Authors: huffingtonpost fitness
By Joe Vennare
Love it or hate it, cardio workouts are essential to overall health and critical for athletic performance. Fortunately, getting a killer cardio workout doesn’t have to mean suffering through mile after mile on the track or trail. Check out these scientifically-backed tips to hack your workout and start seeing results -- fast.
Up And Running -- Your Action Plan
A typical cardio workout elevates the heart rate, helps improve lung efficiency, and burns a whole lot of calories and fat. And the good news is there are ways to get even more out of that workout. In addition to the non-negotiables (read: proper workout nutrition and hydration, along with a solid warm-up and cool down), here are 17 ways to get to work -- and see better results than ever.
With all these cardio workouts to choose from, it might be possible to overdo it. Don't get carried away. Instead, take 24-48 hours off before training the same muscle groups. Make time to foam roll key areas like the hamstrings, quads, calves, groin and back. The payoff: better recovery, increased muscle growth and being better prepared for that next workout.
How do you push the limits of your cardio workouts? Tell us in the comments.
Just Let Go
Of the handrail that is. Holding onto the side of the treadmill does more harm than good. A surefire way to sabotage a workout, gripping the rails decreases energy output and oxygen consumption, significantly reducing the effectiveness of a workout. Go hands free then pump the arms from waist to chest, not across the body (which can slow you down).
If the treadmill isn't getting the job done, head for the great outdoors. Trail running, mountain biking, or even open water swimming can add variety to boring routine. Bonus: Uneven ground like sand or rocks require balance, athleticism and agility to navigate the rugged terrain. Not up for all the impact? Mix things up (while giving those joints a break) with alternative machines like the StairMaster, elliptical, or rowing machine.
Grab the bell by the horns, or handle. Kettlebell training has been shown to provide greater cardiovascular benefits than traditional weight training methods. With only one piece of equipment it’s possible to improve oxygen uptake (or VO2 max), max heart rate, and functional performance. Start with the two-hand kettlebell swings and progress to the single arm snatch for better results in less time.
Create a circuit training workout that stacks up a fast-paced combination of bodyweight and cardio-based exercises. By pairing resistance training with high-intensity aerobic moves back-to-back (think jump squats, burpees and mountain climbers), the body will achieve results fast -- including building muscle and burning fat.
Maybe it's adding a weighted vest. Or carrying a case of beer (post-workout of course!) to the other side of campus. Either way, carrying additional weight while walking, running, or during daily activities has been shown to improve intensity, recovery, and recruitment of fast twitch muscle fibers (the ones that make us faster). Just be sure to keep an eye on mechanics -- even a few extra lbs can make it difficult to maintain good form, Sulaver says.
The trick to running a faster 5K or finding the motivation to HIIT the gym could be one mouse click away. There really is an app for everything, fitness included. No smart phone? No problem. Pick up a heart rate monitor, and consider a GPS feature that will track distance, pace, and the number of calories burned during a run.