Does the thought of cardio give you heart palpitations without even trying? Like it or not, cardio is one of the best ways to give your heart (and body) the workout it needs to keep your blood pumping. Take your cardio game to the next level with these hacks.
Find your target heart rate and monitor where you are throughout your workout. Although the number can help you find a good target zone, make sure to listen to your body first and slow down if you feel like you’re exerting too much effort.
Switch it up...and fast! Alternating quickly between movements that use different parts of your body keeps your heart rate high. Try a quick-footed movement like jumping jacks or box jumps, followed by some fast paced strength training. Or you could target fast arm movements like punching with quick weighted squats.
Increase your intensity with high intensity interval training (HIIT). Studies show that one minute of high intensity movement has the same benefits of 45-minutes of gentler movement! If you’re using a piece of gym cardio equipment, you can set the program to an pre-programmed interval, or use your own timing. If you’re hitting the road on foot, bike, or other wheels, download an interval app that alerts you when it’s time to kick up the speed. Set the mood with an energy-intensive playlist that gets your adrenaline going.
Trick your mind and change it up. Sometimes motivating yourself to get out the door and moving is the hardest thing you’ll attempt to do. If you’re a person who likes change, vary your workout everyday throughout the week so you always have something new and exciting to look forward to. Still need some extra motivation? Commit to working out with a friend. It’s harder to bail on your movement plans when you know someone is counting on you to do it with them.
Push yourself to go just a little more...and a little more after that. Breaking up your cardio routine into smaller “mental” chunks can help you get warmed up and into the flow. When your mind starts to think about quitting, push it a little further: “30 more seconds and then you can stop…now 30 more…” and so on. Of course, if you’re feeling exhausted and need to take a break, give your body a rest. But sometimes your inner coach can provide just the right motivation to get you to push just past giving up.
There are lots of ways to use cardio hacks in your daily routine. Don’t just take the stairs, take them quickly and often! If you’re making a quick trip to the grocery store, ditch the cart and carry the goods in a handheld basket while you shop. Waiting to pick your kids up from school? Don’t wait in the carpool line; park a few blocks away and walk to meet your little ones. The stroll back to the car is better for your heart and will give you some priceless moments to hear all about their day.