Should I even do cardio???

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Should I even do cardio?

What kind of cardio is the best?

How much should I be doing? 

 

These are questions that are coming up more frequently these days!

 

Maybe it’s the welcome changes in weather, warmer temps, more daylight hours in each day, or the promise of shorts and summer clothing being right around the corner…whatever the motivating factor is, questions—and opinions–about cardio are popping up everywhere.

 

So what kind of cardio should people do? And how much of it?

 

 

 

My answer is: it depends. (Surprise!!)

 

The kind of cardio you (choose to) do, and how much of that cardio you choose to do depends on:

  • How much time you have
  • What your body’s unique needs are
  • What your personal fitness or physique goals are
  • What you ENJOY doing

 

 

 

Now I’ve been working out for over 20 YEARS, but only working out effectively for the past 9.

 

 

In that time, I’ve tried lots of different classes, training programs, used a ton of cardio machines, and planned and taught boot camps, circuit training classes, and HIIT classes.

 

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So I’ve been able to experience personally and witness, first-hand, the effects of different approaches to ‘doing cardio.’

 

 

The past year, in particular, has been super enlightening and really changed the way I work out AND the results I’ve gotten (which translates to better workouts and results for my clients, too!).

 

 

Here’s what happened…by way of a quick story.

 

At the beginning of April, I participated in the Big Windy 25 Memorial Run, held in honor of the Chinook crew and service members who perished in a crash in Afghanistan in April 2005. The run raises funds to support T.A.P.S.: Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors—an organization that supports the family members of fallen military service members. http://www.taps.org

 

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I’m telling you this because it was the first actual 5k I’d done in over 3 months, and I’m not sure I would have opted to run a 5k anytime soon if it hadn’t been for such a good cause.

 

 

 

Which is pretty funny, because I’ve been a long-time runner!

 

 

 

So what happened? Life happened, lol.

 

 

 

Actually, I phased out running last year after joining a CrossFit gym so I could participate in their kettlebell training program.

 

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For the first 4 months, I tried balancing 2-3 runs a week with 3 days of hard training, but it didn’t’ allow my body enough recovery time and I always felt achy, tired and sluggish.

 

 

 

My hormones didn’t respond favorably, either, and I wasn’t seeing the physique results one would expect from working out so much!

 

 

So I made the decision to stop running last summer and give my full attention and commitment to a 5-day kettlebell training program. And it was definitely the right decision!

 

 

I recovered better and faster, and I began to see dramatic improvements in my strength and endurance during my kettlebell, barbell and conditioning sessions.

 

 

The absolute icing on the cake??  My physique tightened up after resting more and working out less.

 

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Don’t’ get me wrong—there’s still been running involved in those workouts, but it’s been either an easy 400 meter warm up/cool down OR 100 to 200 meter sprints. And by sprints, I mean SPRINTS—all out efforts.

 

 

I’ll be honest—I was a little nervous about the prospect of running three miles—straight—with my husband, in a group of soldiers, since I hadn’t been running in a while. I was afraid I’d lost my running endurance and that I might embarrass myself.

 

 

But I was pleasantly surprised that my conditioning was more than adequate to run a strong 3 miles, and I was able to revisit that ‘meditative’ quality that running always offers me.

 

 

See, when I first started running, I ran to burn calories/lose weight.

 

 

Then, after I had kids, it was one of the most convenient ways to get some exercise (next to at-home dumbbell and bodyweight circuit training).

 

 

Plus, running truly saved my sanity and helped me calm strong fears and emotions for many years in a row, particularly during my husband’s deployments to Afghanistan.

 

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Those longer runs taught me endurance, to tolerate discomfort longer than I wanted. They helped me train my brain and gave me the chance to be alone with my thoughts. And that repetitive rhythm really is like meditation in motion!

 

 

Now sprinting makes my body happier than lots of longer runs each week.

 

 

Sprinting has caused me fewer repetitive use injuries, and I credit sprinting for reshaping my physique dramatically—my legs and glutes are shapelier, and my body has become much leaner all over.

 

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And, as I was reminded during that 5k, sprint workouts are just SO much more time-efficient!

 

 

 

That said, I’m going to find a way to work in a gentle run or two each week when it feels right, because yesterday’s run also reminded me how much I like the feeling of being in continuous motion—not because I need to burn more calories, lol.

 

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So once again, the kind of cardio you (choose to) do, and how much of that cardio you choose to do depends on:

  • How much time you have
  • What your body’s unique needs are
  • What your personal fitness or physique goals are
  • What you ENJOY doing

 

 

 

While the physique and performance effects of sprint workouts are both dramatic and pleasing to me, I wouldn’t continue to do them if I didn’t enjoy them.

 

 

The same goes for running: if I didn’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t do it.

 

 

My Bottom Line: I don’t ‘do cardio’ just for the sake of ‘doing cardio.’

 

And my recommendation to you:

Engage in workouts that are satisfying to you, constructive for your body, that work for your schedule, and supportive of your performance and physique goals.

 

If you’re not sure about what the right kind or amount of cardio is for you, then it might be helpful to answer a few questions:

What are your goals?

Do you have any injuries or inhibiting physical factors?

How much time do you have each day/week for workouts?

Do you like to exercise indoors or outdoors?

Do you enjoy cardio machines, or do you prefer classes?

Are you getting RESULTS from what you’re currently doing?

AND, most importantly, what do YOU like to do?

 

The way in which you answer these questions will help guide your choices about what kind of cardio to do (if any), how much, how long and how often.

 

And in case you’re looking for some new workout ideas, I send out time-saving workouts every Wednesday to my inner circle peeps, including some fun cardio training options.

 

If you’re not already on my email list, sign up here (and get a little bonus, too):  http://bit.ly/RLFWeeklyFitTips

 

 

Talk to you soon,

Kate

 

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