Fitness

Top five cardio mistakes

Make your next workout really count by paying attention to these dos and don’ts

Top five cardio mistakes

Find yourself working up a sweat but hardly ever seeing the results? According to Jon Domingues, a certified personal trainer at Eclipse fitness in Toronto, your cardio routine could be sabotaging your results. Here he explains what you should (and shouldn’t) be doing during your next trip to the gym.

The Don’ts

1. Don’t do too much steady-state cardio
Steady-state cardio is a form of exercise in which your heart rate remains at a consistent pace for the entirety of your workout. The problem with this type of program is that it doesn’t challenge your heart rate. Imagine you’re running outside, you speed up to avoid being hit by a car, twist your hips to swerve around a mother with a stroller and jump over the lovely little gift your neighbors dog left you on the lawn. All these twists and turns challenge your heart rate which results in a better workout.

In order to achieve a varied heart rate, you should try High Intensity Interval Training. H.I.I.T focuses on many short intervals of high energy activity. The next time you are on the treadmill, do five minutes of walking followed by a minute of running. Continue with two minutes jogging followed by four minutes of running. By changing your pace you will drastically affect your heart rate, which will give you much more effective cardio. According to Domingues, “H.I.I.T burns more fat and calories post workout. Try 20 minutes total of a 2:1 work to rest ratio.”

2. Don’t do the same type of cardio routine every workout
Using the same type of machine during every workout can put your body in a bit of a rut. “Our bodies are very good at adapting to the same exercise stimulus, so to get continued results, make sure you vary what type of machine you use and the intensity as well,” says Domingues. This will prevent your body from plateauing and refusing to show you any further results.

3. Don’t just park yourself on an elliptical trainer
Now, there isn’t anything really wrong with elliptical trainers, there are just many other cardio options that give you far more for your efforts. According to Domingues, “Focusing on multi-joint exercises like rowing or skipping rope use more muscles and burn more calories. These exercises also work your core muscles and improve your coordination.”     

Another great option is doing Plyometrics. Plyo is a form of exercise designed to produce fast and powerful movements. Plyo movements demand rapid sequences of maximum strength, improving cardiovascular health, muscular definition and flexibility.

4. Don’t rely solely on gym cardio machines
It’s so easy to get in an exercise rut, particularly when you are sticking to the gym cardio machines. Repetition leads to boredom and eventually results in skipping workouts. “I recommend that my clients cross-train and get out of the gym to do some cardio outside. Those who cross-train tend to stick with their programs and have better results,” says Domingues.Cross-training is the practice of engaging in a variety of different types of exercise activities. This method improves over-all performance and will help you remain motivated while minimizing boredom caused by overdoing any particular exercise.

5. Don’t make cardio the focus of your workout

Most women want a tighter, firmer physique and this is not attained through cardio alone. Often cardio programs are supplemented with weight- and muscle-training but it should really be the other way around. “Unless you are training for a specific sport that requires high cardio fitness, weights should be the focus of your workouts, specifically free weights,” says Domingues. “75 percent of my clients are women and for the most part, their goal is a tight feminine physique, which is achieved best through regular weight-training. Building muscle burns more calories even at rest and gives your body muscular development and firmness that you can’t get from cardio sessions alone.”

 The Dos

1. Do get your heart rate moving

2. Do try a variety of cardio machines

3. Do try multi-joint exercises like skipping, rowing and plyometrics

4. Do cross-train outside of the gym

5. Do focus on weights and supplement your workout with cardio. If you are able to, Domingues suggests consulting with a personal trainer who can show you proper form with free weights and to devise a specific program to facilitate your specific needs, helping you to achieve your goals.