I hate cardio. It’s boring, I drift off, I don’t push myself, I hate it. Rather than throw in the towel, I decided to find ways to make cardio more challenging and, ultimately, more fun.
1) Join a class.
My first spin/cycle class was amazing. I usually hate riding those stupid bikes, where I go for like 10 minutes, get bored and don’t sweat. Hah, not in a spin class! The music combined with the fact that I made myself pick a bike in a center so I couldn’t just trounce off when I got bored or overwhelmed. I worked myself hard. The same goes for other cardio – step, rumba, belly dancing, cardio kick boxing. Find your grove! Experiment! Ask personal trainers at the gym which classes are their favorite! If it’s fun, it’s not a work out.
2) Ditch plodding along.
It’s way easy to get on the elliptical, glue your eyes to the TV and just plod along. There are a lot of ways to mix up a standard cardio work out. For example, I gave my sister the following idea and she now uses it and says it breaks the time up easier.
Elliptical: 4 minute warm up at moderate intensity. 1 minute of resistance at 15. 4 minutes resistance at 5. 1 minute resistance at 16. 4 minutes resistance at 5.
Split this up any way you want. Do 5 minutes and 2 minutes, or 10 minutes and 5 minutes. Heck, beef the resistance up to 55. Segmenting the time like that where you’re counting INTERVALS instead of hours makes time go by faster.
3) In the same thought process, mix it uppp
Changing resistance is one good way, why not change the incline and pace too? On machines that have inclines experiment with those. High incline for 10 minutes, low incline for 10 minutes. Resistance and incline can be changed on the machine, don’t be afraid to experiment.
4) Push the pace when you mix it up
Up your resistance and also try to push the pace. Basically, try to go the same speed at the higher intensity/resistance/incline as you did at the lower one. Think of it as “pushing the pace.”
5) Let your iPod be your god.
Take it off shuffle. I know, it’s hard, but do it. Coordinate your cardio to your iPod. The first song should be your warm up – a 4 or so minute song that is mellow, but will get you in the mood. Follow it by songs according to your plan. Doing intervals that day? Download a playlist that’s like a Power Hour one, where each song is a minute long. Always start to slack off at about 15 minutes in? The song that starts at 15 minutes should be your absolute BOOTY POPPING I AM A BEAST song! Know your work out and coordinate your iPod to it. In the same breath, don’t get stuck on the same play list. Listening to the same songs over and over again sucks. Tumblr search playlists, go on Fratmusic.com to find new songs, listen to the radio, go on internet forms. Anything, just mix your play list up!
I pretty much already touched on this, but intervals really help me in my work out funk. Telling myself, “Alright, I’m going to run AS HARD AS I CAN for the length of the track, then walk the corners, THEN RUN AGAIN!” is really motivating to me. I have a set plan, and intervals breaks up the time. Plus, intervals burn more calories and more fat, but that’s a topic for another day. This goes along with breaking up your workout, but this is more tuned to the outside runner than the inside cardio machine junkie (i.e. – me)
7) BE POSITIVE.
This is the most important part. When I feel like quitting, I always give myself a pep talk. “Holy crap, Courtney, you have burned 500 calories according to this machine! Hell, a year ago you would have been sitting on your ass eating 500 calories and watching Friends repeats, but today you’re at the gym. And look at that? Look how badass you look with all that sweat on your face. Like a beast. Like a beast that will run a 5k soon because you’re SOOO cardiovascularly fit!” Or, my personal favorite, “I really love cardio. I have all this time to myself to do things at my own pace. No professors or lectures or studying, this is ME time. And I’m ROCKING it.”
8) Use distractions to your advantage
I know a lot of people frown on watching TV when you work out, because you often plod along. Turn it into a drinking game, but for your cardio. Some examples –
I watched The Princess Diaries on ABC Family. Every time Ana Hathaway and Chris Pine had sexual tension, I put the resistance up to 50 and the incline up to 15 and ran as hard as I could until the scene was over.
When watching anything, I up the intensity/etc. to the highest during the commercials. That leaves the show part – the entertaining part – to be my recovery time.
When watching SVU, I push the pace as hard as I can every time Ice T is on TV.
Get it? Make up your own system, where the TV commercials or certain scenes in movies or, hell, every time Nancy Grace shakes her head condescendingly at a minority into an opportunity to sprint or recovery. Make it YOUR work out, it’ll be fun.
9) Opt for conditioning instead of cardio
Decrease the time between your sets during weight lifting, or opt for lighter weights and higher intensity. You can also do things like jump rope or do burpees between sets while weight lifting to keep your heart rate up!