Last month, we learned a few ways to change up our resistance training to add variety and intensity to our workouts–and, of course, to become more fit! In honor of Heart Month, let’s now shift gears to cardiorespiratory training and see how we can amp up our cardio!
Regular cardiorespiratory exercise is incredibly important for our health and longevity. Not only does it allow us to keep up with the demands on daily life, but it also wards off a whole host of chronic diseases. The American Heart Association (AHA) and American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommend at least 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic exercise (blue and green zones with your MYZONE fitness tracker) or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic exercise (yellow and red zones with your MYZONE fitness tracker), or a combination of the two.
So how can we achieve these guidelines and keep our cardio routine fresh and effective? Here are some tips to try for your next few workouts…
Add Some Intervals
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a calorie-scorching, MEP-earning exercise modality and one of the top 10 fitness trends for 2016, according to this ACSM survey. HIIT training involves alternating between periods of work (yellow or red zones) and periods of recovery (yellow, green, or even blue zones). It is increasingly popular for its acute and long-term effects – high caloric expenditure in a single workout session, increased aerobic fitness, and improved fat metabolism.
HIIT training is also the perfect way to keep your workouts new and exciting. It can be done with just about every type of exercise – from traditional cardio modalities to bodyweight exercises to resistance training – and you can vary the work-to-rest ratio whenever you like! As you become more aerobically fit, you will be able to perform HIIT training with more intense work periods and shorter recovery periods. To learn more about interval training, check out this post.
Incorporate Resistance Training
Gone are the days when getting a good cardio workout meant you had to spend an hour jogging on a treadmill (you can still do that, but there are a lot of other options, too!). Training your cardiorespiratory system isn’t about performing one type of exercise using only your bodyweight for an extended period of time – it’s about placing a stressor on your heart and lungs that causes long-term changes in how these organs function.
We can easily adjust our resistance training routine to improve our aerobic fitness over time. In general, decreasing the amount of rest between sets will increase the stress on our cardiorespiratory system. Instead of doing one set of an exercise and then resting for several minutes, try performing another exercise immediately afterward (a superset), or combine multiple exercises into a circuit with minimal rest. Not only will you be gaining some strength; you’ll be getting your heart rate up, burning fat and adding variety into your routine!
*Keep in mind that minimal rest means that we shouldn’t be lifting quite as heavy as we could with longer rest periods. Depending on your rest period, you should see your heart rate oscillate between the blue and yellow zones (for recovery and work periods, respectively), or even remain elevated in a moderate zone (around green) when performing circuit training.
Find a New Route
Have you ever found an awesome running or biking route that was really motivating at first…but now you’re bored and feel incapable of breaking your routine? We’ve all been there! To be fit for life, we have to exercise regularly, which means there’s always potential for us to get stuck in monotony and lose interest.
This month, challenge yourself to explore a new route. You can take a different turn on your normal path or exercise at a park or beach. Plan your route so that you have something interesting to look at when your workout is most challenging – even people-watching can be a great option. Some of our best workouts happen when we get a little lost and have to push ourselves that much farther!
*After you try a new route, be sure to compare the Activity Reports of your workouts on the old and new route to see if your heart rate responded differently to a change in routine. Perhaps your new route is longer, has more hills, or motivates you to move a little faster.
Use Your MYZONE App and Watch
The MYZONE app and watch provide us with instantaneous feedback about exercise intensity–what could be more motivating?! Whether you’re in the gym or outside, you can easily set up your smartphone to display your Effort Stream during your workout, and you can always wear your watch while you exercise.
Immediate feedback allows us to decipher how our bodies respond to various exercises, giving us the opportunity to modify our routines. Tracking our heart rate in this way can become a sort of game as we try to make our workouts more effective. For example, you can use your MYZONE Effort Stream or MYZONE Watch during a HIIT session to select a certain heart rate zone or % of max heart rate that you want to achieve during your work sets. If you achieve your goal, you win! If you come up short, go another round.
*Be sure to have access to your Effort Stream and watch during your cardio workouts. While your heart rate will vary depending on the activity you’re performing and on your workload, real-time data of your exercise will ensure that your exercise sessions are effective and intense, as well as safe.
For more tips on how to use your MYZONE fitness tracker in your training program, follow our MYZONE Master Trainers on our Fitness Friday Periscope broadcast every Friday at 11 am EST/8 am PST.
We want to know how your cardio is coming along! Share how you’re amping up your 2016 cardio workouts by using the hashtags #myzone, #myzonemoves, and #effortrewarded when you post to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!
Keep moving forward!