Regardless of the ultimate goal of a training plan, be it leaning out or bulking up, proper cardio balance is an incredibly important part of any training program. Cardio exercise helps control body fat levels, improves metabolic conditioning, and enhances recovery after weight training. Unfortunately, the huge variety of available cardio workouts can make it difficult to decide what is best for a particularly training program.
First of all, it’s important to remember to properly mix low-intensity steady-state (LISS) cardio and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) cardio. Both play equally important roles in a workout program and both can be easily overdone. Too much LISS can ramp up appetite leading to overeating, and too much HIIT can lead to burnout.
When choosing a cardio program it’s important not to choose based on overall calorie burn, but based instead on enjoyment of the activity. When adding cardio to a workout plan, you’re more likely to fail if you choose something you can’t stand doing. If you absolutely can’t stand the treadmill, hit the pool or the bike. If the stair stepper or rowing machine hurt your knees, get over to the elliptical for less impact. With the huge variety of cardio activities available, there’s absolutely no reason to ever do an exercise that make you hate your life. Getting the benefits of a cardio routine is all about consistency, and, it seems obvious, but choosing a cardio exercise that you hate makes you less likely to stick with the routine.
There are virtually endless options for adding cardio to your workout plan. When putting the program together, you should try different things until you find activities that you enjoy doing so that you know you will stick with them and even look forward to them. This doesn’t necessarily mean trying out every machine in the gym. Some people can’t stand to be inside or to stay in one spot too long. Some people don’t like exercising outside because it takes them out of the zone. There’s something for every one of every temperament available. Outdoor enthusiasts can easily run or bike outside, join an outdoor sports league, or do other activities such as rock climbing. For those who would rather be indoors, there’s the treadmill, stair stepper, elliptical and more. Or, you can do all of those if you can’t stand to stay in one place. If machines and sports aren’t for you, check out the group exercise classes offered at the gym. The can range from total body workouts to spin classes to yoga. Anything works as long as it gets the heart pumping enough to burn calories.
The purpose of adding cardio to an exercise plan is to burn extra calories. In the long run, instead of choosing the best exercises for a huge amount of calorie burn, it’s better to choose the best exercises for you. When you find a cardio exercise that you enjoy you’re more likely to stick to the routine, so the results will come, even if they take a little longer. Better that the results come slow than not at all because you quit after choosing exercises that you hate doing, though.