Summer is just around the corner: what better time to get in the best shape of your life? A balance of resistance training and cardio is sure to help deliver a summer-ready body! And cardio is an important piece of that puzzle.
Cardio not only gives you health and psychological benefits, it adds to the body’s fat burning efficiency and can help deliver the all-round toned and trim body you desire.
Spoiler alert: You won’t have to spend hours upon hours at the gym on your treadmill to see results!RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
To be considered an aerobic cardio activity, you must be moving large muscle groups continuously.
This can include many activities, including: rowing, cycling, running, walking, riding an elliptical, swimming or climbing the stairs. What you choose to do for cardio is really up to you. The key to a good cardio program is finding an activity that you enjoy.
This will inspire you to keep going and stay motivated as you make your way to the summer body you dream of.
Cardio activity can be further divided by intensity.
Low intensity cardio will elevate your heartrate slightly. You should be able to hold a conversation while completing low intensity cardio activities, such as walking.
Low intensity cardio will give you health benefits and is great for an active recovery day, however for fat burning benefits, it is not the most effective use of your time.
For maximum fat burn, moderate and high intensity cardio will be more beneficial. During moderate intensity activity, having a conversation will be a bit more challenging.
During high intensity exercise, you shouldn’t be able to say more than one or two words without stopping to catch your breath. In terms of caloric burn, high intensity cardio is going to burn the most calories. However, to avoid overtraining, it will be important to alternate your high intensity cardio days with lower intensities.
On your high intensity days, interval training—alternating high intensity bursts with periods of recovery—will be the most effective use of your time. It also takes time to build endurance for intervals, so if you are just beginning an exercise program, allow yourself a few weeks in low to moderate exercise before you try higher intensity intervals!
To be truly effective, cardio should be done on most days of the week in some form.
As discussed earlier, high intensity exercise burns more calories (helping you torch that stubborn fat quickly), however it needs to be used only a couple of times per week to avoid overtraining.
Therefore, if you are completing cardio 4 days per week, two days would be high intensity and two days would be low or moderate intensity.
What time of day you do cardio is also really up to you. You need to find what time of day works best for you. Some people respond really well to early morning exercise—it helps to energize them for their day.
If you are a morning person, however, and you are too tired to get an effective workout in the morning, that time of day may not be best for you!
Late evenings workouts also help some people sleep better, but may also keep you awake.
Need an afternoon pick me up? Try doing cardio on your lunch break! The key to fat burn cardio being effective is consistency: you need to find the time that works for you, then do it consistently to burn fat efficiently and quickly.
Alright, here’s the really exciting news: you don’t have to spend hours on the treadmill or pounding the pavement to see results.
The higher the intensity of the activity, the less time you actually have to spend doing cardio. You should plan to spend between 20 and 40 minutes doing cardio each session.
Keep in mind, it is important to get a sufficient warm up prior to beginning higher intensity cardio and a 5-10 minute cool down after cardio to bring your body back to normal.
Here’s an example of a four week fat-blasting cardio program workout just in time to get you ripped for summer!
|Week 1||Intensity: Moderate||Intensity: high, intervals||Intensity: Moderate||Intensity: high, intervals|
|Duration: 30 minutes||Duration: 20 minutes||Duration: 30 minutes||Duration: 20 minutes|
|Mode*: treadmill||Mode: sprinting on treadmill||Mode: elliptical||Mode: stairs|
|Week 2||Intensity: Moderate||Intensity: high, intervals||Intensity: Moderate||Intensity: high, intervals|
|Duration: 30 minutes||Duration: 20 minutes||Duration: 35 minutes||Duration: 25 minutes|
|Mode: elliptical||Mode: cycling||Mode: treadmill||Mode: swimming|
|Week 3||Intensity: Moderate||Intensity: high, intervals||Intensity: Moderate||Intensity: high, intervals|
|Duration: 35 minutes||Duration: 25 minutes||Duration: 35 minutes||Duration: 25 minutes|
|Mode: elliptical||Mode: hills (treadmill or outside)||Mode: cycling||Mode: stairs|
|Week 4||Intensity: Moderate||Intensity: high, intervals||Intensity: Moderate||Intensity: high, intervals|
|Duration: 40 minutes||Duration: 25 minutes||Duration: 40 minutes||Duration: 30 minutes|
|Mode: treadmill||Mode: rower||Mode: elliptical||Mode: cycling|
*Feel free to switch modes if you do not like the mode chosen here! Just be sure you do the correct intensity and push yourself!
I hope you enjoy this fat blasting cardio workout to get you ripped! Be sure to leave your questions or comments below!