Ah, cardio….. either we love you, or we hate you.  Most people think that cardio refers to slogging endless miles on a treadmill or riding on the elliptical machine in the “fantasy” fat-burning zone.  The truth of the matter is, many people are forgetting why we do cardiovascular exercise in the first place.  The prefix cardio, refers to your heart and vascular, your blood vessels. So, pretty much before we became cardio-cupcakes, people actually did cardio to strengthen their heart and blood vessels.

What is cardio?

“For the record, cardio exercise simply means that you’re doing a rhythmic activity that raises your heart rate into your  Target Heart Rate Zone, the zone where you’ll burn fat and calories.”(1) It wasn’t too long ago, when we actually thought that if we worked in the fat burning zone, hello 220-your age, multiplied by 45- 60% and then sustain this for a un-godly amount of time, we would be skinny minnies.

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In addition, you must also only eat fat free foods. Remember this? And what did this produce, the age of the “skinny fat” person.  Not to stand on my soap box or anything here, but when you are in your early twenties, you can ALMOST out-exercise a bad diet……ALMOST! However, by the time you get into your late twenties to early thirties, forget it…..you could look at a fat-free bread, fat-free cheese and mayo sandwich and gain 15 pounds.

Another commonality as we get older, is lack of time. Granted, we all have the same amount of time, but once we have careers, significant others and children, the time for working out seems to vanish.  POOF! So, we look for answers, answers on how to look better faster.  How much can I eat/drink/sleep etc and still get away with it?

short cardio workouts_02

Enter short cardio workouts?

Can they really get you into shape? For those who are pressed for time, the best case scenario, is getting your cardio through either interval training, high intensity interval training (HIIT) or Tabata. This training doesn’t have to be on the “dreadmill” or the elliptical. You can actually, GASP!!!!!! get all the cardio you need from lifting weights. Remember, if we go back to the old adage of what and why we do cardio, we know that it is to strengthen our heart by challenging it and raising our heart rate.

You can do tabata on the treadmill (read: 20 seconds of work, followed by 10 sec of rest, 8 times through), the rowing machine, or with weights, just to name a few.  Have you ever tried doing 20 squats, 10 burpees, 10 pushups, 20 jump squats and then repeat? Guess what is happening there? You are taxing your cardiovascular system far more than walking on an incline on the treadmill for 90 minutes.

Crossfit, Bootcamps, Shred, Insanity, P90X, and T25 are all ways to get not only cardio benefits, but to build strength, as well. These workouts that contain both cardio and weight training are called concurrent training,   When you do crossfit, some workouts are as a quick as 20 minutes. So, the workouts don’t have to be long and arduous.

They just have to be dedicated to what goals you are looking to achieve.  A study done by Peter Lemon, PhD, found that people who performed four to six 30 second sprints lost twice as much bodyfat as people who performed low intensity for 30-60 minutes. (2) Wouldn’t you rather spend that extra time with your family, reading a book, or reading your favorite fitness site, WATCHFIT? I know I sure would.

Hugs and Health!

concurrent training

  1. http://exercise.about.com/cs/cardioworkouts/a/cardio101.htm

  2. http://www.schwarzenegger.com/fitness/post/best-damn-cardio-humanly-possible-in-15-minutes

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