Hopefully, you’ve identified a few times in your week when you can exercise, and you’ve identified the kind of exercise you can fit into that time. Perhaps it’s running, dancing, swimming or walking. Perhaps you’ve signed up to a class. Hopefully, you’ve committed to something!
This week, we’re going to focus on cardio. For most of us, that’s what we need to dedicate the time to. And we all know that it’s time which is the biggest barrier to exercise.
We need to get the most beneficial effect out of the time we dedicate to cardio exercise.
We want to get maximum value out of minimum time input. I don’t want to be getting fit in 30 minute sessions only to be told I need to spend 1 hour exercising. I don’t have any more time! I want to get the most out of the time I have.
Step 1: Identify your starting point
I’m going to keep this simple. If you want lots more detail, head to How You Get Fit Cardiovascular Fitness.
All you need to do is to do your chosen exercise for as long as you can, and time how long you can keep it up before you need a rest. So if you’re running, time how long you can run for before you need to walk. Don’t go crazy, keep it at a decent pace but not so you’re ready to collapse at the end!
That’s your starting point. Every time you exercise, you need to push yourself to run for a bit longer, or run a bit faster.
Step 2: Work out how much you can increase it each time.
Something I’ve learned about exercise is that it’s really easy to make progress, especially in cardio. But you need to take responsibility for this yourself.
If you’re just starting out, take it easy. Say you can only jog for 1 minute before you need to walk, next time, jog for 1 minute 15 seconds. You’ll gradually increase your jogging time and reduce your walking time. It’s the same for swimming, cycling and other things.
In terms of classes, your instructor should give you different levels of challenge, so try to increase it a tiny bit each time.
You have to take responsibility for this, or your fitness won’t improve. You cannot rely on anyone else to do it for you!
Step 3: Experiment with some HIIT
High Intensity Interval Training is the fastest way to improve your cardio. Fortunately the sessions are also short. There are absolutely LOADS on YouTube, and lots of exercise DVDs also follow this pattern.
The idea is that you work really hard for a short period of time (say 60-90 seconds hard work) followed by working at less intensity.
This week, I’m going to try to add a HIIT workout to my routine. Or I’ll replace one of my runs with a HIIT workout. Just a 15 minute one, I’m not going to go crazy! Are you going to join me?
If you’re ready for the next step, head over to Strength Training and Stretching.