There's no denying that for some people, cardio is downright miserable. But those seemingly endless miles on the treadmill or pavement can benefit both your physique and your overall health. And when you're trying to lose fat and get shredded, any bodybuilder will tell you that some form of cardio is a must. The good news is that there are ways to maximize your time on your preferred piece of cardio equipment.
With these eight tips, you can get the most out of those minutes and make progress faster.
1. Burn It Up
This helps you with the simple philosophy behind fat loss: Burn more calories than you take in. If your goal is fat loss, incorporate 4-6, 30 to 60 minute cardio sessions per week into your training schedule.
2. Run Hungry
If you can stomach getting up earlier, perform cardio before your first meal of the day. Your body is most likely to use fat as the first energy source because your glycogen stores are depleted. If you’re concerned with muscle loss, take 10-20 grams of whey protein before your session, but stay away from carbs.
3. Post-Cardio Burn
Following aerobic exercise, your resting metabolic rate remains elevated for anywhere from 60 minutes to about 12 hours, depending on the intensity and duration of the exercise session.
4. Move Outdoors
Try your next outdoor run on sand, which is more difficult than running on harder surfaces like cement. It’s easier on the joints as well, but wear shoes to avoid stress fractures and protect your feet from glass. Running on grass is also a welcome relief to joints and arches.
5. Taper Off
Instead of starting slow and building up speed, do your high-intensity cardio early in your workout and taper off to a slow finish to burn significantly more fat. After a 2-3-minute warm-up, immediately kick it into high gear (80%-85% max heart rate) for 15-20 minutes before slowing down (60%-65% max heart rate) for the last 10-20 minutes.
6. Interval for Success
Unless you’re a highly conditioned athlete, you can’t maintain a very intense pace for very long, so the best way to improve your aerobic fitness and burn fat is with intervals. That is, you alternate very intense periods of work with lower-intensity sessions in which you recover.
7. Pre-Workout Cardio
Perform 5-10 minutes of cardio before you begin your weight-training sessions. This helps get your muscles warm for the work ahead, and it can burn an additional 50-150 calories, depending on intensity.
8. Post-Workout Cardio
If your goal is to lean out, follow your weight training with cardio. Since lifting depletes glycogen stores, your body is more likely to use fat as its first fuel source during cardio. Also, the combination of the two results in a higher caloric burn post-workout.
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