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!

 

 

 

 

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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 🙂

Shoulders and Back

shoulders and back

A lot of girls (me included, at one time) don’t think they need to develop their shoulders and back because they don’t want to look manly. But trust me, a well-toned back is one of the sexiest body parts you can have! This workout will help build narrow shoulders, help get rid of “armpit fat,” love handles, and back fat. Yeah, none of that is attractive. And the benefit to having muscular shoulders is that it makes your body more proportioned and narrows your waist, giving you more of that desired V-shape.

Circuit 1: Shoulders

1. Heavy alternating dumbbell shoulder press

shoulder press (Use the heaviest weight you can for these, if you want to build some shoulder muscle and definition. If you only want to tone, use light weight. Heavy weight= a weight where your max reps is 6-10. Light weight max reps should be 15-20. I like to do these seated on a bench, especially when using heavy weight.)

2. Front raise (20)

front raise (Use a light weight)

3. Incline bench lateral raise (15)

incline bench (Use a light weight. The reason for doing it on the incline bench is to keep constant tension on the shoulder to make the exercise more effective.)

4. Rear delt flys (light weight, 15)

You can either use dumbbells while bent at the waist as in this picture:

rear delt fly

Or you can use a rear delt machine:

rear delt machine

Rest 45 seconds. Repeat for 3x total.

Circuit 2: Back

1. Chin ups (on assisted machine if necessary) (15)

assisted chin up

2. Lat pulldown (15)

lat pulldown (use a medium-wide grip as shown)

3. Bent over row (barbell or dumbbell) (15)

bent over row (Be sure to use the underhand grip as shown. This recruits your lower lats, which gives your waist a more tapered look!)

4. Seated row (15)

seated row (Be sure to keep your back straight and chest out. Feel free to use this, or any seated row machine that your gym has).

Rest 45 seconds. Repeat for 3x total.

Circuit 3: Cardio

I purposely left out an abs session today so that they can recover, and so that you have plenty of energy for a good cardio sesh! Sometimes I like to do my cardio first, sometimes I feel like doing it after, so the order is up to you. Just make sure you get a solid 20-30 minutes of HIIT or 40 minutes of steady-pace.

Click here for my absolute favorite treadmill workout that doubles for a leg-slimmer too!

How To Reach Fitness Goals

inspiration

I know from experience it’s really easy to make goals and then hope they somehow happen without having to change your behavior. Change is uncomfortable, and it’s not easy. Change requires a lot of dedication and willpower. But change also gets you results. Once you start seeing results, I can tell you it becomes addictive. It’s easier to stick to your diet and workout plan if you can actually see it working.

If you haven’t seen any change yet, remember if you want something you’ve never had, you’ve gotta do something you’ve never done.

What areas of your diet or workout have you been neglecting or slacking on? How can you take that next step that will put you closer to your goal? Take the time to examine what changes you can make in your daily ritual, and plan a way to make them happen. When you see your results, you will see how every sacrifice is 100% worth it!

xoxo

Also, learn The Best Way To Set Goals and How To Stay Motivated here 🙂

Results Are In!

I’m about 3 weeks into Flavia Del Monte’s program Curvalicious Fitness and let me tell you. Wow. I have never been so glad I bought something before!

I have been weight training for the past two years now, and started to plateau after a year or so. I have always had a problem with how bulky my thighs were, how my shoulders weren’t built enough, and how my butt was shaped. I would do squats on squats on squats and find that they only built my legs more and my butt wasn’t growing enough to compensate! It was so frustrating.

First I thought I wasn’t doing enough cardio, so I would do long and steady jogging, intervals, I would try different machines, but nothing was giving me the real results I wanted.

Next I blamed genetics. My mom has the same kind of lower half as I naturally had, so I thought thin thighs and a bubble butt was out of the question for me.

Finally I bought Curvalicious Fitness. Honestly, I didn’t really believe anything would change for me, but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to try. What I realized was that I had been working my legs out like a male would, training for bulk, instead of how a female should, aiming to tone thighs and build glutes. (Duh! Can’t believe I hadn’t thought of that before!) Why would you use heavy weights on muscles you want to tone and areas you just want to lose fat from? I had always thought that less weight = less results, when now I see that you have to know when to have less weight and when to have more.

This is what I learned:

  1. Split leg/butt day into 2 days. Make one day a quads and calves day, and the other glutes and hamstrings.
  2. On quads/calves day, use lighter weights with an emphasis on plyometrics
  3. On glutes/hamstrings day, use heavy weights with only some plyometrics
  4. Always do circuits (especially for lower body workouts. It burns more fat and calories)

Since glutes and hamstrings are slow-twitch muscles, they respond better to heavy weights. For our quads, however, we don’t necessarily want them so built (unless you naturally have really thin thighs and want them bigger), so we use lighter weight combined with plyometrics (i.e. anything like box jumps, squat jumps, Russian hops, etc.)

After following this program for a week, I measured the widest part of my thighs to track my progress. I am happy to announce that barely two weeks later, that measurement dropped half an inch! Now that may not seem like too much to you, but for me that is a milestone! I can already tell they look more shapely and toned, and I still haven’t done a FULL workout all the way through, so I still have room to improve.

I’ll keep you updated on my progress, but in the meantime, I’d love to hear below a time you reached a milestone goal, no matter how small, and what changes you made to get there!

For some of the workouts I have been doing, here is Better Than The Brazilian Butt Lift.

And for those lean thighs that will soon be yours…

Fat Is Bad… Or Is It?

i really

“If you don’t eat fat, you won’t get fat”… Right?

Wrong.

Forget that fat-free diet you’ve been on and take a look!

You deserve to know the truth. Fat is your friend.

Fats are essential for a well-rounded diet, and your overall health! They help out your skin, make your hair grow and stay shiny, reduce inflammation, provide energy, and boost testosterone levels (to help build muscle in the right places).

Now you may have heard about “good fats” and “bad fats,” and there’s some truth to this. The “good” fats are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, found in foods like all-natural peanut butter, and the “bad” fats are saturated fat and trans fat.

Trans fat is definitely horrible for you, it’s completely artificial, and your body was never intended to process that kind of fat, so make sure you’re reading your labels and throwing out anything with trans fat in it. Generally, trans fat is in all kinds of “junk” food and fast food. Saturated fat, though, naturally occurs with every food that contains mono and polyunsaturated fat. It’s really nothing to worry about as long as you make sure there is poly and monounsaturated fat in the foods you choose for your fat intake.

Here is how to correctly incorporate fat into your diet:

  1. Eliminate all trans fats
  2. Eliminate pro-inflammatory foods (aka all vegetable oils. Olive oil is fine)
  3. Eat wild game when you can (such as wild fish, buffalo, and other meats rich in omega-3s)
  4. Supplement with fish oil
  5. Take one meal at a time 🙂

Fish oil is one of those magical supplements that has so many benefits that you’re really shooting yourself in the foot if you don’t take it! I’ll write an article on that later because there’s so much to say about it, so make sure you check it out when it comes up.

Motivation

Motivation

 

If you’re not content staying where you are for the rest of your life, the only way to make any changes is to take that risk to try something new. Even if you’re not good at it right away, or if you think you will fail, you gotta do it. This includes the gym in particular. I used to never use the regular squat rack since I was used to the Smith machine, and was afraid that I would mess up somehow, or get stuck in a squat with barbell on top of me, unable to move. When I finally made myself conquer that fear and try the barbell for the first time, nothing went wrong at all! It was great. I quickly adapted to the different machinery, soon saw progress I was not seeing from the Smith machine. Best of all, I had removed an obstacle in the path to my goal.

When you’re faced with a choice of something inside your comfort zone, and something outside of your comfort zone, remember a specific time in the past when you did something that you were intimidated by, and how everything turned out fine. Visualize how this time will be the same, positive outcome, and don’t even consider “what ifs.” What you think is what you attract, so attract success and courage.

Then do it.