Considering that your heart is one of the most vital muscles in your body, building up your cardiovascular endurance is a super important part of getting and staying healthy. But as with any muscle, you need to respect it and train it smart for the best results. When talking about cardio most people think running or walking, but really any exercise that uses big muscles to get the heart pumping for a sustained period of time is a cardio exercise. This means biking, swimming, dance workouts like Zumba, climbing, rowing, HIIT workouts all count as cardio workouts.
Adding Cardio to your fitness routine can bring huge gains. When done properly, it can help with weight loss, and improve heart and lung function which has a positive impact on your entire system, decreasing your risk of heart disease, lowering your blood pressure and providing you with more energy, less stress and even better sleep.
But as you think about adding that cardio to your plan beware of these common mistakes people make:
1. Always doing the same thing
As with any sort of training plan, if you do the same thing all the time your body adjusts to the demands you are putting on it and you can stop seeing benefits like weight loss or improvements in your performance. To avoid this, keep it interesting by switching up your cardio workouts and keep your body excited
2. Working out at the same intensity all the time
Whether you are a leisurely walker or trying to break the land speed record, too much of anything is not usually a good thing. It’s important to have variety in your workouts and to work well designed interval training into your cardio on a regular basis. Understanding your body and how to vary intensity throughout your workouts will allow you to continuously challenge yourself without the risk of overtraining it and ending up injured.
3. Doing something you don’t enjoy
Cardio is not supposed to feel like punishment, so if you don’t like running, don’t run! There are so many options for great ways to get the benefits of cardio. So whether it’s the elliptical, a spinning bike, a treadmill, walking, rowing or any other number of options that makes you happy, do that. Find the thing that speaks to your soul and leaves you feeling good about both yourself and what you have accomplished and do that!
4. Eating too much
Burning calories through the sustained effort required for a great cardio workout can definitely leave you feeling a little hungry. You may have read that it’s important to carb load when upping your cardio, but truly unless you are training for a marathon or triathlon or other equally demanding long-distance goal, most of us only need a snack between 200-400 calories after a good workout. And rather than heading straight for the carbs, look for a snack that combines protein and carbs equally like a banana and peanut butter or chocolate milk, a protein drink or a small turkey roll up instead.
5. Not having a plan
Maybe you are more of a fly by the seat of your pants type personality, but when it comes to any sort of training, having a plan is super important. Deciding what your goals are, laying out a well thought out plan to get there and having benchmarks laid out so you can see your progress and work toward long lasting sustainable improvements in your fitness level. If you don’t know where to start to come up with a plan that works for you, seek out the help of a knowledgeable trainer.
So basically, in order to see the best results from your cardio workouts, find something you enjoy doing, add it into your schedule at least 3 times a week and set up a plan to guide you through interval and varying intensity work to help keep your body challenged and help you get strong and healthy in a safe and smart way. If this is what you are looking for, but you don’t know where to start have no fear- we’ve got you covered!
Right now, you can sign up for our 6-week cardio workshop with Cathy Pierce. She is amazing, and has already done all the hard work for you using science, research, and years of experience to create a highly effective plan to help you turn that cardio time onto real life results. If this sounds like something you are interested in click here for more info or head over to mindbody and sign up today!