Doing cardiovascular exercise is proven to improve your lung capacity, heart health, as well as aiding weight loss. Many people do not enjoy doing cardio and some don't do it at all. But which is the best type for you?
Low Intensity Steady State (LISS)
Low Intensity cardio is accessible to most people as you do not need a high level of fitness to begin with and you can easily incorporate it into daily life by going for a walk. Low intensity cardio exercises include things like walking, climbing stairs, or going for a gentle bike ride. These types of exercises are low impact and typically performed at around 40% of your maximum heart rate, which makes them easy to recover from and therefore can be performed on a regular basis. You probably won't break a sweat doing this type of cardio so you could do it on your lunch break at work. Bodybuilders often prefer this type of cardio as it is less likely to break down muscle tissue but can still help you drop body fat.
Benefits of LISS:
- It is low impact so you can still do it if you have a minor injury or have limited mobility.
- You won't break a sweat so you can fit it into your daily routine without having to plan around it.
- It doesn't break down muscle tissue so you can still improve your strength while dropping body fat.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
High Intensity Interval Training sees you working very near 100% of your maximum effort for short bursts with short rests in between. This type of training can help to improve your VO2 and cardiovascular fitness very quickly and is proven to aid weight loss. This type of cardio is not suitable for those who are pregnant or those who have injuries. You need a fairly high level of fitness to start with otherwise you will end up feeling very sick!
Benefits of High Intensity Cardio:
- Boosts Metabolism for up to 24 hours.
- Increases VO2 max.
- Shorter workouts are great for those who lack a lot of free time to train.
- Increased Lactate Threshold. Your ability to handle increased lactic acid buildup in your muscles increases.
Do you have to do cardio to burn fat?
The only way you can lose weight is by eating a calorie deficit. This means burning more calories than you are eating. While you don't need to do cardio to burn fat, it certainly helps! There are so many other benefits to doing cardio other than just weight loss, so it is definitely an important part of a healthy lifestyle.
The reason I started looking into barefoot running was the reason that most of us do, and that's injury prevention. Historically I have tried running; I've tried training for the London marathon, I've tried running 10k, but the result was always the same. Bad knees, tight IT bands, and eventually injury. In the end, I just gave up. That was until I read about barefoot running.
Before changing to a barefoot running style, I went to Vivo Barefoot headquarters to have my gait analysed. I ran on a treadmill barefoot and the guys checked the way I run. They claim that everyone is designed to run and it is only due to cushioned running trainers that we end up getting injured.
The main struggle I had with barefoot running was the impact on my calves. Changing to a forefoot strike puts a lot more pressure on your calf muscles and they start to ache a lot. Like anything, you need to build up slowly. I did build up my training and I got faster and a much stronger runner. But it was time to welcome a new running injury, shin splints.
So after building up working through the issues has been changed in worth it? Completely.Remember, changing running style will not happen overnight. This is a long, slow process.
As summer approaches there's always more pressure to lose the excess pounds and look your best for beach trips and holidays. Try this summer scorcher workout which is guaranteed to burn tons of calories and get you fit for summer.
How it works
This is a type of circuit workout, but instead of doing each exercise for a certain amount of time, you do a set number of reps and use a stop watch to time how long it takes you to complete the entire workout. Once you've completed it, try it again the following week to see if you can improve on your time!
For the first exercise, you do 10 reps. Then 9 reps for the second exercise, 8 reps for the third, then 7 reps, 6 reps, then 5. After the 5 rep exercise, you go back up; so you do the 6 rep exercise again, then 7, then 8, 9, 10.
You can rest whenever you need and for as long as you need. The point is to keep doing the workout each week and improve your fitness so that after a while, you don't need to rest as much (if at all!) and can smash through the workout in a much quicker time than your first attempt.
This is a complete full-body workout and will target every part of your body so that you get great all-round tone while also working your lungs and heart to improve your fitness and burn maximum calories. This workout includes some weighted exercises and some body weight exercises. All of these exercises can be done at the gym or at home, so long as you have dumbbells and a kettlebell at your disposal.
10 reps - Dumbbell Burpees
For this exercise you will need a pair of dumbbells in a fairly light weight. Anything from 2kg to 6kg will be plenty. Hold one dumbbell in each hand, bend down so that they rest on the floor, then jump your legs back while still holding the dumbbells in place. Jump your legs back in and stand up with the dumbbells still by your side. As you stand fully upright, push both dumbbells to the ceiling and then return to your starting position. That's one rep.
9 reps - Jumping Lunges
Drop into a lunge on one leg, then jump into a lunge on the other leg. Use your arms to help with balance and momentum and make sure you keep good form on each and every lunge. One rep is a lunge on each leg, so you will do 18 lunges in total.
8 reps - Kettlebell Swings
This exercise is a classic and for good reason, it works the back and core while also targeting the legs and arms. Use a heavy enough weight and you'll be feeling the effects in your lungs and heart too!
Start by holding a kettlebell with both hands in front of you. Bend your knees and swing the kettlebell between your legs and then up above your head. You can swing it high than eye level, but shoulder-level is safest, especially if you are a beginner. Keep the movement controlled throughout and do not let the kettlebell pull your shoulders forward as it swings down each time. Keep your back straight and your core tight. 8 reps!
7 reps - Jumping Squats
This exercise will target all parts of your legs and give you great tone and definition while also challenging your cardio fitness. Drop into a squat, then as you come up, jump as high as possible. Keep your ankles and knees flexible and try to make the movement as fluid as possible. As with the jumping lunges, use your arms for momentum and to help with balance.
6 reps - Inch Worm With Upright Row
To start this exercise, place your kettlebell on the floor in front of you, keep it the same weight as you used for the kettlebell swings. Bend your legs and pick up the kettlebell while keeping your chest up and looking ahead. Stand up and pull the kettlebell up to your chin, keeping your elbows high and squeezing your upper back.
As you lower the kettlebell, put it back down on the floor, then - keeping your feet firmly planted - walk your hands forward along the floor until you are in a press up position. Then, walk your hands back in and pick the kettlebell back up. This is 1 rep.
5 reps - Burpees
Enjoy the pain!
Once you've done these exercises, go back up the ladder, so after the burpees do another 6 inch worms, then 7 jumping squats etc.
Compare your times to get an idea of how you did!
Beginner - a beginner will do well to finish inside 20 minutes
Intermediate - someone with intermediate fitness would do well to finish between 10-15 minutes
Advanced - someone who trains regularly should be able to complete this workout in under 10 minutes
Elite - an elite athlete should be able to complete this circuit in under 5 minutes
The energy and excitement of making new year's resolutions and getting fit is well and truly burnt out and the gym is starting to empty out again. How can you stay motivated when all you want to do is melt into the sofa and eat? We're here to help. Follow these tips to boost your motivation when it feels like there's no hope.
1. Partner up
If you have someone to let down, you'll be less likely to flake. Having accountability means you have more of a reason to get to the gym and it will be more hassle to have to text your friend or personal trainer to say you're not going and then get an earful from then than to just go. Plus, you'll know that once you're there you'll have a great time because training with a buddy makes training more bearable.
2. Get changed
How many times have you been sat on the sofa watching TV after work telling yourself "I'll go in a minute" or "I'll go when this show is finished" and then it never happens? By getting changed into your activewear you're getting the ball rolling and getting into the right frame of mind to work out. Once you're changed into your sportswear you're already halfway there and will be much more ready to get out there and go train.
3. Take your gym gear to work
If you go to the gym straight from work, you won't have a chance to talk yourself out of it. If you pair this with point number 1 of partnering up and telling your friend you'll join them at the gym, you'll be well on your way to success. Get changed at work and go straight to the gym instead of going home first. It's much harder to gee yourself back up once you're home from work than if you continue the momentum from your day at the office.
4. Have a workout to look forward to
There's nothing worse than finishing a monotonous day at work and thinking about now having to go and run on a treadmill for half an hour while staring at a wall. By planning out a fun and exciting workout, you'll actually want to go to the gym and do it. Try circuit training or functional training to mix things up and talk to a personal trainer if you'd like to try something new like Olympic weightlifting or CrossFit. If you're dreading the workout, getting motivated can be impossible. Whereas if you're actually looking forward to it, exercising can be a joy instead of a chore. If you enjoy something like Zumba, sign up for a class! Group exercise can be a great way to stay motivated too.
5. Use the 10 second rule
If you find yourself making terrible excuses like "it's raining" or "I'm too tired" then use the 10 second rule. It's very simple: count to 10 and then go anyway! This will eliminate your mind telling you that you can't do it and 9 times out of 10 you'll find that you actually enjoy the workout and will be pleased that you went.
Articles related to getting motivated:
It can be hard to stay motivated when running solo. Cold winters, shin splints, boring playlists... sometimes getting up and out can be the hardest part. So what about joining a running club? Have you ever thought about it? What are the benefits, and are there any drawbacks?
Running alone can be dreadfully lonely, especially on the long winter nights when you find yourself plodding along for 10 miserable miles. But who said running has to be boring? If you join a running club, you'll be among like-minded people who may be training for a specific event or just out for a fun jog with their friends. You'll meet people from your town who you may never have met otherwise, so it's a great opportunity to make friends.
There's been countless times that I've set out for a run but ended up turning back after only a mile or two because it's too cold or I'm too tired or my legs hurt too much. But if you're running with a club, there is much more motivation to keep going. You can chat to your running buddies to keep your mind occupied and you can explore new routes, which will be covered in the next point.
When I run, I'm very guilty of always going the same way, which can get very boring after a while. I'm not very adventurous with my runs because I'm never too sure of where will be safe to run, or if the route will even have pavement the whole way along. I certainly never bother to drive out to a run location; I always start and finish at home. But by joining a running club you will be encouraged to try new routes that you would never have even dreamt of before. The best part is that the distance will already be tried and tested so all you will have to do is turn up and run! You may experience runs through woodlands or off-road for the first time which is a great added bonus.
Safety In Numbers
Running alone, especially in the evening, can feel a little unsafe. Running with a club means you will be a lot safer in all aspects as there will be so many people running alongside you. Traffic is also more likely to stop to let you cross the road if there is a large number of you, so your run will be less interrupted if you are running on busy streets or in a city.
Doors to other events
Before I joined a running club, I never even thought about running a race or joining the local Parkrun. By being a member of a club, you will end up being motivated to train for events such as 10ks and half marathons, which are always more enjoyable when you have comrades to cheer you on. Feeling part of a team is a fantastic feeling.
Choosing the right club
There may well be more than one running club in your town or city, so choosing the right one is fairly important as they are not all the same. In my town for example, we have one club which is free of charge to be a member of and it is very much a relaxed group of people who love to run for fun and eat cake afterwards! There is another club which is on the other end of the spectrum, who take running very seriously, so they motivate each other in a very different way. This club has an annual fee, however being an affiliated club means you get cheaper entry to races so after a while your fee should pay for itself. Run Together has a list of nationwide running clubs, or doing a simple Google search will provide you with local clubs around you.
If you don't feel ready to join a run club just yet, why not try Parkrun? This weekly event is a 5k run held in your local park (you can find your closest Parkrun here) It is a growing community, with hundreds of participants showing up each week at each location! It is completely free of charge and you can be of any ability, many people just walk the course. It's great for those trying to improve their running as it is chip timed so you get an official finish time every time you turn up and run. The atmosphere is incredibly supportive and it will allow you to meet like-minded people from your local area who are all there for the same reason - to get fit and enjoy the process!
So what are you waiting for! Let's get running!