3 Ways To Make Your Cardio More Effective
Whether you do low or high intensity, I believe that getting started with cardio is an important part of any fitness program. As well as helping your body to burn fat, cardio can also provide you with a wide range of other benefits. For example, it may help to build up your immune system, strengthen your heart and decrease high blood pressure. However, in order to achieve these amazing benefits, it’s really important that you do your cardio workouts properly - especially when you're doing cardio at home!
3 Super Effective Cardio Enhancers
“But Kayla, how hard is it to walk on the treadmill or go for a run outside?” I hear you all saying!
I often see people losing motivation, using the wrong techniques or falling into habits that can reduce the effectiveness of their cardio workout. Here are a couple of ways that you might be self-sabotaging your cardio and what you can do to correct it.
Turn your phone into a fitness tracker
Problem: You’re not keeping track of your results
If you are serious about making progress with your cardio and general health, keeping track of your results is super important. In the first few weeks and months of any workout routine, you may not notice changes in your body straight away.
However, tracking the time or distance of your cardio workouts can help you to spot other ways you are making progress. Maybe you’re walking or running the same distance in less time, or completing your reps more easily. That’s a sign you may be ready to increase the intensity of your workout.
Here's the fix:
One of the biggest motivations for continuing a fitness routine is measurable results. Seeing as most people carry their phone with them to the gym, it makes sense to keep your information stored on there! You can track the progress made over each workout in the notes and compare it to previous weeks and months. If you know you completed 10 minutes of HIIT last week, you’ll know you need to smash out at least 10 minutes this week. If your phone has a timer, it makes it easy to stay on top of intervals too.
It’s also a great idea to use your phone to capture before and after photos to see the progress you are making (the SWEAT app has a feature to do this). I love to see the fantastic progress members of the Sweat community achieve! It is wonderful to be able to share these transformations with other girls who are on a similar journey. You never know who you might inspire!
Build a killer workout playlist
Problem: You zone out, or have trouble focusing during cardio sessions
While cardio sessions might seem very straightforward, it is important for you to stay focused on your technique and to listen to your body. I love to watch TV while I use the treadmill but I’m always mindful of my posture and that I’m still focused on my workouts. If you have the TV on, be careful you aren’t turning your head too much to see the screen because that can affect your posture and your gait.
Also, try not to hang on to the handrails while walking or running on the treadmill. This can not only cause changes to your posture but also means your body isn’t necessarily supporting its full weight, so you’re not working as hard as what you could be!
Here's the fix:
If you can’t see the TV clearly or feel as though you may become distracted, put on your headphones and listen to some music. I have my favourite workout playlist that I like to listen to and I think it’s important for you to choose the best workout songs that will motivate you. I have created a few different Apple Music workout playlists so you can pick something that encourages you to keep your heart rate up. Some songs just have a way of lifting your mood!
Music can help you to keep rhythm when running and also stop you from feeling bored mid-way through your workout. At the very least, we can probably all agree that listening to our favourite songs makes us feel awesome!
Time your rest periods
Problem: You slack off when it comes to your HIIT workouts
Being slow to increase the intensity during interval training or resting for too long means you really aren’t pushing your body to the levels you could be. For example, if you choose sprinting for your HIIT workout, the work period should see you hit between 90 and 100% effort, which is basically an all-out sprint. Once you’ve finished a work period, you should be resting for around 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Here's the fix:
Yes, your body needs a rest period. This allows a bit of recovery and for you to catch your breath. Just remember that with HIIT, you aren’t necessarily wanting your body to recover fully after each sprint, just long enough for you to exercise at capacity during the next work period. Setting a timer will stop you from losing track of your rest periods and keeps you on schedule. Staying on top of the work/rest periods may help encourage much better endurance and lung capacity. If you use my programs in the SWEAT app, the intervals are counted for you!
When it comes to HIIT training on a treadmill, I always tell my clients to jump your feet on to the sides of the treadmill rather than constantly increasing or decreasing the speed. Just make sure that you take care when getting on and off the treadmill and make use of the handrails and emergency stop button if it’s needed.
While managing a cardio routine seems much easier than following a set of exercises, there is a lot more involved than you might think! Regularly monitoring your cardio habits can certainly help you see areas that might need a bit more work and focus, as well as where you are making great progress.
When you’re done with your rejuvenated cardio session, you’ll certainly feel ready for a nice refreshing shower! Enjoy, you’ve earned it.