After a year of outdoor boot camps, I gave up. I didn’t like getting up before the birds, I didn’t like being so exhausted following a workout, I wasn’t losing weight and at times, it was painful! Those long, difficult cardio workouts, come to find out, can actually be bad for you. Not only do you run the risk of injury but you also, in many cases of doing too much cardio workouts, can lose muscle mass. According to Livestrong, “When you do too much cardio at once, you run the risk of increasing the amount of muscle you burn as the body struggles to keep up with the increased level of energy being used by the body. When you combine excess cardio with an improper diet, such as one that drops your total calorie intake below 1500 calories, the risk of burning significant muscle increases.”
So how do you get your cardio in, knowing that can be essential to burning calories as well as beneficial to your health? Well, turns out there are some much shorter workouts that can, in many cases, actually be MORE beneficial than the hour long classes. One of my favorites is the 15 Minute HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout. The first time I heard about this, I was skeptical. How can a wimpy 15 minute workout be that rough? Turns out it can and I recommend you try it. It’s fairly simple but will leave you feeling like you went through your regular cardio. It’s also a great workout when you’re short on time or can’t get outdoors. The way it works is to do roughly seven or eight exercises for one minute with 30 second rests in between. The ones I generally use are:
- Sit ups
- High knees
You can chooses any full body weight exercise and the speed is strictly up to you. The bottom line is to get a healthy dose of cardio, burn fat and have fun. Remember, exercise doesn’t have to be boring and painful. Instead of those mind numbing, early morning, freezing workouts, I now ride my bike when the weather is nice, do some sprints at the local school or park, play some basketball or football with my nephews almost every weekend. I also bought a slackline which lead to some friendly competition between my son and me and a exercise ball (a GREAT inexpensive way to get a great workout) for some full body workouts.
I know there are those that swear by the excessive cardio and DO lose weight. But speaking for myself only, it wasn’t until I cut back on the cardio, put more emphasis on body weight training and started paying more attention to the food I was eating (and excessive cardio WILL make you hungry!) that the fat started to fall off and the body started taking shape. And believe me when I say, this way is much more fun!