TOPIC: How Can You Make Cardio Fun?
Everyone hates the torture of cardio. Whether it's pedaling on a bike or running up stairs, cardio is the most grueling and annoying part of one's workout.
How can you make cardio fun?
What are some effective and fun cardio exercises? Be as descriptive as possible.
When should cardio be performed in conjunction with weight training? Why?
Bonus Question: Which cardio exercise do you find you be the most boring? Which do you enjoy the most?
Show off your knowledge to the world!
1st place - 75 in store credit.
2nd place - 50 in store credit.
3rd place - 25 in store credit.
1st Place - BurningHeart
View This Author's BodySpace Here.
The alarm clock goes off. You feel around with your fingers and hit the snooze. Nine minutes later it goes off again. This time you roll out of bed, it's no use putting off the morning ritual any longer.
After getting dressed and having a quick breakfast you walk outside to start your morning cardio. The day looks the same as the past 20 times you've done this.
You walk onto the pavement and start jogging. After a few minutes you quicken your pace and start to run. All you hear is the huffing of air entering and leaving your lungs and the thump, thump, thump of your feet on the pavement.
After A Few Minutes You Quicken Your Pace & Start To Run.
This routine eventually gets monotonous, most likely after the first time you've done it. So what happens? You delay cardio; delaying turns into skipping some cardio days. Ultimately, skipping some cardio days turns into completely removing cardio from your routine.
Weightlifting is somewhat fun, or else you wouldn't do it. Doesn't this mean you should make cardio fun too? Although you may be skeptical to cardio being as fun as weightlifting, it's very possible.
Whether or not you are doing cardio in the spring, summer, fall, or winter it should be something you look forward to. Remember, more fun when doing cardio means you'll put more effort into it. More effort equals better results. Spice up your cardio routine or ditch it altogether, an entire article devoted to making cardio fun lies ahead.
Part 1: How Can You Make Cardio Fun?
To begin you must first obtain some form of media player for your cardio sessions. This can be a portable satellite radio or MP3 player for cardio that requires you only focus on a certain object. This can also include a small television set for cardio where you will be stationary.
Whatever your pleasure, a form of media is a staple in making cardio fun. Listed below are some recommendations:
1. MP3 Players:
Cheap and able to hold many songs, MP3 players are great for dragging a load of songs from your computer to take on the go. While iPods are the most popular MP3 player out there, there are much more affordable ones that still hold enough songs and play just as well. While some include an AM/FM radio, you'll often have to do cardio to commercials, which aren't a motivator.
Able to customize your own playlist; inexpensive; portable; can hold many songs.
Frequently downloading new songs to the player can be a small nuisance; only plays what you put on it, which can be less fun after a while because the variety is limited to what songs you put on it.
Price Range: $20 - $300
2. Satellite Radio:
The gourmet version of radio. A satellite radio, while more expensive than an AM/FM radio, allows you much more variety with no static or commercials. Satellite radios come in stationary and portable versions, so you can put one in your workout room or take it on the go.
With about 70 channels of music you'll be sure to find something that suits your tastes without worrying about poor reception or commercials interrupting the music.
Huge variety of music; no commercials; no static; portable.
More expensive than regular radios, especially for the portable version.
Price Range: $20 - $350, plus $13 monthly subscription.
3. Small Television Set:
Humans are visual creatures, watching TV can put us into a zone that can make us ignore our fatigue. While not useable on the go, a small television set can be used in a home gym where you'll be doing cardio for an extended period of time.
Visually stimulating; allows you to possibly do cardio longer; relatively inexpensive.
Requires a cable connection to catch most channels; price range adjusts depending on the size and quality; television is usually less motivating than music.
Price Range: $15 and up. Available at electronic stores or online.
Ok now that you have some form of media device, let's get into making the actual cardio workout fun...
Variety, or the lack of, is responsible for the most cardio routines killed, along with many others things in life. Doing the exact same thing over and over is a quick way to turn you away from your cardio. Humans have attention spans, some short and some long, nevertheless everyone has a breaking point. Don't do the same type of cardio everyday, there are plenty ways to have fun with cardio.
Without noticeable progression you're likely to turn away from cardio because the benefits do not appear to outweigh the costs. Progression comes in two forms, visual and mental.
- Visual progression is seeing the fat leave your body over a period of time. You won't notice this change unless you take before and after pictures because you see yourself everyday. You'll never notice a day's change but you'll notice some change over a few months. Take pictures before you start your cardio routine and every month.
- Mental progression is getting better at what you do over a period of time. This is running an extra lap than the week before; going another round on the heavy bag; or doing another five minutes on the stationary bike.
How do you keep mental progression? Simply keep a logbook on the duration and intensity of your cardio workouts. After doing a few months of cardio you'll be able to look back on your logbook and see your progression. For more fun upload it into a graph in Microsoft Word or Excel.
Accomplish A Task:
Cardio doesn't have to be running around the block for twenty minutes or peddling on a bicycle for thirty minutes. Do something constructive such as taking up a sport, learning how to swim, or learning a skill such as jump roping.
Find A Partner:
There's not a stronger motivator than someone else working out with you. A training partner will keep you from cutting workouts short or slacking in intensity.
There are many people out there with the same goals as you and looking for partners. You can even recruit a friend or family member to join you if they have the necessary dedication. Plus a workout partner keeps things fun and interesting; it's someone to communicate with instead of training alone.
There Isn't A Stronger Motivator Than Someone Else Working Out With You.
Part 2: What Are Some Effective And Fun Cardio Exercises? Be As Descriptive As Possible.
We all know of the stereotypical cardio routines: running, stairstepping, cycling... so break away from the 'generic' mentality and learn some fun cardio exercises!
Heavy Bag Work:
When you're angry at someone or the world, what's the best way to get your frustrations out?" Beating the crap out of something in an orderly fashion. A heavy bag is an excellent tool used to increase your speed, cardiovascular endurance, punching power, heart rate, fat loss, and muscle tone.
Either purchase a heavy bag with gloves or join a gym that has one. Study some basic punching techniques and watch yourself grow from an arm-flailing puncher to a coordinated boxer. For the most fun time yourself in three minute rounds with 30 seconds rest in between. Over time you'll be able to throw more punches and last more rounds.
Run With HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) Principals:
When people think of running they often picture sprinting until they're exhausted and heading inside. Not only is this inefficient but it's boring. You must use your body to the maximum amount it can go, which is what HIIT accomplishes.
Think of it this way, when you weight lift do you only do one large set to failure before moving on to the next exercise? Nope, and why not? ??" Because your muscles will tire themselves out initially but are able to recover with just a few minutes of rest.
HIIT means jogging for three minutes, sprinting for one, jogging for three, sprinting for one, and so on. This lasts for 15-20 minutes and is followed by a cool-down period. And running isn't the only cardio exercise that HIIT can be applied to; you can use the HIIT formula with any type of cardio out there.
Play A Sport:
With any athletic team you'll experience enormous advantages in keeping cardio workouts fun. First of all you'll have a goal to work towards in addition to becoming fit. When doing cardio, you'll push yourself harder if your progress determines a team's success. Add in the fact that it's a great way to find a workout partner.
Finally it's a fun, healthy hobby that will make you feel energized rather than watching TV will do. These sports can include anything that raises your heart rate, which most sports accomplish.
A nice cardiovascular exercise that many people do not think of doing is jump roping. Jump roping is cheap, can be done indoors, and is a fun way of getting your heart rate up. With jump roping you'll notice it's difficult at first, however as you devote more time into it you'll get better at it. It increases your coordination and speed, both great bonuses to losing fat and becoming fit.
Part 3: When Should Cardio Be Performed In Conjunction With Weight Training? Why?
If you're considering a routine which includes both cardio and weight training, you have two main options depending on your goals:
- Goal 1: A bodybuilder's goal (non-competing), to lose fat and gain muscle in order to maximize aesthetics at the expense of cardiovascular condition.
- Goal 2: A fitness goal, in order to have high endurance and "be in shape" at the expense of aesthetics.
With Goal #1 you will cycle cardio as you cycle bulking/cutting. The average bodybuilder's yearly schedule is bulking in the fall/winter and cutting in the spring/summer. Following this schedule you'll only do cardio in the cutting season.
While cardio is beneficial any time of the year, if you're training solely for aesthetics then cardio will make your bulking cycle go slower than expected. You'll burn more calories and increase your metabolism, forcing you to increase your calorie intake for the day.
The fall/winter months are when people can train at their highest intensity and cardio can hinder this intensity by working your muscles when they should be recovering. While cardio temporarily increases your energy, hours after it's performed your energy levels will decrease faster.
During spring/summer you'll switch to a less intense weightlifting program to incorporate cardio in your routine. Although you'll devote time to cardio, it's optimal to do it only on off-days. If you decide to do cardio and weightlifting the same day, wait at least 8 hours after cardio before weightlifting.
This gives your muscles enough time to replenish energy stores lost in cardio. With this goal it's optimal to keep cardio workouts to 2-3 days a week in the spring/summer.
With Goal #2 you will do cardio year-round. With this goal aesthetics aren't as important as maintaining an overall conditioned body. Therefore cardiovascular exercises come first and weightlifting comes second.
While you'll be focusing on cardio with this goal, you still want to abide by the same principals as Goal #1. Cardio and weightlifting may be done on the same day, just wait at least 8 hours after cardio before weightlifting to ensure you aren't being inefficient with muscular gains. With this goal it's optimal to keep cardio workouts to 4-6 days a week year-round.
Part 4 - Bonus Question: Which Cardio Exercise Do You Find The Most Boring? Which Do You Enjoy The Most?
The question of what is the most boring cardiovascular exercise is easy for me to answer even though it may not be the most obvious. The winner of the most boring cardio exercise is stationary pedaling!
Even with music in the background, a stationary bike is the dullest form of cardio I've ever done. The main reason for its dullness is the fact you aren't moving, you aren't accomplishing any immediate goal. Your surroundings stay the same and the pedaling almost becomes second-hand nature, which isn't a good thing when trying for variety.
In my opinion the most boring cardiovascular exercises are those which keep you in one place yet tire you out. This is a really uncomfortable feeling. Imagine it as watching TV for 30 minutes but being out of breath the entire time. The stationary bike is a prime example of this kind of exercise.
On the other hand, the most enjoyable cardio exercise is by far the heavy bag. You really don't know how hard a professional boxer has it until you've punched a few rounds on a heavy bag. Even though it is one of the most fatiguing exercises, heavy bag training feels like I am accomplishing something.
With music playing in the background I move around like a boxer and strategically hit the heavy bag. While it is not punching back at me I still move like it is, blocking and dodging.
Over time my conditioning skyrockets. I start out punching slowly for three rounds and over a few months I punch twice as much and last for eight rounds. My speed is increased, I feel much more agile on my feet. My anger is dramatically reduced; I take out my frustrations on the bag, acting as if it's my worst enemy.
My punching power is greatly stronger. The bag thuds loudly as I hit it with a combination of jabs, head and body hooks, ended with an uppercut. I develop a specialty punch, one that I can put all of my power behind and really make a bang on the bag.
With all of these benefits I gain from heavy bag training, it is important not to forget the huge body fat loss from these workouts. Over a 9 month period I lose 55 lbs. and go from a chubby 235 lbs. to a lean 180 lbs as seen in my BodySpace.
From Burning Heart's BodySpace profile.
As cutting season is right around the corner, the part I look most forward to is getting back on the heavy bag. Looking forward to cardio? That's what I call fun.
2nd Place - Xtrainer
View This Author's BodySpace Here.
No one "likes" cardio. However, it is undoubtedly an important component of a complete fitness regimen (if you're not doing any cardio, you're doing something wrong). However, cardio does not have to be a chore. Here are a few tips to keep it from growing dull.
CAUTION: Please talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise or fitness program.
The Principles: How Can You Make Cardio Fun?
By following these core principles, you can ensure that your cardio workouts will keep you interested.
Do I even need to mention this? If you're always doing the same kind of cardio, you will become bored with it. Change it up. In addition, you will see better results from a variety of cardio sources, since your body is forced to adjust to each new stimulus (Cosgrove).
Of course cardio is boring when it means mindlessly plodding along on an Elliptical Trainer for an hour. You'll find it is much more fun to perform INTENSE cardiovascular exercise, such as Tabata intervals or other types of HIIT over a short duration. This does not mean you should never do long duration, low intensity cardio, but intense cardio is more fun and much more beneficial to most types of athletes.
3. Play A Sport:
For example, I practice jiu-jitsu, a wrestling-type martial art. What do you think sounds like more fun, running or trying to throw a guy onto the mat where you will proceed to strangle him until he submits? Exactly.
Playing a sport gives you something more to think about than "Uuuuhhh... I still have 27 minutes and 36 seconds left." In addition, when you are competing against someone else, you are left with no excuse to quit or let the intensity slide. While running on a treadmill, you must fight the constant temptation to lower the speed, or merely step off.
Types Of Cardio Training
We have already established "variety" as a core principle in keeping cardio interesting. Here are a few types of cardio to ensure you never get stuck in a rut.
Run slow for a given distance or period of time. Then, run fast for a given distance or period of time. Obviously, these two variables alone create an infinite variety of training scenarios.
Example: Run 8.5mph for 1:00. Then run 10mph for 1:00. Repeat as desired.
While I recommend training with intensity most of the time, the occasional long distance, low-intensity run adds variety and can help recovery.
Example: Run really far. Next time you run, try to run farther. Don't worry too much about speed.
Go as hard as you can over a short distance. You can add turns, jumps, or other twists to liven it up even more.
Example: Sprint 25 yards. Sprint back. Sprint 50 yards. Sprint back. Sprint 100 yards. Sprint back. Take a breather. When you get your voice back, tell me, are you still bored? There are numerous variations on sprint drills. Be creative or look online for more.
The "X" can be whatever you want. Push ups, squats, burpees, whatever. I would stay away from isolation exercise (like dumbbell curls) because they detract from intensity rather than enhance it. Run a given distance, then do "X."
Example: Swim 50m as hard as you can. Then, pull yourself out of the pool. Do 20 push-ups. Repeat as desired. It's perfectly okay to have several different "X's" per workout (push-ups the first time, squats the second, etc.)
While technically a type of interval training, Tabatas deserve a category of their own. The procedure is simple. 20 seconds of working as hard as you can. 10 seconds of rest.
Traditionally, you repeat this until 4:00 has elapsed, but the exact numbers are not crucial. However, if you are doing Tabata-style training for more that 6 or 7 minutes, you are probably not pushing as hard as you should during the 20 seconds of work.
Example: Perform as many burpees as you can in 20 seconds. Rest for 10seconds. Repeat for the desired length of time.
Mechanisms Of Cardio Training
You can use these with any of the above.
- Special Apparatus (2)
- Special Movement (Crawls, jumps, hops, skips, etc.) (2)
Let's do the math. Given 5 different types of training as well as 7 different methods (Within special apparatus we'll include stair steppers, Elliptical Trainers, rowing machines and more, so counting it as "2" mechanisms is quite conservative. The same can be said of the "Special Movement" section) you now have a set of 35 different types of cardio training!
Next, factor in the numerous variables available within each type of training (such as different interval schemes or variations on "X") and your cardio training options are limitless!
Still bored with your cardio? Then sport-specific training might be more to your liking.
Actually PLAY a Sport: Need I say more here? Sports are fun.
Example: (These sports provide good cardiovascular exercise) Soccer, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu/MMA, judo, basketball, boxing/kickboxing, track/cross country, cycling, hockey... anything where you moved a lot, move fast, and have at least a few minutes between breaks.
Heavy Bag Training:
As a martial artist, I am rather partial to this one. It could hold a category on its own, but suffice to say that heavy bag is an excellent "cardio machine."
Example: You can apply almost any type of training protocol to the heavy bag. For example, apply the "Running+X" methodology. Blast away at the heavy bag for 2:00, then perform 5 heavy power cleans. Repeat with a new "X," or the same one. It's up to you.
Ball Handling Drills:
They make a great cardio workout, they enhance your skills, and they are fun... so why aren't you doing them?
Example: For a soccer player, try setting up a course of cones to dribble through. Run the course to get a baseline time. Work on trying to beat your times in each session.
Just like it sounds. If you hate cardio but are still a very competitive person, this one might just be for you.
Example: You and a workout partner could compete in a few 100m (2-4 laps depending on pool size) swimming races.
Cardio & Weightlifting: When Should Cardio Be Performed In Conjunction With Weight Training? Why?
I believe that cardiovascular exercise should be performed year-round, whether one is bulking, cutting, or trying to maintain a particular weight. The benefits of quality cardiovascular exercise are so numerous and tangible that it simply does not make sense to go without it.
Bodybuilders often make the mistake of associating cardio exclusively with weight (fat) loss. The mentality of "I don't need to lose weight right now, therefore I don't need cardio" is not ideal for optimal health.
The benefits of cardiovascular exercise don't stop at fat loss. Cardiovascular exercise also promotes a healthy heart and lungs, stabilizes stress, and builds stamina (Waehner).
Furthermore, athletes must perform cardiovascular exercise year-round (with proper rest cycles and periodization). If an athlete chooses to only lift in the off season, he will spend most of next season recovering his cardio. It is the "Two steps forward, one back" principle. On the contrary, if an athlete takes part in cardiovascular exercise year-round, he can continue to progress year wrong.
There are different schools of thought on whether you should do cardio on the days you lift or not. Personally, I've done both and had comparable results with both. Experiment with what works best for you. The important thing is that you do it. Everything else is secondary.
In conclusion, I believe that cardio should absolutely be performed in conjunction with weight training year-round (with obvious regard to periodization and one's own recovery ability), regardless of whether one is trying to lose, gain, or maintain weight.
Besides, no one likes being slow!
Bonus Question: Which Cardio Exercise Do You Find To Be The Most Boring? Which Do You Enjoy The Most?
Long, low intensity exercise on any type of machine is boring. The movements are literally mechanical, and the end is nowhere in sight. The same motions are repeated over and over. The scenery never changes. "Boredom" is a very kind word.
Grappling, on the other hand, is great fun. Grappling, in this context, refers to Brazilian Jiu-jitsu or submission wrestling. It is somewhat similar to high school wrestling, except there are no pins. The object is to force your opponent to "submit" (give up) via a "submission hold."
A submission hold is typically a painful joint lock or choke/stranglehold. While it sounds strange, I have never met anyone who has grappled and not immediately loved it. For more about grappling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, check out this Wikipedia page.
- Cosgrove, Alwyn. "Undulating Periodization." BodyBuilding.com 16 Mar 2007
- "Grappling." Wikipedia.org 08 Mar 2007 17 Mar 2007
- Mahler, Mike. "Aggressive Strength Q & A." BodyBuilding.com, 16 Mar 2007
- Waenher, Paige. "Why You Need Cardio Exercise." About.com, 17 Mar 2007
3rd Place - Redhawk76
View This Author's BodySpace Here.
Being a bodybuilder, I need no extra motivation to get in the gym 4 times a week and train with weights. Cardio is slightly different, however. Many bodybuilders, myself included, live for this sport. Day in and out lifting and nutrition is on the mind.
Cardio on the other hand, is not such a desirable activity. It is, however, essential to having a complete physique, and perhaps more importantly, to living a healthy life. The benefits of cardio are endless, and yet we still struggle to be consistent with it.
Cardio is very demanding, with little immediate gratification. When you hit the weights, overcoming the weights and breaking a personal record is an awesome feeling and keeps you coming back. Completing a couple miles on the treadmill generally won't have the same impact. However, finding a place with some great scenery outside can motivate you a little more to get moving.
Making Cardio Fun: How Can You Make Cardio Fun?
The best way to make cardio enjoyable is to constantly mix up your routine. Nobody wants to sit on the bike for 45 minutes staring at a wall 5 days a week. There are many forms of cardio that can be very enjoyable. Sometimes, unfortunately, it depends on the time of year and the weather.
Summer is clearly the best time for making cardio fun, and is why I tend to lose weight throughout the summer rather easily. Cardio can be extremely fun during the summer by playing any sports outdoors, which allow you to burn many calories while enjoying yourself.
You can also select trails to run on that provide some great scenery. Not to mention, if you are running outside, you have to eventually get back to your starting point. You can't just hit the stop button like on the treadmill and me done.
If you're looking for a way to make cardio at the gym more fun, it is all about what you bring with you. Obviously an iPod or other music player will help you get through the chore of cardio. Eventually the music will not keep you entertained long enough to complete your workout, however. When this ceases to entertain you, I suggest reading of some sort.
When I bring a good book to the gym, I can stay on the bike much longer. Magazines work wonders as well, as I can stay on the machine while completing almost a whole magazine.
Exercises: What Are Some Effective And Fun Cardio Exercises? Be As Descriptive As Possible.
Apart from the boring machines at your gym, there are many cardio exercises that can be fun, and utilized in your gym.
The first one is jump roping. Whenever a cardio routine gets stale for me I go to jump roping.
If you were to jump rope consistently, it would most likely get very boring; however, coming off of the machines, it is great to mix it up for a short while.
If that goes stale, hopefully your gym will have a punching bag. This is a great way to really let out some aggression while keeping your mind off the actual task at hand. This can be very fun to perform once or twice a week.
Racquetball & Basketball:
Other more conventional ways to enjoy cardio at your gym include racquetball and basketball. Competition always makes cardio more enjoyable, so hopefully you can find the people who want to compete with you.
If you are on your own, however, you might have to just make the machines more exciting. This can be done by upping the intensity. By upping the intensity you will be testing your body much more. This will be more relatable to the feeling of resistance training. You can really test yourself, and feel good if you improve week to week.
A good program with high intensity is HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training. This not only keeps you entertained easier, but you don't have to do it as long.
A basic example is to warm up for 5 minutes, then go as hard as possible for 30 seconds, and low intensity for 30 seconds. Continue this for a total of 10 minutes, and then cool down. You can slowly build up to a 20 minute session. This is the progress that will keep you interested. This is still nowhere near the fun you will have in the summer time outside.
My absolute favorite form of cardio is performed only during the summer, and it takes place on the beach. Sand volleyball is a very intense workout, and burns a crazy amount of calories. It is by far the most enjoyable, and provides motivation as well. Everyone plays volleyball with their shirts off, so you'd better be in good shape if you want to show anything off.
Cardio & Weight Training: When Should Cardio Be Performed In Conjunction With Weight Training? Why?
Preferably cardio should be performed many hours before, or many hours after weight training. Often times this is not possible for the average human. We have busy schedules, and cannot always get to the gym twice in one day. When this is the case, and you are forced to do both in one session, you must perform cardio after weight lifting.
Cardio dramatically reduces your glucose and glycogen levels, leaving you with little energy for your weight lifting workout. By performing weight lifting first, you will be ready to burn primarily fat when you begin your cardio. Performing cardio first will also make you susceptible for catabolism, and simply put, you will not have as an effective weight training session.
Now if WEIGHT loss is your primary concern, by all means, perform cardio first. But you didn't venture to Bodybuilding.com to lose weight by all means necessary. You want to lose fat perhaps, and maximize muscle mass. You must perform cardio after weight training if you want to achieve this. And remember, if possible, perform cardio around 8 hours after weight training.
Bonus Question: Which Cardio Exercise Do You Find You Be The Most Boring? Which Do You Enjoy The Most?
The cardio that is most boring to me is simply running on the treadmill. Running outside in areas of great scenery are far more enjoyable, but running is running. When I am on a treadmill staring at a wall, all I can think of is when do I get to stop.
There are certain ways to make the treadmill more exciting, as noted above. However, there are not many things I would dread more than a simple run on the treadmill with no headphones or other accessories.
My favorite type of cardio is any sort of competitive game with my friends, especially sand volleyball. Perhaps you wouldn't consider this cardio, however, although it burns incredible calories.
In terms of true cardio, I really enjoy reading a good book on the stationary bike. This isn't anywhere near as fun as what can be accomplished outdoors, but it makes cardio more bearable. I also enjoy the punching bag a great deal, as you can really get out your aggression and take your mind off things.
One other recommendation if you struggle to maintain a consistent regimen is to join an aerobic class. The only one I've ever participated in was a spinning class, and it is the best cardio there is. It is very demanding, but bring a friend in with you and you will not let yourself stop.
Having the instructor push you will allow you to accomplish a great deal, with no possibility of quitting like you could on the aerobic machines.
Remember, weight training is only part of the battle. You must perform cardio if you want the vast cardiovascular benefits, as well as the fat loss.