Cardio seems like the simplest thing in the world: you just need to do it. This, however, doesn’t explain the wide range of results that people get with it. Some see very fast results while others don’t seem to achieve anything.
To help you get started right on cardio, I’ve compiled a few tips that any beginner should keep in mind:
Choose The Right Workout For You
The first decision you face is to choose which cardio workout you want to be doing. Naturally, you may choose to take part in more than a single activity. The question is how to choose your workout.
If this was a subjective question I would advise you to pick the most intense workout possible. Running, rowing, or high intensity aerobic classes will likely yield faster results than walking, the elliptical machine, or cycling on a recumbent bike while watching a sitcom on the gym TV.
However, this isn’t a subjective question. It deals with you and your preferences. You need to make a personal decision.
The best advice that I can give you is to choose a workout that you enjoy and one which you can do on a regular basis. Exercise needs to be a regular part of your life. If you try to “force” yourself into doing a specific workout which you hate, there’s a good chance that you won’t stick to it long enough to see results.
Intensity Is The Key
At a gym I used to frequent there was a young woman who would come in every day to do cardio. At least I think she came in every day. Whenever I was there I saw her. One time when I met her just before we got into the gym I asked here what she had planned for that day. Her answer was the she was going to do 60 minutes on the elliptical.
This may seem like a reasonable answer to you but in my mind it shows a total misunderstanding of how cardio should be done. What this woman told me is that she measures her work by the time it takes. Basically, she’s going to be on the elliptical for an hour but she didn’t say anything about what she planned on doing during that hour, the sort of workout will she do.
I see this often. People who go through the motions of cardio for 45-60 minutes in the gym while watching TV or chatting with their friends. They sure put in the time but they hardly put in the effort.
This is not the way to get results with cardio. For cardio to be an effective fat burning activity it needs to be intense. If you’re not ready to make an effort don’t bother. It will be a big waste of your time. And I do mean big. That young woman I told you about must have spend 6-8 weekly hours doing cardio and through all the months I knew her, I didn’t see any change in her body. It’s as if she did nothing at all.
The Cardio Myth
Cardio can be a good way to lose weight. However, the belief that it is the only way or the best way is a myth. There are other ways to train which can be more effective than traditional cardio workouts. The idea that cardio alone should be how you workout is wrong. The best way to lose weight, tone your body, and get in shape involves more than just cardio. You need to combine it with strength training for the best results.
Too many beginners choose cardio or weight training. The ideal choice combines both.
When To Do Cardio
There are two parts to this tip. The first one refers to the time of day in which you should do cardio. Some research shows that when you do cardio before breakfast you burn more fat. However, the main thing is to simply do your workout. The time of day is not all that important.
The second part refers to when you should do cardio in your workouts. If you do both cardio and strength training in the same session, keep the cardio to the end. For one, you don’t want to do weight lifting with a drenched shirt. For another, you should be as fresh as possible when you lift weights to enable you to do these exercises with correct technique.
Cardio At Home
Cardio brings to mind images of a stretch of road with bicycles coursing by or a treadmill in a gym. Cardio doesn’t have to be done outdoors or at the gym. There are plenty of cardio exercises that you can do at home. You can get a great workout with a jump rope or by doing a variety of bodyweight jumping exercises.
The point I’m making is that a lack of time or bad weather are no excuse to not do cardio. You can get a great workout in as little as 20 minutes at home if you decide to do so.
For cardio to be effective it needs to be intense, combined with weight training, and a regular part of your life. Anything less will provide partial results at best.
So, do cardio. Enjoy your workouts. Just keep in mind that cardio needs to be done in an intense way for it to be effective and that it can’t be the only thing you do to lose weight and get in shape.