These Are the 5 Absolute Easiest Yet Effective Ways to Get In Your Cardio

28/02/2018 - 09:21 PM

You're gearing up to take on cardio training, but diving off the deep end sounds about as much fun as the last season of The Bachelor [1], am I right? Smart move; easing into the shallow end first is always best for anything exercise related. You've probably heard that cardio is a great way to burn calories, fight off nasty chronic diseases, and of course be fit enough to survive the zombie apocalypse with as much grace and abs as Lauren Cohan [2].

When you think of cardio, though, some other images probably pop into your head like drenched sweatbands, a screaming cycle instructor, or even marathons. Cardio really doesn't have to be those things. Cardio is just about moving your body, and we've got the five easiest ways for you to move and get your cardio going. You're in good hands with these workouts. We reached out to Youfit Health Club's [3] national director of fitness, Raphael Konforti, to curate your five cardio workouts.

Rowing Pyramids

Rowing is one of the most effective ways to get in cardio that's also easy on the joints, and the intensity can instantly be lowered or increased based on your tempo. Here's a quick breakdown of perfect rowing form [4].

Konforti's Trainer Tip: Rowing activates and uses the biggest muscles in your body, including the legs and back, so your heart is sure to get some action. Rowing can either be done with a very casual pace or low drag (the drag or resistance can be adjusted by pulling the lever by the fan) to keep the challenge just right. Start by going at a cruising pace of about 24-28 strokes per minute. Once you get comfortable, try to up your pace or power for set distances that get longer and then shorter. For example, try this pyramid in meters: 50, 100, 150, 200, 150, 100, then 50. Rest as needed between rounds, and you'll be done in 15 minutes max.

Total-Body Circuits

Wait, no running, no ellipticals, no cardio machines? That's right! Cardio is like a box of chocolates. There are some chocolates you expect, but there are also those "different" chocolates that seem to accumulate until the very end. (Did someone say coconut?) What you find, though, is that those chocolates that aren't typical turn out to be pretty good. Likewise, cardio doesn't always have to be labeled cardio. Circuits and resistance training [5] also get your heart rate up and work as great low-impact alternatives.

Konforti's Trainer Tip: Circuits come in all different shapes and sizes. What matters is that you choose compound exercises, or exercises that use multiple joints and activate lots of muscle. So bicep curls are out, but squats, deadlifts, rows, and push-ups are definitely in.

To get started, try grouping three to five exercises together doing 30 seconds of each with minimal rest in between. The easier it gets, the more rounds you can repeat or the longer you can do each move. Take on your first circuit using these exercises: squats, deadlifts, bent-over rows, push-ups, and lunges.

Run, Walk, Repeat

Running is the ultimate, no-frills cardio that doesn't require anything more than a pair of shoes and sweat ambition. If you're already groaning just reading the word "run," we get it. Running can get a bad rap and be tough, but it's fully accessible with a game plan in place.

Konforti's Trainer Tip: When it comes down to it, exercise is really just moving around. There's nothing that says "move" more than going from point A to point B on your own two feet. To get started with running for cardio, set yourself a simple goal. Either aim to go a certain total distance or keep moving for a set amount of time, for example, two miles or 20 minutes. Either way, start by jogging and rest by walking as needed. Just keep moving one foot in front of the other. If you need to stop, it's not a big deal — you're just getting going! If your goal is distance, then time yourself. If your goal is time, then track your distance. Seeing small wins in the form of progress will keep you motivated and give you the heads-up of when to set loftier goals.

Active Recovery Intervals

Before you run for the hills after reading "intervals," let us explain. Intervals just means alternating between work and rest. Just how hard you work and how rested up you get is totally up to you. Remember, if you got moving, you got in cardio. That's mission well-accomplished.

Konforti's Trainer Tip: When starting out with cardio, it makes the most sense to keep moving as much as possible, then build up to interval training where rest is required. That doesn't mean interval training is out as an easier option; it just needs a tweak. For this workout, instead of going as hard as you can for your interval, then resting, you'll back off the pace but use active rest between rounds. Here's how it works: For your big mover exercise, work for 30 seconds, then recover with a low-intensity exercise for 30 seconds. Repeat it for five to 10 rounds depending on your energy. Here are a few combo options: squat jumps with single-leg deadlifts; deadlifts with planks; side shuffles with lateral raises; burpees with quadriceps stretch.

Upper Lower Alternator

By now, you're probably realizing that how you do your cardio matters a whole lot more than what you do for your cardio. This version is no exception to the rule and boasts the benefits of cardio and resistance training — your classic BOGO.

Konforti's Trainer Tip: The reason your heart rate increases when you work out is because your muscles need to get more oxygen. When you work out just one muscle group, it's a lot easier for your heart to get the oxygen there. When it has to get oxygen-filled blood to more muscles, it has to work harder. By combining an upper-body exercise, like an overhead press, with a lower-body exercise, like lunges, it takes more effort for your heart to get the blood there.

For our purposes, that means you can get in your cardio just by alternating between two exercises that don't target the same muscles. Try out these combos completing 10-15 reps of the first move then doing the second move for 10-15 reps and repeating. Start off with three sets of each combo going for three to five total combos in your workout. Here are some options: lateral lunges with push-ups; sumo squats with dumbbell rows; deadlifts with overhead presses; reverse lunges with barbell rows; goblet squats with curl to presses.

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