As you dive into the winter season, you may find yourself in a rut of doing the same old, same old when it comes to your fitness and wellness routine. And as the temperatures get cooler, climbing on the dreaded treadmill or elliptical machine may seem to be your only options for burning those inevitable extra holiday calories.
Effective cardio training, though, can include more than your traditional running, biking and swimming. By taking your workout up a notch with high intensity cardio variations, you can jump start your fitness routine so you look better, feel better and perform better throughout this winter season.
Ramp Up Your Cardio for Weight Loss and Maintenance
As the holidays approach and we are in the thick of pumpkin pies, turkey dinners and overscheduled calendars, the common fitness theme this time of year is fighting the bulge and finding time to squeeze in a workout. Although concentrating on eating in moderation is a key component to weight loss and maintenance, cardio exercises focused on interval training can help combat the belly bounce. Interval training focuses on intense bursts of exercise in your workout that not only jump start your heart rate, but burn body fat quicker as well.
The good news for your hectic schedule is that you don’t have to bang out hours on the treadmill to realize the best cardio results for your body. Industry research shows that shorter duration of high intensity exercise can be more beneficial than traditional endurance training.
Basic exercise science also supports that the harder you work, the more calories you burn every minute you exercise, while high intensity cardio sessions also speed your metabolism for hours following your workout session.
So, if weight loss/maintenance is your main goal this holiday season, ditch the treadmill and opt for a more fast and furious workout full of burpees, wind sprints and slam balls. Your belly will appreciate it and so will the number on the scale January 1st, 2012.
Incorporate Cardio for Greater Strength and Muscle Definition
As we all know, strength and conditioning exercises build muscle. Cardio, when coupled with proper nutrition; however, is the secret weapon to defining and showing off the hours spent in the weight room. To create greater muscle definition in the common “problem” areas (arms, abs, glutes), it is important to incorporate metabolic cardio conditioning to your fitness regimen to unveil your hidden lean and sleek muscles.
A recent study that evaluated the effect of training methods on female college athletes found that concurrent strength and aerobic endurance training was highly effective on muscle strength and endurance, body composition and flexibility. When your goal is to build strength and muscle, combining strength training exercises with total body cardio is key to realizing the best results. This type of cardio approach packs a variety of total body movements into your workout that aims to raise your heart rate and maintain the increased level for 5-10 minutes.
Some full body cardio exercises include:
● mountain climbers
● battling ropes
● jump squat circuits.
These exercises allow you to build more muscle and burn calories, while you to get the most bang for your buck as it relates to time efficient and effective cardio exercises.
Maintain Consistent Cardio for Endurance Training
Whether your goal is to achieve a personal best at this year’s turkey trot or you’re planning to start the New Year with a triathlon or long distance running race, consistent cardio exercises are the key to any training program. There is no doubt about it that in order to prepare your body for a long endurance event, you have to put in the mileage. If you are signed up to run a half marathon in January, then you have to prepare your body for the wear and tear of pounding pavement for two hours by running (not walking, elliptical, biking) the mileage laid out for you in your training plan.
However, if you find yourself lacking motivation half way through your training program, you can mix up your weekly workouts by incorporating some hill and interval training to not only build muscle and endurance, but also keep you mentally engaged throughout your training program. Just make sure to plan appropriate rest days after the more intense training sessions to give your body time to recuperate and prepare for the big race day.
Another tactic for keeping you on track for successfully completing your training plan is to take your cardio training outdoors whenever possible. In the winter months this isn’t always an option, but if you can hit the trails early in the morning before a snow storm rolls in or later in the afternoon when temperatures have reached a reasonable level, research from West Virginia University found that training outdoors makes you 52 percent more likely to exercise more regularly.
Whether your goals this season are to combat the belly bounce, build more muscle or successfully train for an upcoming endurance event, incorporating high intensity cardio into your fitness routine will not only make you feel better and look better, but also perform better in any of your upcoming endeavors. Contact your local Fitness Together studio today to start building cardio into your overall fitness and wellness routine.