Cardio Fitness

The Ultimate Cardio Workout Program

Written by drtweedt

Cardio is an important part of any exercise routine. Not only does it burn more calories than strength training, but it also strengthens your heart, improves your endurance, and can even help to combat depression. Designing a cardio workout program isn’t necessarily easy, however; you need to be able to transition between exercises easily if performing multiple exercises in one session, and if you’re not careful then you can overdo it and potentially injure yourself. If you’re looking for the ultimate cardio workout, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Build Over Time
If you’re not used to doing cardio, it’s important to start slow and increase the intensity of your workout over time. Even if you do have some cardio experience, you still don’t need to jump right in at full intensity. Increasing the intensity of your workouts over time lets your body better acclimate to your routine and also ensures that you don’t hit a plateau because your body has simply become used to what you’re doing. Mixing things up, hiking up the intensity every few weeks and adding new exercises periodically will ensure that your cardio program keeps working as time goes by.
Establish a Routine
The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week for the average adult. While this might sound like a lot, it doesn’t have to come all at once; this breaks down fairly easily into 30 minutes of moderate cardio, five days per week or 25 minutes of intense cardio three days per week. You can break it down further if you need to, so long as you’re getting at least 10 to 15 minutes of cardio at a time. Establishing a regular schedule will help you to keep getting your exercise because it will simply become habitual.
Monitor Your Heart Rate
A heart rate monitor can be very useful when starting a cardio workout program. Not only will it help you to avoid overdoing your workout and potentially risking injury, but it will also help your workout to reach its peak efficiency. Subtract your age from 220 to estimate your optimal heart rate, and then use your monitor to try and stay at around 50% of that optimal rate while you establish a cardio routine. Once you’re getting used to doing cardio, start shooting for 75% of the optimal to get the most out of your workouts.
Warm Up, Cool Down
Cardio is meant to push you toward your limits, elevating your heart rate and making your muscles work over an extended period of time. Your body isn’t necessarily ready to just start and stop that level of intensity without warning, however. Though warm-ups, cool-downs, and stretches may seem unnecessary, especially if you’re already in decent shape, they play important parts in injury prevention and muscle preparation. Stretch for five minutes to prepare your ligaments for your cardio routine, then warm up for at least five minutes to get your muscles working and heart pumping. Once you’re done, cool down for at least five minutes to let your heart rate gradually approach normal and to literally cool your muscles down and flush lactic acid out of them.

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