Five Effective Weekly Cardio Workouts
Cardio is an essential part of a healthy workout regimen if your goal is to burn some unwanted fat. One of the questions I get asked often is – “How much cardio do you do”? On off-season I usually about 20-30 minutes of cardio 3-4 days a week and if I’m preparing for a competition, I will kick it up to 30-60 minute sessions about 5-6 days a week. These sessions can be time consuming, so I only do cardio workouts that are intense and give me the best results in the least amount of time.
Here are 5 effective cardio workouts that I do weekly:
1. THE STAIRMASTER
Make sure and bring a towel to this session – it will have you sweating for sure! Cardio on the Stairmaster is one of my favorites because it gets your heart pumping and you can feel the focus on the glutes and thighs. A 20-30 minute session will burn plenty of calories and help you shred that unwanted fat.
There’s a reason why Olympic swimmers intake a rumored 8,000-12,000 calories a day – because swimming is a killer workout that burns tons of calories. When your entire body is emerged in the water, there is always a constant resistance. Swim some laps back and forth in the pool, get your heart rate up, rest for a minute or two, and then increase your heart rate again. You can even use a floating kickboard if you’re more comfortable holding onto something.
Running outdoors or on the treadmill is always a good cardio option. Slower, long distance running is great if you have time, but if you’re trying to get in an intense session in a short amount of time, then High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T.) is the way to go. When I do H.I.I.T., I will usually sprint for about one minute, pushing my body as hard as I can, and then slow down to a jog or walk to catch my breath for a minute or two and then sprint again, continuing these intervals for about 20-30 minutes.
Plyometrics, or “jump” training, is a fun way to change up your cardio sessions. This type of cardio includes explosive type movements that really “shock” the body because you’re landing on the ground, then quickly exploding back up. When I do plyo’s, I usually select about 4-6 different exercises and do 3-4 sets of each with 10-12 reps per set. Some of my favorites are burpees, jump squats, long distance jumps, tuck jumps, box jumps, and mountain climbers.
5. INCLINE WALKING
Don’t underestimate the power of walking! Walking a mile on the treadmill at a maximum incline is more rigorous than running a mile with no incline. Try a 20-30 minute session and constantly switch it up – walk slowly with a high incline for a few minutes, then decrease the incline and increase to a swifter pace, then repeat.
We’re all at different fitness levels, so if you’re a beginner, I recommend doing a few minutes of cardio and then adding a minute or two each session. Also, don’t be afraid to switch up your cardio during a session – if you find yourself getting bored on the Stairmaster after a few minutes, then switch to the treadmill for some high incline walking. It’s also important to remember that cardio alone will not give you the optimal results you want, you also have to weight train and fuel your body with healthy foods – these three practices are the secret recipe for changing your body!
About the Author: Lauren Felton is a mommy to two sweet babies, wife, professional business woman, and a nationally qualified NPC athlete. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in industrial-organizational psychology.
Lauren is passionate about fitness and enjoys educating others on how to successfully balance family, a career and a healthy lifestyle. She has many healthy tips and recipes to share, especially some great ideas to help save time for fitness lovers on the go!