Whether low or high intensity, I believe that cardio is an important part of any fitness program. As well as helping your body to burn fat, cardio can also provide your body with a wide range of other benefits. For example, it may help strengthen your immune system, strengthen your heart and decrease high blood pressure just to name a few. However, in order to achieve these amazing benefits, it’s really important that you do your cardio workouts properly!
“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.
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 my BBG or any other 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 see 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.
How you can fix it: Start using your phone
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 here! 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 how your cardio is helping to shape your body (the Sweat with Kayla app has an awesome feature to do this). I love to see the fantastic progress our awesome BBG girls achieve! It is wonderful to be able to share these transformations with other girls who are walking the same journey. You never know who you might inspire!
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 focussed on your technique and to listen to your body. Lots of people ask if it’s bad to watch TV while they are running on the treadmill. While cardio can be a great way to catch up on your favourite drama, it can cause bad habits. For example, if you are turning your head to watch the screen, this could affect your posture, which may increase your risk of injury.
You might also get a little caught up in the show and hang on to the handrails while walking or running. This can not only cause changes in 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!
How you can fix it: Pump up those beats
Instead of watching the latest Game of Thrones ep, put on your headphones and listen to a killer playlist (see mine here). While I have my own favourite workout playlist that I like to listen to, it’s important that you choose songs that motivate you. I recommend picking something upbeat that encourages you to keep your heart rate up. Some songs just have a way of lifting your mood, even on those days you feel a world away!
Music can also help you keep rhythm when running and it should 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!
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.
How you can fix it: Time your rest periods
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. The Sweat with Kayla app is perfect for this, because it counts your intervals for you!
When it comes to HIIT training on a treadmill, I always tell my BBG girls 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 ;)Love, Kayla xx