Cardio Day Do’s and Don’ts

stretching before cardio

C-A-R-D-I-O, what’s that spell?  Cardio! (Insert dramatic eye roll here). What’s your definition of cardio?  If you’d ask a group of people I suspect you would find a different answer from all of them.  Maybe you like to run or take long walks, maybe your more of a get in go hard and get out in 15-20 minutes in which case HIIT is for you,  whatever your type cardio plays an essential role in heart and cardiovascular health.  Cardio also releases those endorphins that make us feel good while managing to help elevate our metabolism.  It’s an essential building block of a healthy lifestyle.

Everyone I have spoken to about cardio gives you a wide range of emotions about how they feel waking up knowing it’s cardio day.  There is the one type of person that absolutely loves cardio and focuses most if not all their weekly workouts around spinning, running, rowing , jumping etc.  The second type doesn’t mind getting a little sweaty and out of breath few times a week, and our last type hates it almost as bad as a kid hate getting a shot at the doctor’s office.

I fall somewhere between the last two categories. I used to be a 100% focused cardio-a-holic! I loved it and my lungs and endurance sure did too… but let’s be frank cardio is downright exhausting! I was not doing it because it was my favorite thing to be doing at 5am in the morning I was doing it because I feared that the only way to maintain my weight/not gain weight was doing a large amount of cardio – all the time.  WRONG.  So it wasn’t until I forced myself to try a new Beachbody program, Master Hammer and Chisel that I learned there is a much better way!  I could lift weights and increase my strength and stability in every day things like pushing doors and picking up my daughter while changing how my body looked.  You definitely work up a sweat and increase your heart rate lifting weights and yes I did have 1-2 cardio days a week I just didn’t live or die by cardio like my former self.  Here’s a great article if you are on the fence about cardio benefits versus weights from Precision Nutrition:.

But what works well for me and my body goals may not be the same things you like or the goals you have.  However amongst it all there are a few guiding rules when it comes to cardio and reaping benefits from it versus going overboard:

DO make sure to incorporate cardio weekly. 

What’s your goal? Weight loss?  Incorporate 3-4 cardio sessions a week.  Gain muscle/maintain you can get away with 2 no more than 3 days of cardio a week.

But, DON’T overdo the cardio.

I repeat… do not. Rather if you have tank in the gas ditch your go to cardio routine for some pilates, yoga or strength training substitute.  Overdoing cardio leads to low levels of energy, feeling burned out, and is not going to change your physique the way you want.  Seriously…  think about your goals and answer this question:  Would you rather be a smaller version of your current self or would you rather be more defined “toned” and stronger?  Excess cardio with no weight training focus gives you a “skinny fat” physique versus adding in strength training (with or without weights).

DO mix up the intensity of cardio you do weekly.

Not every cardio session has to be max intensity or too low intensity.  Mix is up add a quick HIIT session,a low intensity walk, or a steadystate run into the week.  Not only will your mind thank you but it will keep your body guessing which promotes change and prevents plateaus.  Need some inspiration?  Check out Popsugar Fitness’ cardio workouts for inspiration.

DON’T starve yourself before doing cardio.  

Yes in some various states when all the stars are aligned if the intensity of your cardio is low enough you may just possible burn more fat doing cardio on an empty stomach…  but personally, I’d rather fuel myself with something small as opposed to nothing and be starving, sweating and running on E through the whole thing.

DO make sure you are mentally prepared for cardio

The worst thing you can do is force yourself to go for a run or through some HIIT routine when you are running on 3 hrs of sleep, or you went out and drank too much the night before, or you are feeling ill.  Not only will you suffer through the whole workout but this also can lead to bad form and potential injuries which would set you back even further from your goals.  Instead on these days DO workout but opt for something more manageable like yoga or pilates or even a nice walk outside.

How often do you like to do cardio a week?  Have any extra tips to share with us on what works for you?  Share in the comments below.

 

Full Body Workout (40 minute) – Get ready to get sweaty!

treadmill runningGet ready to get sweaty my friends!  Here’s a 40 minute full body workout for days when you just want to take it up a notch.  For best results sub into your weekly routines one time a week (aim for 2-3 additional days of high intensity/total body workouts).

The value that interval and total body training provide is extremely high!  Doing intervals of high/low intensity helps your body increases the afterburn effect on your body for hours after your workout is over!  Why spend time running or walking at a steady pace for an hour where you will only burn what you see on the machine? Why not add 20 minutes back into your busy life and increase caloric burn all day long!

This workout has 2 parts:  Part 1 Cardio & Part 2 Weight Training

Treadmill disclaimer: These are the speeds I am comfortable with, so please adjust accordingly to fit your fitness levels.  Just remember with intervals, aim to be able to talk just fine when jogging and pick up the intensity during  the sprint phases for max results.  Feel free to substitute treadmill for elliptical or bike if you prefer.

WORKOUT PART 1: Cardio

Warm-up (2-5 minutes): Treadmill walk at comfortable pace (3.0-3.5 mph/1% incline)

Workout: (15 minutes): Up incline to 1%-1.5%

  • 1 minute JOG or easy run (6.3 mph)
  • 40 seconds full on RUN (7.2 mph)
  • 20 seconds SPRINT (7.7-8.0 mph)

Repeat 5X above (approx 15 minute mark)

For the last 5 minutes begin a Walk/Run routine giving your glutes, calves and legs some attention:

  • Ease at JOG pace for 1 minute
  • Every 30 seconds reduce speed by .2mph and UP incline by .5% (stop when you get to about 3.5mph-3.8mph)
  • Once you hit 10% incline reverse back down dropping every 30 secs the incline by 1%

Recover (2-5 minutes) : Stay at 0%-1% incline reduce speed to 2.5mph-3.2mph)

WORKOUT PART 2: Weight Training

You may use dumbbells or cables for this routine (I used one of the cable pulley systems at my gym)

Tri Set ( repeat 3x increasing weights each set 8lb-10lb, 10-12lb, 12-15lb)

  • Front Raises – 12-15 reps with 8lb weights
  • Squat/Rows – 15 reps each arm.  Squat while doing single arm rows 10lbs.  Maintain squat while you switch arms.
  • Tricep Overhead Press – 15 reps 10lbs – While bent over/back straight pull cable with both arms over head until arms are straight. (you should feel it in the back of your arms upon each extension).

Ab Rotation: 15 Rotations each side, repeat 2x.  Pull cable or weight across torso with both arms. Should feel entire core twisting.

Cool down: stretch out arms and legs.  I like downward dog, deep lunges, and traditional arm stretches.

Hope you enjoy this workout! Let me know if you find it valuable!

4 Kickass Workout DVD’s

dumbells for exercise

multicolored dumbells

Do you work out at home?  If so what do you look for in an effective workout DVD?  Do you have a few that you consistently go to or do you have videos to cover your  range of moods?  For me, it’s the latter.  Since I’ve been steadily adding to my growing collection since 2006, I have accumulated over 50 videos ranging in difficulty levels and styles like: yoga, pilates, cardio, weight training, ballet, cardio, kickboxing, kettlebell….  you get the picture.  Talk about an investment…

It was about this time last year that I posted an article on my top 5 cardio dvd’s.  Did you get a chance to try any of them out?   I will admit looking back, those are still some of my all time favorite workouts (yes out of the 50).  However as another year has gone by and my goals are different with wedding day just around the corner, I have expanded my collection into a new realm.  Below you will find 2013’s list which I labeled as “killer workout” since you are left running on empty by the end of these DVD’s….  but it’s so worth it!  Check it out:

1. Jeanette Jenkins: Bikini Boot Camp – Also known as The Hollywood Trainer, I LOVE her.  She’s well-known past her original Crunch Fitness days as whipping celebrities in shape before they strut their killer bodies on the red carpet.   I rediscovered her videos in about March of this year and seriously can not get enough.  This particular video is close to an hour and 20 if you do it from start to finish.  There’s a cardio camp, strength camp, abs camp, and stretch camp all built-in.  She also has kickboxing dvd’s and a power yoga dvd I’m eager to try.  As a foreword, her dvd’s can be a little pricey ($40 on Amazon instead of $15-$20 that most are) but they are absolutely worth the money.

2. Tracy Mallet: F.I.T. (Functional Intensity Training) – Tracy is known for her pilates and cardio barre type workouts but this one incorporates some of those moves, packed in with cardio bursts, weight training and those tricky lesser known exercises that leave your glutes feeling it for days!

3. Shawn T: Insanity –  Now don’t let this one scare you.  Yes you will be gargling for your breath the whole time, but it’s only 30-40 minutes and it’s so worth the time.  Don’t let the “program” fool you.  You don’t have to do the workouts as they recommend to get great benefits.  I treat these as separate workouts and I add one workout into my week if i feel I need an extra boost. They are highly effective when you need a quick butt kicking cardio workout.

4. Jillian Michaels: Ripped in 30 : Like most of Jillian’s dvd’s this one contains several levels of workouts.  This dvd in particular comes packed with 4 short 24 minute workouts.  Surviving one is great, managing to get through two might cause your legs to seize between bear crawls and duck walks it sure packs a punch.  One of my favorite lines is when she says during a glottal exercises “I want to bounce a quarter off your butt!”

These are just a few of my recommendations sure to get you in the best shape of your life whether, like me you have a wedding or special event, or just because you want to look and feel your best.  I encourage you to give at least one of these a try and let me know what you think.

Written by Kimberly Evans

Top 5 Cardio DVD’s

The best exercise plan is one that gets you moving whether that be indoors, outdoors, underwater or out in the mountains.  It’s great for your body to use a combination of types of exercise to get the best results possible and to counteract any plateaus in your health plan.

But, what if you can’t?  What if you are too busy to get out to a pool or gym?  What if you don’t live near a trail or you have to stay home with a young child?   It doesn’t mean that all hopes are lost.  I found after having a child that I don’t have that flexibility to just go out to a class or out for a run whenever i feel like it so I turned to exercise videos and I LOVE them.  I think they are one of the best ways for you to take control of your body and get those cut results you are looking for while still taking some direction from experienced trainers.  It’s like having a personal trainer in your home for only $14.99!

Looking for some great cardio exercise DVD’s to try?  The videos below are not for the weak!  They are in no particular over preference as i love them all!

1. Ultimate Fat-Burning Collection (The Firm) – 4 kick butt 40-60 minute workouts using primarily cardio but added weights.

2. Banish Fat Boost Metabolism (Jillian Michaels)

3. Cardio Conditioning (Bob Harper) – this one uses a kettleball, don’t have one?  One heavy 8-15lb weight will be just fine.

4. Less is More Cardio (Cindy Whitmarsh) – 30 minutes straight cardio, she’s efficient, ripped, and quick while getting the job done.

5. Ultimate Cardio Body (Bob Harper) – uses light weights… let’s just say the beginning 15 minutes involve over 150 lunges…. you want to hate him but love him at the same time for the results every time.  Say goodbye to if you have any cottage cheese looking dimples on the back of your thighs!