It’s Friday morning…
Just after 8am, on a cool, brisk morning in Los Angeles.
For any Angeleno, anything below 65 degrees is like complete winter. On this day, it was about 55-58 degrees in the morning.
Regardless of the weather, I had one goal in mind…
Take to Kenneth Hahn Park, and go for a run in the great outdoors.
Today was rather different than the last few days – and even months or weeks for me, for that matter.
I have finally come to the conclusion that in order for me to get to where I want to be physically, I need to kick up the cardio again and get it back into my routine. And honestly… I was kind of dreading it.
Up to this point, I started to notice that I’ve been winded in the gym while lifting and really exerting myself. Some of that I think I narrowed down to it being a symptom of low iron levels (I have a history of anemia), but I knew as well that my cardiovascular activity has been next to nil – and that it was really starting to effect my workouts on the whole.
But I’ll tell you what…
I REALLY did not want to spend minutes upon minutes doing a typical cardio workout in the gym. All my life I’ve been an athlete. I used to run, both outdoors and on the track. I used to dance every single day of my life for a better portion of 30 years. But here I was, doing NONE of that, yet knowing that something had to give…
And that’s when it came to me! I could still do all of that – and love the fact that I’m doing cardio.
So the stage had been set. Friday morning came around and I geared up to brave the cold morning to head out for my run. One of my absolute FAVORITE things to wear to stay warm, while still wearing as little as possible (I like to feel LIGHT as I run), is my Under Armour Compression Shirt. I pulled that baby out of the back of my workout drawer, grabbed my Nike kicks, powered up my phone for my music, and went on my way to the park.
Taking to the outdoors leaves me feeling completely invigorated, alive, and simply…
It’s like I can do it for a full hour and not even notice it. I do have to admit that during this run, I was a little slower than I used to be when I ran consistently.
I have a crazy habit of wanting to race people who run near me. It’s the competitor in me, I simply cannot help it! It’s like when people pass me I give a serious side eye in my head and scream “SOOOOOOO” in there as well. This time, my ego has been squelched, and I basically just paid attention to me.
I’m not sure of the total distance I went, I just simply followed my typical path that I’ve done so many times in the past. Enjoying every step, stride, beat of my heart, and breath dancing in the cool air.
And from that moment forward, I vowed to make this personal date for myself once a week.
But, there’s another side to this story as well… I started taking up ballet once again, which has always been my first love when it comes to dance. It has been a few years since I stepped into the studio, but you know as they say… It’s almost like riding a bike, you simply never forget.
Now, my legs don’t go as high as they used to. My flexibility has been compromised from the muscle I’ve put on over the last 5 years of bodybuilding, but hey… I STILL GOT IT! I can still throw down in the studio the same way I had a few years ago when I did so professionally from New York to LA. And that felt amazing. It has led to me now taking class about 2 or 3 times a week as a part of my regime.
The rest of the days where I am actually in the gym, I started to add some HIIT cardio for about 20 mins on the treadmill, and/or 20 to 30 mins of a hill program on the Arc Trainer – I just kind of go by how I feel that day.
So with all of this in mind, here’s my advice for you! Let’s dive into tips to to actually DO your cardio – and love every minute of it!
Tip #1: Perform the Kind of Cardio that You Enjoy
It goes without saying that the only way you’re going to actually get your cardio DONE, and look forward to it, is by employing methods that inspire you. Cardio can come in so many different forms. And it does not have to be performed solely in the gym.
So if that means going out for a run like I do, or maybe even hitting up the track, doing stairs, taking a dance class, spinning/cycling, swimming – whatever you wish. Incorporating this into your weekly routine will keep you on the path to getting the work in, and enjoying the process of body transformation (and doing it on YOUR terms).
Tip #2: Stop Thinking About the Fat Loss Aspect, Focus More on the Cardiovascular Improvement and Better Endurance
This is another huge one. A little shift in your mindset can really set you off in an even better direction when it comes to your perception of cardio.
We all think of it as a means to burn fat, but boy oh boy is it SOO MUCH MORE THAN THAT! Cardio is short for cardiovascular – heart and blood. It can and will help to improve the strength of your heart, lungs, and entire circulatory system. The stronger these systems in the body, the more oxygen that can get to the muscles. The higher your capacity for oxygen, the harder and longer you can train. Even in the weight room.
Ever feel totally winded after a hard set under some weights? Improving cardiovascular endurance can help to thwart some of that, and may even lead to you being able to set new PR’s and more because of it.
Tip #3: Don’t Spend Hours Doing the Boring Stuff
Another mistake that many make… Thinking that cardio has to be this long drawn out thing that you do either in the morning, or before or after weights, and it has to be done over long durations to count.
So. Far. From. The. Truth!
Honestly, you can get a GREAT cardio workout in as little as 20 to 30 mins! The main focus during your training should be on INTENSITY. How hard you’re working trumps how LONG you’re doing it for.
When you incorporate training techniques like HIIT and longer duration intervals, you force the body to train at near maximal capacities. What’s even more helpful in the case for body transformation is the short term boost in metabolism you’ll experience POST WORKOUT (we call that EPOC – excess post oxygen consumption).
Now the amount of calories you burn during this post workout time isn’t massive, but it IS cumulative. And the more often you do it, the more beneficial over time. Studies have shown with HIIT type of training, you can potentially boost your metabolism for a FULL 36 HOURS POST TRAINING! Now, imagine hitting up that workout again within that time, and the effects it can have on doubling up on that metabolism.
So the key is to train smarter – and train harder.
Tip #4: Cardio CAN Happen in the Weight Room
And the final thing I want to wrap up with is that cardio does not have to solely happen on a machine, but you can do it in the weight room as well.
One of my most FAVORITE ways to kick up my cardio training is through metabolic circuits. And they are so easy to put together. The main goal and objective of this kind of circuit is to get the body moving as one unit, from head to toe, and doing moves that will really challenge the heart and lungs as well.
Wearing a heart rate monitor during the workout can help you to pay attention to how hard you’re pushing, and keeping that number above 80-85% MHR. Incorporating interval timers set at specific work/rest intervals is also a great way of keeping you moving – while taking little rest – and getting the biggest caloric bang for your buck.
Stuck on how to put one together? I’ve got a GREAT workout you can do that I’ve created and include in some of my programming in my Inner Circle.
My closing thoughts…
It’s up to you to do the things that inspire YOU along the way in your body transformation journey. And it does not have to be a painful process. You’ll actually get stuff done FOR REAL when you are indeed looking forward to that workout – and you’re serious about taking things to the next level.
I’ve been exactly where you are, so I know what it takes to shift that mentality.
But I promise you one thing… If you heed this advice, you’ll soon see your options are wide open, and the sky’s the limit of what you can truly do.