Is Your Cardio Really Working?

Is Your Cardio Really Working?

Have you ever noticed the “heart rate” area of a treadmill or elliptical and wondered what that was for exactly, or why it matters? Or do you think it’s just for old people or people with health conditions? Well it’s not, and knowing your target heart rate could be your ticket to doing some serious fat-burning!

There are actually two target heart rates to consider. The first is your fat-burning zone. It’s right above the “warm-up” level, and below the heart-pounding cardio level. Depending on your age and fitness level, you can be at the fat-burning heart rate while walking briskly or lightly jogging. At this pace, your body uses its stored fat for energy.

The second is your cardio zone. At this level your body uses both fat and muscle as energy, so this will definitely slim you down if you think you look too bulky. Just be careful, because doing a lot of “cardio zone” cardio can make you appear flabby and melt away hard-earned muscle.

To calculate your target fat-burning zone heart rate, follow this formula:

220 – {your age} x .6 = fat burning zone

To calculate cardio zone:

220 – {your age} x .85 = cardio zone

Knowing your target heart rate allows you to make sure every cardio session does exactly what you want it to do. Personally, I like to do 5 minutes of fat-burning, then 5 minutes of cardio, and repeat for about half an hour. Play around with different ways to get your heart rate at the proper level, use different cardio machines, and see what works best for you!

 

 

 

 

Fat-Burning Treadmill Workout

cardio2

This is my favorite treadmill workout because it’s HIIT, and it has enough variety for time to pass quickly. I usually this for 30-40 minutes.

  1. Warmup — Walking 3 minutes. Speed: 3.5
  2. Side shuffles right. 45 seconds. Speed 3.0. (Start at 2.5 just to get the hang of it, and increase as much as you are comfortable with. Keep knees bent and arms in front of you when shuffling.)
  3. Side shuffles left. 45 seconds. Speed 3.0.
  4. Sprint. 30 seconds. Speed 8.0.
  5. Walk. 1 minute. Speed 3.2.

Repeat (excluding the warmup) until 30 minutes is up.

The treadmill speeds that are listed here are close to what I do. If it seems too hard or too easy for you, simply adjust as needed! Remember to keep pushing yourself each time. Try sprinting a few seconds longer than you did last time, or increase the speed a little every time 🙂

Cardio And Abs Workout

cardio and abs

Circuit 1: (Repeat circuit 3x total)

  1. Lying Hip Lifts (20) (Use lower abs to lift hips)

hip lift

2. Stability Ball V-Up (15) (Use lower abs to raise legs)

v up

3. Stability Ball Crunches (20) (Be sure to get full back extension in “A”)

crunches

Rest 45 seconds.

Circuit 2: (Repeat circuit 3x total)

1. Side Plank With Dip (20 each side) (Feel the burn in your obliques)

side plank

2. Side Plank With Rotation (add dumbbell when ready) (12 each side) (Use abs to twist)

side-plank-rotation.preview

3. Reverse Crunches (20) (Use lower abs to pull up legs and lift hips)

reverse crunch

Rest 45 seconds.

Circuit 3: Cardio!

Feel free to choose the type of cardio you want to do, but don’t do the same type of cardio every time you workout. (i.e. using the same machine, the same level, the same intensity, etc). Here are my favorite cardio workouts:

  1. 20 minutes of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) on the elliptical, treadmill, or stationary bike. HIIT means you set the controls to “Interval.” When the level is difficult you sprint, and when it’s easy you go slowly and rest. Your “sprint” or “work” interval should last between 15 and 30 seconds, but you should not be able to do it longer than that. If you can, it’s too easy and you need to make the level harder. Try my favorite treadmill HIIT workout for some good ideas.
  2. 20 minutes of HIIT on the step master. Watch this video to see how that is done the best! I would only recommend using the step master once or twice a week.
  3. 40 minutes of steady pace cardio on the elliptical, treadmill, or stationary bike.
  4. 30 minutes of steady pace cardio on the step master.

I am a HUGE believer in HIIT because it burns twice the fat in half the time. How is that not the best thing ever? I never really saw great results in my fitness level when I only did steady pace cardio, so if you’re looking for the next step to torch that fat, you’ve found it! I can do three sessions of HIIT on the step master one week and see a full on six-pack by the end. It’s amazing, let me tell you.

So there you go! Make sure you’re really going slowly through your abs exercises so you recruit those abs, and try not to half-ass them by the end. Speed is NOT essential to making those exercises work!

Good luck with the workout, and let’s burn some calories!

Spring Break Workout Plan

Spring Break Workout Plan

It’s starting to show up everywhere. In Target with the huge bikini display, the mall with all the workout clothes, and definitely Pinterest with everyone’s “get into shape” boards, showcasing motivational toned abs and a perky butt. Oh yeah, and at the gym! Did you even know that many people have a membership to your gym?? Welp, you guessed it… IT’S SPRING BREAK SEASON!!!!

And unless you’re a crazy gym-goer and have eaten nothing bad for you at all since the holidays, you might be getting a little panicky about how to lose those last few pounds and get that toned muscle that you know is hiding somewhere beneath your winter layer. Instead of frantically scouring the Internet for quick-working fad diets that you know you’ll give up by this weekend, keep calm and read on :). I’ve got you taken care of.

I’m going to share with you my meal plans and workouts that have helped me make more progress over the past 2 months than I’ve ever had, ever. We’ll be doing these together since my spring break vacay starts EXACTLY one month from today, and we can record our progress together!

The Way It Works

You’ll be following a basic 5-day program that you repeat every week until your deadline. Since our bodies quickly adapt to any workout, you can modify the workouts to get some variety week to week, and I’ll post my modifications so we can all be on the same page.

Workouts

Here is the 5-day plan to be repeated (with modification) week to week:

I will post the exercise circuits and modification ideas for each day on a separate post and link them back to that list.

Diet

The best way to lose weight, burn fat, and tone up is to have a diet high in lean protein and healthy fats, and low in carbohydrates. You should only be eating carbohydrates at breakfast, if you want, and after a workout. Vegetables are free-for-all and should be consumed at every meal! Fruit is ok, but stick to the ones lowest in sugar and high in antioxidants, like grapefruit, and berries.

Proteins:

  • ground turkey
  • extra lean ground beef
  • chicken
  • fish
  • salmon
  • egg whites

Fats:

  • almonds
  • mixed nuts
  • avocado
  • natural almond butter
  • natural peanut butter (I don’t recommend a lot of peanut butter though)
  • fish oil
  • egg yolks

Healthy Carbohydrates: (slow-digesting as opposed to quick-digesting)

  • brown rice
  • quinoa
  • sweet potatoes
  • oatmeal

Try to eat at least 4 small meals a day, so your metabolism increases and you burn through calories quicker. To help you out, here is my basic meal plan for a typical day:

  • First I have a detoxifying smoothie with spinach or kale, cucumbers, peppers, celery, lemon juice, and half a banana. You can find more recipes for delicious ones here!
  • Breakfast: Ground beef and eggs, oatmeal if you want (fats in the morning keep your energy levels up all day!)
  • Lunch: Spinach salad with grilled chicken, veggies, and a vinaigrette dressing
  • 2nd Lunch (?) or Post-Workout Meal: Ground turkey with eggs, brown rice, steamed broccoli + mixed nuts
  • Dinner: White fish or chicken, steamed mixed veggies
  • Snack: Mixed nuts, berries, raw veggies

Other, more exciting recipes to choose from are here!

Notice that the amount of calories tapers by the end of the day, so that when you go to sleep you don’t pack on pounds by unused calories consumed too late in the day. Make sure you avoid at all costs all fast food, processed foods, sugary foods AND DRINKS (yup that means Starbucks frappuccinos are out!), especially towards the end of the day. For best results, I would also recommend cutting out most dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt.

Tips

I don’t know why, but by bedtime my self-discipline always dwindles, and I’m very prone to breaking my rules and having ice cream at night. That’s why I make a point to drink a lot of water towards the end of the day to stay full, have some of my favorite flavored tea to sip when I have a sweet tooth (honey isn’t too bad), and go to bed as soon as I start getting tired so I avoid staying up and eating.

I can’t wait to go on this journey with you guys! It’s going to be a hard road sometimes, but when you can post those pictures on Instagram and Twitter of you looking hot next to all your friends in a bikini, you’ll be SO GLAD you did this!

Good luck and let’s get started!

Read about the Top 5 Mistakes Women Make In the Gym , 10 Fat-Loss Tips for Women, and check out the Workouts page for more exercise ideas!