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Achieving fitness goals through cardio workouts is a great way to stay healthy and in shape. Cardiovascular exercises do a body good by working to raise your heart rate and help you burn calories. However, if you’re guilty of committing some of these common cardio crimes, you may be undermining your efforts and putting your body at risk of injury. Take a look to see if you’re guilty of any of these mistakes, and learn how to change your habits so you can get the most out of your cardio workouts.

1. Long and Steady

A major cardio crime that many people including my girl friend Tashina Hill make is thinking that a long workout at a low intensity, steady pace will burn the most calories. When it comes to cardio (and fitness in general) smarter and harder trumps longer. Doing long cardio workouts a low intensity doesn’t get your heart rate high enough to be as effective as a more intense workout. You will tire yourself out for no reason running slowly on the treadmill for 45 minutes. Instead, try higher intensity workouts that will take you less time and maximize your efforts. In terms of exercise, high intensity interval training (HIIT) will help you burn fat and get in shape quicker, in a shorter amount of time.

2. Doing the Same Thing

We all have preferences when it comes to the workouts we like best; but a major cardio crime is performing the same kind of cardio endlessly. Whether you prefer running, biking or taking Zumba classes, enjoying your workout is key to sticking to healthy fitness habits, but these cardio routines will soon become ineffective if you continue to do them over and over. It is important to vary your workouts by mixing up your methodical approach as often as possible. Changing up your workout routine here and there will help you prevent getting injured or over-training certain areas.

3. Doing Only Cardio

Its a common misconception that doing cardio workouts is the only way to burn calories and lose weight. While cardio exercises are very important for burning calories as well as keeping your heart and body healthy overall, you should include other forms of fitness as well. At the very least you should include one or two days of cross training to your existing cardio program to prevent plateauing and to help make your body stronger. Doing endless cardio hoping for results will not get you as far as mixing up your workouts and incorporating some strength training as well.

4. Not Drinking Water

This is a common health and fitness mistake made across the board; not just in relation to cardio. Hydration is key in maintaining proper health and bodily functions, but is especially important when you are doing cardio for fitness. We lose a lot of nutrients through sweat during working out, and its a common cardio crime for people to fail at hydrating their body before, during and after a workout. If you’re doing cardio right, you’re going to sweat. Make sure you are replacing those fluids by sipping on water throughout the day as well as throughout your workout.

5. Improper Form

If you use cardio machines at the gym or at home for your workouts, you may be committing this common cardio crime. A lot of people may not even realize that leaning on the machine or gripping the handle bars can decrease the effectiveness of your workout. Lightly gripping the sides or handles of the console can help with balance, but if you rely too much on leaning your weight onto the handles you’ll burn fewer calories and decrease your workout intensity. If you feel tired or that you cannot keep up with the pace, slow down or let up on the intensity instead of leaning.

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