My Personal Favorites For Cardio (Workouts Included)

Generally, when we hear the word ‘cardio’ a number of different words come to mind (depending on the individual of course!) In my world, these are the words I typically hear”

  • UGH
  • Boring
  • Mindless
  • Useless
  • Dependent 
  • Addicted
  • No

As you can see, there is a range from those who clearly want nothing to do with ‘cardio’ and those who live and breathe 60 minutes of cardio 5-6x a week. Lately, I find that the word ‘cardio’ has more negative connotations associated with it, and this could be due to a variety of factors from social media influence to articles circling the internet. The truth is that people need to understand the benefits of cardio so as not to abuse it and get in that negative spin. 

There are SO many convoluted opinions and ‘fitness professionals’ sharing their two cents. You can honestly hear all of these comments below in the same day

  • Cardio is awesome!
  • Cardio is the worst thing ever!
  • There is no need for cardio
  • Cardio is necessary for fat loss
  • Too much cardio will eat at your muscle
  • Without cardio, you won’t be able to lose fat
  • Do cardio everyday
  • Don’t do cardio 

Seriously? I have heard every one of these statements and so I am not surprised at all that people get confused with how to do it, what to do, how often, what modes? 

I know you don’t want to hear it but the best advice I can give is to find what works for YOU. There is obviously science backed research on the benefits of cardio in one’s exercise program and that is is absolutely beneficial for every single humans heart health, but how much, in what capacity and how often is going to be something that is very person dependent! 

There will always be fitness professionals whose opinion on traditional cardio will be negative because they see day in and day out those cardio bunny who spend hours on the elliptical and stair master and yet see no change to their bodies because they are overly dependent on these machines hopping to one day see fat loss. The truth is that to change ones body composition, it is so helpful, smart and dare I say necessary to engage in some sort of strength routine 2-3x a week. Nothing fancy and nothing complicated, but the reason cardio gets a bad rep sometimes is because these same trainers and coaches really try to emphasize strength training over cardio when it comes to fat loss (which I agree with!) This DOES NOT however, mean that cardio should be thrown to the way side! 

Whether you do it or don’t do it, cardio has a time and place in anyones workout program. There are SOOOO many ways to incorportate cardio into your workout routine that don’t consist of spinning around on an elliptical machine. When and what you choose to do can absolutely be tailored to your time, location, goals and enjoyment factor. These factors should always be taken into account ESPECIALLY the enjoyment factor.  You would be hard pressed to find me on an elliptical machine but I would get on the stair master for 30 minutes of steady state, heart pumping cardio. Its preference, not rocket science 🙂 

I wanted to share some of my favorite ways to get the heart pumping and of course include some examples for you to try today! They include these 5 sections

  • Sprints
  • Madness in the gym (include kettlebells/complexes/bodyweight/equipment etc)
  • Kettlebell swings
  • Jump Rope
  • Leisure walking

SPRINTS:

One of the most brutal form of cardio right here and even better when performed outside on a street, up a hill OR on on a track.

Sprints are fast, effective, empowering and can be done anywhere! Find a hill, find an open space, grab a treadmill and you can make it happen! If you are truly sprinting, the sprint intervals should not last more than 1 minute at the most. Incorporating sprinting 1-2 or even 3x a week is a great foundation to really help shed fat and shape the entire body (hugely obliques!!)  

Sprint workouts can be done FAST and are very taxing on on the body so I wouldn’t recommend performing them on back to back days. Sprints are versatile and fun and can be done literally anywhere! You have a street? You have sprints! 

MADNESS IN THE GYM CARDIO: 

This section is a smorgasbord of all different ‘quick and dirty’ conditioning routines.  These workouts I LOVE. They are a combination of total body cardio, some strength training and body weight work. I love racing against the clock when completing quick and dirty workouts. It makes the competition against myself that much harder and more challenging! I have a TON of these and if you follow me on INSTAGRAM, I post quite a few!! 

KETTLEBELL SWINGS:

Kettlebell  swinging is a complete and utter full body challenge. Before you hop over, grab a bell and begin swinging away, I URGE you to learn proper form first. You can check out my latest posts HERE where I talk ALL about kettlebell training! PLEASE. It took me weeks and weeks to learn how to swing a kettlebell the proper way and to this day, I work on form with every swing I take. Swings are not a walk in the park to learn, however once you nail them down, you will feel a complete, metabolic full body experience like none other. Because KB exercise form is so dynamic, I felt muscles in my body that you would think would not be activated at first, but oh no. You will feel EVERY SINGLE MUSCLE. Kettlebell workouts are definitely a muscle wakeup call and having a whole conditioning workout focused on swings is NO JOKE! 

JUMP ROPE

Ok, so confession is that I STINK at jump rope. I am trying to work on it but I truly believe I don’t think ill ever be one of those people who jump rope beautifully without tripping over the rope every 20 seconds. 🙁 BUT I’m working on it!! Jump rope is an awesome and FUN form of conditioning and keeps me so busy because I’m so focused on not letting my feet touch the rope!

JUMP ROPE CARDIO IDEAS:

  • Set a timer for 20 minutes and get in as much as you can! Every time you break, just reset!
  • Rope rope for 30 seconds on/30 sec rest  for 20 minutes
  • Jump rope for 1 minute, row or sprint for 1 minute (do this for 20-30 minutes)
  • Count 200 jumps. Rest 1 min (Repeat this for 20-30 minutes) 

LEISURE WALKING

If i am going to be engaging in some sort of ‘steady state’ cardio or something that my heart rate will stay around some zone 2 work for an extended period of time, walking is something that I don’t hate by any means. I find walking therapeutic and a great time for me to think about anything thats going on in my life. Its ME time. I can have clarity, or blast music. Do it with my dog , or do it on a treadmill. Whatever. There are certainly some folks who will scoff at this and tell me I’m crazy, but I think that incorporating some zone 2 work once a week for the heart AND for mental clarity is such a beneficial thing. 

 I don’t have specific examples of how to walk but basically, this can be done on a treadmill, flat or incline if you want to add some intensity OR outside!  I also find walking to be a great recovery exercise if I’m feeling sore or drained. Its moving and its something that we do everyday so why not do it for a little bit longer to reap the heart healthy benefits. If you’re on a treadmill, I would suggest 5-8% incline and 3-4 speed. DO NOT HOLD ONTO THE HANDLES. Just lower the speed if you feel you need to grab on! 

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There you have it, guys! I hope you have some new and fresh ideas to use when it comes to cardio and conditioning that maybe aren’t so traditional and guaranteed to keep things fun and fresh!  As always shoot me an email (1fitfoodie@gmail.com)comment, follow me and reach out with any comments/questions!

 

xoxo

Naomi

 

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