Regular exercisers often feel psychological benefits from cardiovascular exercise.  Often, my clients have reported having more energy throughout the day, better sleep, less stress and generally feeling “better”.  That being said, it can often be difficult to find the motivation (especially in the winter, when days are shorter and it’s colder outside) to get to the gym and get your cardio on.  I’ve set out to create a fat burning cardio workout that will make your day.  I want you to be excited to work out and the results you crave, even with everything you have going on each day.  This workout is geared to do just that.

Since everyone’s schedule is different, I’ve created three options for you to choose from, depending on how much time you have.  No equipment or a gym membership?  No problem- I’ve also tailored some of the workouts for in-home use.  That means no excuses–these workouts will fit into your day and make your day, no matter how much time or equipment you have.

Although you won’t need any equipment for some of these workouts, you may want to have a few things handy—like a watch or stopwatch and some of your favorite music to help push you.  The workouts are going to be interval based, so you will need to track your work and rest time intervals, and the music is meant to motivate you to keep moving!  Be sure you pick some upbeat songs to help you get through those tough intervals.

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Sine these workouts are meant to be intense, they can be completed up to 3 times per week.  On the off days, you can do resistance training or additional (non-interval) cardio workouts.

Workout 1: 20 Minute, No Equipment Needed

0:00-1:00 Mountain climbers
1:00-2:00 Walk, march, or jog in place
2:00-3:00 Jumping Jacks
3:00-4:00 Walk, march, or jog in place
4:00-5:00 Jump squats
5:00-6:00 Walk, march, or jog in place
6:00-7:00 High knees
7:00-8:00 Walk, march, or jog in place
8:00-9:00 Butt Kicks
9:00-10:00 Walk, march, or jog in place
10:00-11:00 Jumping Rope (or mimicking jumping rope with no rope)
11:00-12:00 Walk, march, or jog in place
12:00-13:00 Burpees
13:00-14:00 Walk, march, or jog in place
14:00-15:00 Jumping lunges
15:00-16:00 Walk, march, or jog in place
16:00-17:00 High knees
17:00-18:00 Walk, march, or jog in place
18:00-19:00 Butt Kicks
19:00-20:00 Walk, march, or jog in place

This workout—even though it’s 20 minutes—should leave you breathless.  As you get fit, this workout will start to feel easier and you will feel less out of breath at the end.  When you feel less out of breath after this workout, decrease the amount of “active rest” (your walking or marching intervals) or increase the amount of time in your “work” intervals.  This will take the workout up a notch.

fat burning cardio workout_2

Workout #2: 30 minute Stair Mill Workout

The stair mill can be a very effective workout, and when used correctly, results can be seen relatively quickly.  This workout will help you feel energized for your day, whether you can fit it in before work or after.  One word of caution: be sure not to lean your body weight on the hand rails.  This puts more strain on your upper body and will actually decrease the intensity of the movement.

0:00-5:00 Warm up—go at a slower pace and allow yourself to get ready for the more intense exercise
5:00-6:00 Interval I—increase speed of the stair mill to a speed in which it is difficult for you to maintain
6:00-8:00 Active Rest—Decrease speed of stair mill to allow your heart rate to drop slightly, but enough to allow you to recover
8:00-9:00 Interval I
9:00-11:00 Active Rest
11:00-12:00 Interval I
12:00-14:00 Active Rest
14:00-15:00 Interval I
15:00-17:00 Active Rest
17:00-18:00 Interval I
18:00-19:00 Active Rest
19:00-20:00 Interval I
20:00-22:00 Active Rest
22:00-23:00 Interval I
23:00-25:00 Active Rest
25:00-30:00 Cool Down—Allow your heart rate to return back to normal levels. You can also slowly walk on a treadmill, if available.

Workout #3 Running (40 minutes)

This running workout is designed to assist you in burning fat and gaining energy to help you feel better throughout the day.  This running workout can be completed outside or on a treadmill, whichever you prefer!  Make sure you are pushing yourself during this workout to get the most out of your time.

0:00-5:00 Warm up—walk or jog at 50% intensity. Allow your body to slowly adjust to the increased intensity.
5:00-6:00 70% effort—increase your intensity to about 70% your maximum. (You should begin to feel out of breath towards the end of the minute)
6:00-7:00 60% effort—decrease your intensity and allow yourself to recover
7:00-8:00 80% effort
8:00-9:00 60% effort—decrease your intensity and allow yourself to recover
9:00-10:00 90% effort
10:00-11:00 60% effort
11:00-11:30 100% Sprint
11:30-13:00 60% effort—allow yourself a little more time to recover in between sets
Repeat minutes 5:00-13:00 three times before cooling down for at least 5 minutes.

Of course, long, slow distance running can also help to energize you and make your day.  To reap the best benefits of cardiovascular exercise, the CDC recommends a minimum of 30 minutes per day, five days per week of moderate level intensity exercise (http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/adults.html).  For the more vigorous workouts (like these interval workouts), twenty five minutes three times per week will meet the recommended minimum (http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/adults.html).

For best results, complete a combination of the above workouts and moderate cardiovascular activity that you enjoy (hiking, walking, or swimming).  A combination of moderate and vigorous cardiovascular workouts will have you feeling better and more energized in no time!

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