usually begin with a relatively fast jog for 4mins, pick up speed in a 85% fast sprint for 10seconds then back to my original jog. I repeat this sequence 3-4 times and will also include an uphill incline power walk. Trust me, by the end of 15minutes I feel as though I’ve completed a 10 day heptathlon! Crank it up with interval training and feel the difference.

5. Perform Cardio on an Empty Stomach or Right After the Workout

Glycogen levels (stored carbohydrates) are lower at these times, and thus, it is easier for the body to access fat stores. If not possible, then perform the activity 2-1/2 hours after a meal so that your blood glucose levels are not so high that all you burn during the activity is carbs. Note: even if carbs is all you burned, those are calories that would not have been burned otherwise so you are still benefiting.

6. Don’t exceed 45 minutes of Cardio, But No Less Than 20 Minutes

More is not better when it comes to cardio. Most of you will benefit from 3 sessions of 20-30 minutes. Never go above 45 minutes at a time when doing cardio as after 45 minutes the catabolic hormone cortisol will increase and you will risk losing muscle tissue and protecting fat! Only competitive bodybuilders may find themselves doing as much as 45 minutes twice a day before a show but that amount is kept for very short periods of time.

7. Change It Up! New Exercise, New Time!

Don’t stick to the same exercise or the same duration of time. Our bodies want change, they thrive off of it and will seek great benefits when you alternate body movements and activities. What you do one week should be different the week, or for a less vigorous change, alternate activities on a monthly basis. Apply a varied time and level, try a 15-20minute cardio workout at a very challenging pace and intensity (consider Interval training) and on other days aim for 45minutes at a moderate level of intensity.

8. If Using Any Fat Burning Supplements With Caffeine, Take Them 30 Minutes Prior

If you take any fat burning supplements with caffeine, take them 30 minutes prior to your cardiovascular exercise as they may increase your work capacity, possibly your rate of fat burning, and your pain tolerance. Caffeine has been shown to improve all these items in several studies. I am yet to self experiment but have heard from my gym-junkie friends that performance and pain threshold levels increase when caffeine is taken 30minutes pre-workout. This results in a more stimulated and successful workout. So save your caffeine intake before you hit your cardiovascular workout.

Photo Credits:
Tomasz Dunn
Timothy J
David Haberthur
Andrew Malone
Mike Baird
Jason Dean

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Follow the Lita

Fitness has become a imperative part of my life, enjoying good health and maintaining a physique decent enough to show off in the mirror without cringing is important - so listen, I’ll be posting all sorts of health, fitness, dietary advice plus more as it relates to my personal experience and journey to optimum health. Other topics of love, life and what makes us happy will be sprinkled lightly like powdered sugar. Sugar? I didn’t say that, bad start.

1 Comment

  1. Lisa Branch Finklea via Facebook

    Dance classes, zumba. That’s what makes it fun for me!

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