There is no denying that cardio is an important part of any workout routine. After all, the heart is a muscle. Just like when you are routinely pumping iron, your biceps and triceps become bigger and more toned.
Then when you fall out of habit, the muscles begin to atrophy. The definition begins to deplete. The strength disappears.
One of the worst parts about cardio is that whether you’re running on side streets and through parks, or swaying away on an elliptical, the whole task itself can be pretty mundane.
We are constantly wondering when we can stop!
Losing a taste for doing cardio makes it that much easier to quit doing the exercises altogether. What happens when you start working out a muscle?
Once you incorporate cardio into your workout routine, it is important to not get out of the habit. Your heart is the most vital muscle in your body. So if you are going to make time to work on six pack abs, then you can make time for some cardio.
The key to sticking to your cardio session is to spice it up by mixing things up. After all, variety is the spice of life.
Here are some tips to make your next cardio workout a bit less mundane.
1. Perfect Your Playlist
When you are doing cardio, it is essentially just yourself and your thoughts. Sometimes its necessary to enter a third party into the equation to offer as a distraction. Music is the perfect accompaniment. Put your personal library on shuffle and create a playlist. You will find some songs more than others will give you an extra boost of energy. Remove the songs you aren’t feeling from rotation and perfect the ultimate cardio playlist that will push you through your session.
You can also try apps like 8 Tracks, Pandora, and Spotify that have pre-made running mixes. Customize by letting the app know what you like and don’t like.
2. Work on Your Form
Just like with yoga and weight-training, after a few cardio sessions you can easily find yourself phoning it in. Just going through motions will not give you the sculpted results you desire. Think about your body and how your form looks during this cardio routine.
Now, go through the checklist from the top to bottom:
- Neck: It may sound weird, but imagine that the back of your neck is reaching out toward the sky. That’s our correct posture. Our spines kind of curve at the top. Once you have this curve down, move to the next checkpoint.
- Shoulders: Round them down and black, gliding the blades down the spine. Check to see if you scrunching your shoulders. You want to keep as much distance as possible between them and your ears as possible.
- Arms: Check in with these limbs, ensuring they sit at about a 90 degree angle. Allow them to swing front and back with relaxed hands.
- Legs: Try to make a seamless stride so that the hips remain above the knees, which remain above the ankles.
- Knees: Imagine driving them up toward the ceiling. This will help you gain strides.
3. Play With Functions
If you are on a treadmill and you are bored, then change it up. Go faster. Switch up the incline. Maybe try out a pre-made course. As long as you are moving, you are getting your cardio in. You don’t need to do the same thing each and every time.
4. Switch Up Your Step
Maybe it’s the not machine that needs a change of pace. Perhaps it is you. Try doing a side gallop. Make sure you are on a 0 percent incline and reduce the speed. Turn both of your feet as well as your whole body toward the left side, grabbing the left handle on the treadmill for support.
With your right foot, step toward the front of the treadmill and then hop your left to meet. Do this for 15 revolutions and then hop to a run before switching to the other side.
If side galloping isn’t your thing, perhaps try skipping out for size. The higher the knee, the more intense the workout. It’s more fun than a typical run, too!
5. Cover the Machine
The worst thing you can do is keep track of time. It’s just like staring at a clock while you’re at work. Time will never speed up. So, out-of-sight, out-of-mind is the best scenario to take on when it comes to dealing with the clock. Cover the screen of the treadmill, elliptical, or cardio machine of choice. You will never have the power to speed up time, so there is no need to obsess over it. It will only make your routine that much more unbearable.
6. Listen to a Podcast
There is a podcast for every taste these days. Whether you are into books, conspiracy theories, fashion, wedding planning, or coding there is something for you. A lot of podcasts are also conveniently timed on even numbers like 20, 30, or 60 minutes. So, that may be your motivating factor of this workout. You put it in your mind that you MUST complete the workout until the end of the podcast.
7. Binge Watch
The overlying theme here is distract yourself. Catch up on your favorite shows. If you have a cable provider, almost everyone has an app where you can access your DVR and On-Demand catalogs. If you are a cord-cutter, look no further than the Netflix or Hulu app.
8. Bring a Friend
Friends are great to pass time with. That is why you SPEND time with them in the first place. Having a buddy tag along will not only keep you from sitting in your own boring thoughts, but it also keeps you accountable. You have somebody in this thing alongside you. Chances are, they need just as much motivation as you do. Having somebody there will keep you in check.
9. Focus on the Breaths
Breathing is something that we take for granted because it happens autonomously. However, paying attention to your breath will do wonders for your stride. Marrying the actions together will not only help you focus on something other than the unmovable clock, but it will also help strengthen your moves.
Breathing through the movement helps keep blood flow steady, which allows you to push through the workout. So focusing on your breath will allow to workout even harder, and help alleviate your boredom.
10. Create a Mantra
Taking the breaths and upping your game to the next level, try incorporating a mantra. Mantras are great because they are reinforcing all the positive things you are doing for your body, even though it is feeling exhausted. You can go with something related to running like, “Easy feet,” or something with a more overall uplifting tone like, “I am strong.” Positive affirmation is essential to confidence boost. With your confidence piqued, your workout routine may no longer feel so mundane.
12. Cut Your Treadmill Time
A little bit goes a long way and something is better than nothing. In an ideal world, you would be doing 30 minutes of cardio 5 days a week. However, if you hate cardio that much, cut the time in half.
Fill in designated treadmill time with other forms of cardio or simply switch to another workout. Maybe even sign up for a class like Zumba. Go in a completely different route and try your hand at jujitsu. As long as your giving your heart some sort of workout, it will still make a positive difference.