Personally, I am not a huge fan of cardio machine. This is not because I think that cardio is without benefits, but because so often heard the miss-concept about being lean, that the only way to get you lean / slim is by doing endless cardio and there is absolutely no point doing weight training when you weigh so much until you trim it down.
Still, after doing endless cardio, some people are still not losing weight and got stressed out and say good bye to the gym and back to the ‘junk’ lifecycle that they used to have. If you are not sure whether your cardio routine is up to scratch, then it’s probably not. And if you can’t understand why the weight simply won’t shift despite all the time and effort you put in, then it’s safe bet that you are stuck in a faulty cardio routine.
In which case it’s most definitely time to change your approach. Here’s how you can do it!
1. Cut Out Endurance Cardio
Unless you are a marathon runner in the making, there’s no call in your life for long bouts of low-intesity cardio. Many fitness experts will still tel you that low-intensity cardio is the best way to stay in the fat-burning zone, but I’m far more interested in the hormonal effects of that slow steady session.
And the truth there is that although you may burn fat during the 40 or 60 or even 120 minutes you ‘walk’ for, your metabolism hasn’t been affected in any lasting way. Furthermore, your body adapts after about six weeks and then starts to store extra body fat as a means of being prepared for the predicted upcoming sessions.
2. Introduce (TRUE) Interval Training
If you are an avid exerciser you’ll be familiar with interval training (i.e., alternating periods of high-intensity with periods of recovery). It’s great idea in theory becayse interval training allows you to work MUCH HARDER in a SHORTER period of time, burning off TWICE (or more) as much energy as you would with endless cardio, and possibly even elevating your metabolism beyong the workout.
The problem, however, is that most people don’t know how to push themselves to the point where benefits will occur. Ideally the interval training should last no longer than 20 minutes, and the high-intensity part should be so extreme that you feel like you’re going to collapse as you watch the last few seconds count down. Your recovery should then be true recovery – either a complete standstill or very slow and relaxed. If you are able to keep up a ‘decent’ pace then you definitely didn’t work hard enough earlier on. Finally, it’s important to make sure you vary your approach; if you usually alternate minute-tominute, then try rotating every 30 seconds instead. Or maybe go 45 seconds hard, 30 seconds recovery. Variety is critical if you want to achieve lasting results.
3. Try Some Sprints
Have you ever compared the body of a sprinter to a marathon runner? We typically think of sprints as being running-based, but you can definitely use the bike or cross-trainer for sprints. While interval training can allow for increases in speed or resistance (or both), sprint training is purely speed-based; and it is typically performed either over a set distance or for a given period of time, before being followed by a complete rest. The rest period should be around twice as long as the work period, in order to allow you to continually perform at your best.
You may prefer to use the indoor bike or run outdoors as it is hard to measure your time and distance on a treadmill. Aim to include sprint training at least once a fortnight, for variety and truly revolutionary burn.
4. Add in a Few Hills
Hills are a great way to build lean muscle on your glutes and legs, and to increase your overall metabolism. Most cardio doesn’t have a lasting effect on your metabolic rate (unlinke weight training) , but hills are great exception to this rule. And definitely excellent way to shake off some cardio cobwebs! Either set the treadmill to a decent incline, or find a handy hill in your local area.
You can start with a brisk walking to begin with, but try to include some light running as well. Unless you really want to punish yourself, use an interval or sprint-based approach to hill training as opposed to just running uphill for 20 minutes straight. Mind you, that’d be a workout your body wouldn’t let you forget in a hurry.
5. Make Cardio the Supplement to ‘REAL’ training
It’s one thing to smarten up your cardio routine, but have you ever thought about whether you should be including the stuff at all? If you are a very busy or stressed person, the ncardio does little more than activate a deep-set stress hormone reaction, one result of which is increased fat storage; and this is actually pretty counter-productive.
‘Real’ training is training replicating movements that our bodies were designed to do, such as bending, squatting, twisting, lunging, pushing, pulling.
6. Pay Attention and Make Your Workout Count
How common it is to see people ‘workout’ on cardio machines with their head in the clouds and their body barely following commands? If you are investing precious time into hitting the gym you’re actually paying attention and pushing yourself to the point where you know you’re alive.
And sure, occasionally it might be okay to just go through the motions, but if that’s the norm then things need to change. It’s a pretty safe bet that if you’re watching TV or reading a book while on the cardio machines, then you’re not working as hard as you could be. Ditto for carrying on a conversation. Make the choice, train hard for results or go home and relax.
7. Use Your Upper Body
Sometimes your legs just need a break. Or it could be that you’ve become such a ‘machine’ that traditional cardio has been well and truly conquered and no longer forces you to reall get that heart rate climbing. This is the perfect time to include some upper body cardio. The most obvious choice is the rowing machine.
Even only five minutes on the rowing machine could be a killer if you know how to really work at it. You might want to try sprint or interval method in the rowing machine. For truly exceptional fitness and lasting fat loss effect, shorter and harder will serve you best.
8. Mix It Up in the Outdoors
There is no rule that says cardio training has to involve a specific machine or a set movement. Sometimes the best workouts are the ones that involve spontaneous activity, or some sort of sport.
We know that variety creates results, so add to your gym-based training some activity in the great outdoors. Grab a frisbee, or some rollerblades, try rock climbing, or get a group of llike-minded friends together for some basketball.
9. Circuit Training
Turn your weight session into a cardio workout. You say what? How? This is personally my favourite approach to a cardio. Circuit training is so effective to keep your body lean because it is a weight training program that is also a cardio workout! It is time-efficient, it sculpts your body, it gets you sweating like a pig, and it most definitely takes care of cardio training without having actually hit the cardio machines.
Basic concept is very simple. Choose three to eight weight-training exercises and perform then back-to-back, one set of each. Pause between exercises for 90 seconds, and then repeat three to five more times.
Circuit Training will be discussed in depth in another article, stay tuned.
10. Just Stop Doing Cardio
What if you were to cut out cardio machine training altogether? Maybe not forever but just couple of weeks. Wouldn’t that be a great way to revolutionise the rest of your training?
Everybody needs a true break now and then from their standard activities, and by cutting out cardio altogether you will notice your performance in other areas will improve dramatically. People often said that they don’t give 100% in the weights room because they need to save energy for their cardio.
But how if, there’s even a slightest chance, that you could improve your overall training and your physical success goals by saying ‘no’ to cardio, isn’t it worth it?
So there you go, 10 tips to a better you, leaner you, and a machine that you can be. Give those points a go, and you’ll feel the benefits begin within a week or two. And rest assured, the visual results will soon follow too.
Besides the good training program, you will also need to pay attention to your nutrition. Take whey protein to help to repair your muscles as well as to satisfy your daily needs of protein other than from your solid foods. Also, drink tons of waters as it is good for your kidney and it helps increasing your metabolism level.
Happy Training and stay motivated!