I hate cardio workouts. And I haven't been shy about exploring this hatred on this blog. (Remember my blog “The Least of Multiple Evils?”)
But I do know that it’s good for me. One of the tenets of the In8 program is that you need cardio and strength training for good health. Honestly though, I don’t do it as often as I should. It’s the one thing that when I get overwhelmed and feel my schedule getting tight, I cancel.
My thought process goes something like this, “Ooh, I have a deadline tomorrow/toothache/hang nail/bad hair day/four unseen episodes of Glee on my DVR, I can’t possibly make that cycling class tonight. I’ll have to skip it.”
Ah yes, my excuses are endless, but creative.
Knowing my propensity to sabotage myself, I suggested to my trainer Marq that we incorporate cardio into my strength training workouts with him. Kill two birds with one stone and all that jazz.
With a sly, evil little grin Marq said, “Sure, we can do that.”
Next thing I know, in between weight lifting exercises, I’m doing Jump Squats. (Squat, touch the ground with your hands and then explode up, jumping as high as you can like you’re trying to dunk a basketball) And some hideous thing called Fast Feet. (This is that football player speed drill where you stand, legs a bit wider than your hips, bend your knees, crouch over a bit and pump your legs up and down as fast as you can.)
After four sets of Jump Squats and four sets of Fast Feet I was hyperventilating.
“You alright?” Marq asked. His voice tinged with genuine concern.
“I’m (gasp) fine. (gasp) Just need (gasp) to catch (gasp) my (gasp) breath,” I wheezed.
As I paced around the room making sure to keep my head above my heart so I wouldn’t pass out, I thought, Who’s bright idea was this?
Oh yeah, it was mine.
This is what I get for not doing cardio on my own. I get Marq standing over me with his stopwatch and telling me to “hit it.”
The upshot though, (yes there are some positives) is that I’m doing interval training—alternating high intensity activities with less intense ones—and according to the Mayo Clinic, there are some big benefits to this.
1. You'll burn more calories. The more vigorously you exercise, the more calories you'll burn — even if you increase intensity for just a few minutes at a time.
2. You'll improve your aerobic capacity. As your cardiovascular fitness improves, you'll be able to exercise longer or with more intensity. Imagine finishing your 60-minute walk in 45 minutes — or the additional calories you'll burn by keeping up the pace for the full 60 minutes.
3. You'll keep boredom at bay. Turning up your intensity in short intervals can add variety to your exercise routine.
4. You don't need special equipment. You can simply modify your current routine.
Well, I can vouch for number three. My workouts certainly aren’t boring! But the best reason for doing it is number one—you burn more calories. Who doesn’t want that!
Even though it’s killing me and I’m considering packing an oxygen tank into my gym bag, I’m sticking with this interval training thing.
If you're interested in cranking up your workout, click here for more information on interval training.