Getting The Most Out Of Your Indoor Cardio Workouts

 

cardio workoutsWhat is the best kind of workout to do on a treadmill, elliptical trainer, or stationary bike? Trick question! There is no single best indoor cardio workout. The most effective exercise program is one that includes a variety of different types of workouts.

Cardio fitness is not one-dimensional. Each type of workout develops certain dimensions better than others. A balanced program that cycles through the various workout types will build your overall cardio fitness more effectively than a one-sided program.

You’ve probably heard this before. Most exercisers are aware that they should include variety in their program but they continue to do the same steady, moderate-intensity workout over and over anyway. The reason is that it takes a lot of mental energy to come up with a new workout to do every time you step onto the treadmill or elliptical trainer or sit down on a stationary bike seat. Exercise already takes a lot of physical energy. We’d rather not have to think on top of that!

But adding variety to your cardio routine doesn’t have to fry your brain. There are four basic types of workouts you should do. Each one focuses on a different dimension of cardio fitness. All you have to do is cycle through them repeatedly, altering each one a bit as appropriate with each repetition. Let’s take a look at these workouts.

The Fat-Burner
You’ve heard of the fat-burning zone. Research has shown that exercisers of all fitness levels burn fat at the highest possible rate when they keep their heart rate steady at about 65 percent of maximum. When you go faster than that your muscles start to burn more carbohydrate and less fat. When you go slower your muscles don’t burn carbs but they also burn less fat.

You can get an estimate of your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. So if you’re 35 years old, your maximum heart rate is likely to be around (220 – 35 =) 185 beats per minute. Sixty-five percent of that number is 120 bpm. So to do the Fat-Burner you just have to strap on a heart rate monitor and stride or pedal at 120 bpm (or whatever your personal fat-burning heart rate is) for at least 20 minutes.

Exactly how long you continue is up to you, but note that the longer you continue, the more your muscles will rely on fat for fuel. It’s not hard to do fairly lengthy Fat-Burner workouts because the intensity is relatively low and comfortable.

If you don’t have a heart-rate monitor, a 10-point perceived effort scale (where “1” is very easy and “10” is as hard as you can go) can be used to find your fat-burning zone. An effort rating of “4” corresponds to your maximum rate of fat burning.

The Strength Builder
To emphasize the strength component of your cardio training you need to work against greater-than-normal resistance. To do this on a treadmill you can increase the incline to simulate going uphill. On many elliptical trainers you can increase the incline, the resistance, or both. And on a stationary bike you can increase the resistance or (on some machines) the gear ratio.

It’s best to use an interval format for Strength Builder cardio workouts. This entails doing short bursts at high intensity with easier recovery periods between them. Here’s a sample Strength Builder:

1. Warm up for 5 minutes at effort level 2.
2. Increase the incline or resistance of the machine and maintain an effort level of 7 for 1 minute.
3. Reduce the incline or resistance and maintain an effort level of 3 for 2 minutes.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 a total of four to eight times, depending on your fitness level.
5. Cool down for 5 minutes at an effort level of 2.

The Aerobic Maximizer
The most effective way to increase your body’s ability to process oxygen—a key component of cardio fitness—is through workouts featuring a sustained effort at a moderately high intensity. The intensity sweet spot for these workouts is a perceived effort level of 6 on a 1-10 scale. It should feel challenging but still manageable. Here’s a sample Aerobic Maximizer:

1. Warm up for 5 minutes at an effort level of 2.
2. Increase your effort level to 6 and maintain it for 10 minutes.
3. Cool down for 5 minutes at an effort level of 2.

The Speed Booster
Interval workouts featuring very short efforts at very high intensities (or what endurance athletes call “speed workouts”) are great for improving body composition. Not only do you burn calories at a high rate during these workouts but your metabolism remains elevated for a long time afterward so your body continues to burn extra fat at rest. Here’s a Speed Booster to try:

1. Warm up for 5 minutes at an effort level of 2.
2. Increase your effort level to 8 for 30 seconds.
3. Reduce your effort level back to 2 for 90 seconds.
4. Repeat steps 3 and 4 a total of six to 12 times, depending on your fitness level.
5. Cool down for 5 minutes at an effort level of 2.

See for Yourself
Adding variety to your cardio routine is an important way to improve your results. And it doesn’t have to be a mental burden. Give these workouts a try and see for yourself!

Matt FitzgeraldMatt Fitzgerald is the author of Racing Weight: How to Get Lean for Peak Performance and serves as a Training Intelligence Specialist for PEAR Sports.

 

 

Homemade Granola Recipe

I'm not much into cooking so whenever I come across quick, easy to throw together recipe that is healthy, I am all over it! I make up a huge batch of this (and usually double the recipe) and it keeps for a long time in the fridge. This is a great snack sprinkled on Greek Yogurt and berries, great as a cereal, sprinkled over fresh fruit or eating straight out of the container.  Enjoy!

Homemade Granola Recipe
homemade granola recipe

Makes 4 pints

3 C. Old fashioned rolled oats (don't use quick oats)
1/4 C. Sesame seeds
1/4 C. Sunflower seeds
1/2 C. flaked, unsweetened coconut
1/2 C. Sliced almonds (I buy them whole and crush them a bit in the morter and pestle)
2 T. Flax meal
1 C. Chopped nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts)
1/3 C. Vegetable oil (I always use EV Olive Oil and it works great - doesn't taste different and is healthier!)
1/2 C. Local honey
1 C. Dried Fruit (blueberries, cherries, cranberries, raisin assortment, etc)
1 T. Vanilla Extract
2 t. Cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt

  1. In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients except cinnamon.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat honey and oil until honey is dissolved and bubbly around the pan edges. Remove from heat and add vanilla extract and cinnamon. Stir well.
  3. Add all wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  4. Lightly spray a cookie sheet with oil and spread granola mixture over entire sheet.
  5. Bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and delicious, stirring ever 10 minutes or so. Rotate the pan once during cooking.
  6. Best to store in refrigerator or freezer to maintain crispiness.

How to Schedule Maps

 

1. Go to iFit.com and login to your account.

2. Return to iRunMaps.com and find the workout you want to add to your iFit machine schedule.

3. Click on the name of the map route OR View Details to take you to the details page.


list-view 

4. Click on the link towards the bottom that starts with http://www.iFit.com...

click-link

5. When the new window pops up, click "Schedule Workout" and it will add to your iFit Schedule.

schedule workout

Search and Schedule iFit Maps

KEYWORD SEARCH

You can filter through thousands of maps by using either the Keyword Search OR Filter Results on the SEARCH page. Enter in any keyword (marathon, 5k, 4.9 mi, London, castle, beach, trail, island, etc)

keyword-search 1


FILTER RESULTS

On the SEARCH page, you can filter and narrow down from thousands of maps! The more specific you are, the less results you will see. The less fields you enter information into, the broader your results will be.

filter 1

  1. Category (Location)  UNDER CONSTRUCTION - narrow down the continent, country or state. Keep typing to add more than 1 location
  2. Street View - select on Yes or Areas with/without
  3. Features - choose which features you're looking for in your workout (beach, incline, city, trail, etc)
  4. Distance - choose the distance range(s) you want or input the exact miles
  5. Incline - select the max incline you want or input the exact incline
  6. Elevation - select the max elevation you want or input the exact elevation
  7. Click "Search" button

MAP SEARCH

On the MAP SEARCH page you can perform the following searches:

  1. Location - Enter in a country, state, city
  2. Radius - Enter a number to search in km or miles
  3. Click Search

From the results, click on a pinpoint location and it will display the map name. Click on the map name to take you to the entry or click on the star to favorite it and look at it or do it later.

map search 1


HOW TO SCHEDULE MAPS

  1. Go to iFit.com and login to your account.
  2. Return to iRunMaps.com and find the workout you want to add to your iFit machine schedule.
  3. Click on the name of the map route OR View Details to take you to the details page.


list-view 

4. Click on the link towards the bottom that starts with http://www.iFit.com...

click-link

5. When the new window pops up, click "Schedule Workout" and it will add to your iFit Schedule. Now go to your machine, click the "Maps" button and you'll see the workout you added.

schedule workout