We're starting a new series called "What You DON'T Have to do to be Healthy." And it's just that - things you can scratch off your most-dreaded list when it comes to going to the gym, eating healthfully and living the good life.
First up, cardio!
We're not saying you shouldn't do cardio at all - cardio is good for heart health. But what you don't have to do to is spend an hour on one machine (or several), waiting for the clock to count down to zero. In fact, spending an hour, or even 30 minutes, on one machine at the same pace is a complete waste of time.
Your heart is a muscle just like any other muscle in your body - you have to put it under (good) stress to make it stronger.
When you do steady-state cardio and the resistance and your effort are steady throughout the entire workout, the heart muscle adapts very quickly and doesn't have to work very hard. You might see some improvement in your heart health at the initial outset of a steady-state cardio routine, but it quickly diminishes, especially if you're doing the same steady-state you did 3 years ago.
What to do?
Simple. Cut your cardio time in half or even 1/4 (yes, really!) and add in interval sprints. Alternate between very high and lower effort every 30 seconds to 1 minute, eventually decreasing the recovery periods and increasing the sprint time (and resistance!)
The great news is you will end up burning the same amount of calories in 30 minutes that you would in 1 hour, PLUS you'll burn more calories after your workout is over. Bonus.
How do you know if your heart is getting stronger?
The best way to tell is by your heart's recovery after a really intense sprint. If your recovery heart rate is 120 bpm, you get your heart rate up to 170 bpm during a sprint and it takes about 30 seconds for your heart rate to go back to 120 bpm after a sprint, you're in business!
Need help coming up with your own quicky-cardio routine? Give us a shout!