The holidays are upon us and so are the temptations that follow. Ever-expanding beltlines and dinner plates fill our spare time as we throttle back our efforts in the gym. That dream physique can wait until January, right?
Besides, who wants to drag our sorry carcasses on that dreaded treadmill one more time while holding onto that thin thread of hope that we will one day emerge victorious on our quest for the coveted six pack? I’ll bet tired, bored and weary describe your feelings toward cardio training.
Is it time to jump off the carousel of results-free cardio training and onto something not only more interesting and fun, but also something that you will actually do and be effective at finally stripping away body fat?
Although the temperature is dropping outside and relegating people to take cover inside, there are still plenty of options to tackle when it comes to keeping cardio fresh and exciting. Your short list of options doesn’t have to include the tiresome and stale staples we all know too well: treadmill, recumbent bike and some form of elliptical or stair-step machine.
Let’s break it down to not only what will be new and appealing but also will be even more effective at burning fat in (wait for it) less time. Use this unique list as a guide for your renewed friendship with cardio.
Go Outside of Your Box
Joining a specific group outside of the gym can be just what you need to kick start your motivation to lean up. These can include but are not limited to cross training, boot camps, hiking, rock climbing, CrossFit, obstacle courses and mixed martial arts. There are also plenty of organized groups for traditional activities such as running, biking, swimming, tennis and basketball.
The key is to get outside of your comfort zone and try something not only new but also that includes a sense of community. Trotting along on cardio solo can get draining and downright boring. Performing cardio in a group setting can increase motivation without feeling like work.
You will also get a heavy dose of accountability. As you develop friendships within the group, you will be expected to show up and perform. This translates to positive feedback and, in turn, will generate momentum toward your goals.
Find a Prize Inside
If you train at a traditional gym, there is no doubt the facility offers a wide variety of group classes. The days of Jazzercize and Jane Fonda-dom are over. Most gyms now offer intense classes that include CrossFit-syle cross training workouts, intense boot camps, kickboxing, suspension training classes, kettle bell classes and many other (more manly) options.
Worry not. Participating in a class or two a few times per week won’t stall your progress on the weights. You will only gain a new sense of functionality and lower body fat levels and you may learn a thing or two you can incorporate into your own resistance training program.
Most, if not all classes include beginner levels all the way up to advanced. However, don’t be embarrassed about being a newbie. When learning a new skill or activity, the mere act of starting something new can be intense enough to elicit the right amount of change.
Exploring more options right under your nose might be the long lost diamond in the rough you needed to accelerate your cardio efforts and peak a lagging interest. And most of all have fun.
Use the Familiar for Something New
You can easily incorporate cardio-style training into your existing program – literally. By utilizing some specific pieces of equipment, you don’t have to go far to get in your cardio without adding any more time to your workout. Sleds, kettle bells, cardio machines and some familiar exercises can be added during rest periods of traditional sets.
For example, you can pepper some less intense moves during rest periods of a chest workout. Without resting simply jump right into the cardio component listed, rest for a few seconds and continue with your next set.
|Chest and Cardio|
|Incline Dumbbell Bench Press||3||10-12|
|Treadmill Sprint||2||30 secs|
|Parallel Bar Dips||3||15|
|Sled Drag||2||set length|
*AMAP = as many as possible
There are so many options and ways to interject some nontraditional cardio moves into your existing program. Be sure to start with something manageable and as you gain strength and endurance move up the intensity and duration and decrease rest periods.
Go It Alone
Finally, you can always take it outside on your own with a little organization and knowhow. Utilizing outdoor facilities such as running tracks, hills, off road trails and even playgrounds you can widen your pallet for more exciting cardio options.
High intensity interval training (HIIT) comes into play here as it can be applied to any and all forms of outdoor training. Hill sprints, track intervals, cross training and boot camp-style intervals can rev up any stale routine.
You can even incorporate traditional exercises with running. For example, for each “corner” or length of a track or trail drop and either do crunches, burpees or push-ups, then continue on with running until the next stop – then repeat. After 20 minutes of so, you will have had a significantly comprehensive cardio session without being bored to death.
- Run at a comfortable pace for 100 meters
- 20 push-ups
- 100 meter run
- 20 crunches
- 100 meter run
- 20 burpees
- 100 meter run
- 2 jumping jacks
- Repeat series
Consistently changing up your options is a surefire way to reach your goals while having a little creative fun along the way. Try some of these outdoor activities three times per week preferably either after weight training or on their very own separate day.
Of course, diet plays a huge role in whether or not your abs will come out for Christmas but with a sound eating plan and a renewed sense of purpose toward cardio training you can bet on a leaner, more muscular you without the added boredom.