How to Improve Your Cardio Workout

Whether you’re in training for a marathon or simply trying to live a healthier life, regular cardio exercise should be an integral part of your week. Unlike lifting weights, there are several ways to get the cardio exercise you need to get your heart working.

Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way to exercise, as getting your heart rate into the target zone for at least 20 minutes is all that really matters. However, by increasing the intensity of your cardio exercise programme gradually as you become fitter, you can maximise the associated health benefits.

Hit the treadmill

Rain or shine, the trusty gym treadmill is always there to get your heart racing. However, it’s important to use it effectively in order to maximise its effect. In order to avoid aching joints, muscle strains and premature fatigue, you should try to avoid bouncing up and down. Concentrate on keeping your head level as you run, and your body should take you further.

For the best cardio results, it’s a good idea to introduce interval training to your weekly regime. Divide at least 20 minutes into two-minute blocks, and increase the intensity of your run after each two-minute increment has passed – until you reach the fifth. This should be repeated by dropping back down to the lowest intensity and working through the intensity levels once again. You can alter the intensity either by speeding the treadmill up or increasing the incline.

Get on your stationary bike

Whilst outdoor cycling is a great way to exercise in the great outdoors, there are several distractions involved that have the potential to ruin your workout. Watching for traffic, stopping at lights and adjusting to different surfaces can mean your cardio workout becomes a little stop-and-start. A stationary bike, however, allows you to concentrate on your fitness without such distractions.

It’s important to push yourself to the limit of your current physical capabilities, as this will improve your cardio fitness gradually. You can use a fitness tracker to ensure your heart rate reaches the target zone. Interval training that breaks your cycling session into two-minute segments is a great way of strengthening your heart over time.

Try out the elliptical trainer

The elliptical trainer is now a common sight in most gyms up and down the country. However, it’s important that you push yourself when using it by selecting a resistance that poses a serious challenge to your strength and fitness. Once again, interval training is the best approach, as it makes your heart work hard for short periods of time before resting. Push yourself to your limit for 90 seconds every two minutes or so.

Hit the pool

Swimming is a highly effective way of building up cardio fitness, burning fat and protecting your muscles and joints. However, you shouldn’t let your swimming become a relaxing dip. Just 30 minutes of breast stroke at a pace that gets your heart racing could be enough to burn off between 300 and 400 calories. If you suffer from joint pain, or you have a muscular problem that is causing you pain, swimming is the most effective way to get the cardio exercise you’re looking for.

Get rowing

Too many people fail to get the full benefit of rowing because of poor technique. Try to avoid bumping your knees with your hands, and make sure you’re rowing with your entire body using smooth motions. It’s also important to avoid simply rowing at the same intensity for 30 minutes. Build up resistance and pick up the pace as your workout progresses, and record your achievements with an activity tracker. Trying to attain your goals and beat your previous best will give you added motivation.

Cardio exercise is the key to weight loss, a healthy heart and a healthy lifestyle. By pushing yourself and always striving to reach your goals, you can ensure your cardio fitness is maximised for a stronger, fitter and happier you.

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