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Tips for Maintaining Sound Cardiovascular Fitness

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So, you're either planning on starting a cardio program, or you're wondering whether or not you've put together an effective cardiovascular exercise plan.

This article will provide you with tips for maintaining sound cardiovascular fitness. Whether you're just getting started or looking for next big thing, the following information will be beneficial to you.

Cardiovascular activity, referred to simply as "cardio," should be as much a part of your body-sculpting efforts as hitting the gym and "pumping iron". The one muscle group that seems to get missed when in a good weight-lifting workout - is your body's most important muscle, and often as you're pumping the iron, you should also be pumping your heart.

The 30 minutes per day that you should reserve for cardio work should always entail exercises that are enjoyable, manageable, and of course, safe. So if you're ready to get sweaty, here are a few wise choices:

Running: Running is a fantastic way to get into shape and improve your cardiovascular fitness! Here in Phoenix, running through the park or neighborhood isn't always possible. It's just too hot outside to think about it! And, even when the weather is more conducive to outdoor running, running can be hard on your joints. Yet, the treadmill, because of its smooth rubbery conveyor belt, is a lot more merciful on your joints. It doesn't wear and tear your body the way running on the tarred street will. There is no pounding-like effect. And, you get to avoid the smell of car exhaust as well!

Ellipticals: These "sweat machines" are an excellent method of losing weight and shedding body fat. And, unlike traditional "steppers", Elliptical machines work both your upper body as well as your legs, so you end up with a full body workout while you improve your cardiovascular health!

Stationary Bikes: Looking for a low-impact workout? Try a stationary bike! They're an effective way to raise your heart level, and they also cause far less strain on the knees and back than other methods of cardio. Plus, they are excellent for toning up the quadriceps. And, if leaning over a bike seems like too much work for your back, there are also "recumbent" bikes available that let you sit in an upright position for your workouts!

Swimming: Swimming is an excellent cardiovascular activity, as it is considered a total body exercise, as swimming hits the various muscles in the body. The water provides an excellent form of resistance that will get your heart pumping in no time. The benefits for the heart and lungs are endless. As for the down side? There's only one. Not everybody has a swimming pool!

Also remember that your heart rate can provide you a lot of information about your training. Over time, your resting heart rate should decrease. By tracking your heart rate, you can monitor your effort. If you train today at 160bpm then have a lousy day and don't feel like you're receiving any benefit, use your heart rate as a guide. As long as you are pushing hard enough to hit that 160bmp mark again, you know you are getting at least the same intensity from your training as the time before.

One last thing - make sure you keep your workouts interesting by injecting variety into your plan. If you always use the treadmill, your body will become so efficient at using the treadmill that you will begin to burn fewer calories doing the same workout. On the other hand, if you perform treadmill work one session, elliptical on your next another session, then go for a bike ride, you will continue to see the benefit of increased calorie expenditure. This will keep the fat melting off and continuously improve your cardiovascular conditioning.

And, don't let yourself think that cardio isn't necessary, since even when you're in peak condition, a little cardiovascular exercise is always necessary for a healthy lifestyle. Just make sure you change the style and frequency of cardio to suit your lifestyle and fitness goals. Consider various styles of training, different terrains, and new types of equipment to train on. Learn what your body needs, keep a good journal, and find out what works for you!

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