Ask anyone in the gym why they do cardio, and they'll probably rattle off one of two things:
- They want to lose fat; that is, burn more calories.
- They want to improve their heart health.
So, cardio must be the way to go, right?
While cardiovascular training can help with both of those goals, there's another reason to commit to doing your cardio: more energy.
But let's get one thing straight. You won't find more energy by slogging it out on cardio equipment at that moderate-intensity pace known as the "fat-burning zone." You want a workout that's intense, always changing, and both physically and psychologically demanding—just not too demanding—to get your body revved and ready for the day. When you can do that, you'll be primed for endless energy, all day long.
Many people find that morning workouts serve them the best and set them up for plenty of energy as the day progresses, but you can do these whenever works for your schedule. The important thing is simply getting them done.
By performing these cardio workouts, you'll benefit in several ways:
- Improve your VO2 max capability, meaning you won't tire out as easily doing everyday activities.
- Improve your circulation, meaning you can get more nutrients to the brain and body.
- Enhance your muscle strength, which also means that you'll have more power behind you to complete tasks that would normally tire you out.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember as you get started with these energy-boosting workouts is that there is such a thing as too much. If you push the barrier too hard—if your workouts are too intense or you're training too often—you'll start to verge into overtraining. Eventually, it will lead to chronic exhaustion.
You want the sessions to be intense enough without overdoing it. Watch for signs of overtraining, including the following:
- Having difficulty falling and staying asleep
- Feeling a little more irritable
- Not coming into each workout session feeling fresh—or requiring stimulants to be ready to hit the gym
- Suffering from persistent muscle soreness
If you notice any of these occurring, it may be a good idea to get out of the gym for a while and re-evaluate the structure of your routines.
Let's look at three great workouts to try if you want all-day energy.
Workout 1: Battle Rope Blast
Battle ropes are a fantastic tool for getting in shape, building strength, and boosting your energy level. This nontraditional form of cardio is not only fun but also a challenge you won't forget.
The nice thing about battle ropes is that you can perform many different exercises, so there's no reason you should ever get bored.
Perform the following battle rope exercises and try to rest only where indicated.
- Double wave: 1 set of 10 reps
- Alternating wave: 1 set of 20 reps
- Snake on the floor: 1 set of 30 reps
- Power slam: 1 set of 5 reps
- Rest: 2 min.
- Alternating wave lunge jump: 1 set of 20 reps
- Lateral shuffle with alternating wave: 1 set of 20 reps
- Alternating arm power slam: 1 set of 5 reps per arm
- Double-arm slam jump: 1 set of 10 reps
- Rest: 2 min.
Repeat the cycle.
Workout 2: Plyometric Power
If you are just getting started with your cardio workouts, consider plyometric training. It's a great way to boost your cardiovascular level, improve your strength and power, and keep on your toes. Plus, it's a lot of fun once you get going with the exercises.
This workout mixes plyometric training with some basic bodyweight exercises to give you a fast-paced circuit that will keep you moving. Because it is fast paced, with little rest, you'll be in and out in no time, so it's perfect for those with a busy schedule.
When performing plyometric workouts, make sure you are rested enough to use proper form going into each move. If you don't use good form, your chance of injury increases.
Remember to do a thorough cool-down when you're finished to help prevent muscle soreness.
Workout 3: Sprint Training with a Twist
This final workout has you doing standard running intervals on the treadmill, but incorporates some different exercises into the mix. The result is a sprint session that flies by at lightning speed while challenging every muscle group in your body.
Give any of these three cardio workouts a try the next time you hit the gym, and you'll soon see what an amazing difference it can make in your energy—all day long.