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More Cardio in Your Workout

Joe Fleming explains how to safely incorporate more cardio into your workout routine.

When it comes to cardiovascular exercise, many gym-goers fall into one of two camps. They either loathe cardio and avoid it at all costs, or they exclusively do cardio and neglect resistance training (usually because they are crunched for time or they think it will make them bulky). Neither of these extremes is particularly beneficial to overall health. It is not ideal to do excessive amounts of cardio on a daily basis (this can lead to excess inflammation in the body and increase your risk of injury). But, some cardio is necessary for strengthening the heart and improving your endurance.

A moderate amount of cardiovascular exercise is also beneficial for people who are trying to lose weight. Listed below are some tips that will help you add more cardiovascular exercise to your workout routine to improve your health and performance without injuring yourself or getting burned out.

Add Bursts of Cardio Between Sets

If your workout time is limited and you do not want to shorten the amount of time you spend lifting weights, remember that you do not have to spend thirty minutes on the Stairmaster to reap the benefits of cardiovascular exercise. It is perfectly acceptable to add short bursts of cardio into your workout between sets.

Once you finish a set of an exercise, spend thirty to sixty seconds doing a cardio exercise like jumping jacks, high knees, or mountain climbers. You will keep your heart rate up during your workout, which will increase your calorie burn and help you see results faster.

Try Low-Weight/High-Rep Workouts

If you are not concerned with building tons of muscle but still enjoy lifting weights, switching up some of your workouts to be low-weight/high-rep can help you improve your endurance in a more interesting way that walking in place on the treadmill.

In addition to using lighter weights and higher reps for the same exercises you normally do, you can also get rid of the weight altogether and try bodyweight exercises for a set amount of time instead. For example, instead of doing three sets of 10 dumbbell squats, set a timer for one minute and do as many bodyweight squats as possible before time runs out.

Incorporate More Compound Movements

Focusing on compound movements is another great option for people who love lifting weights but still want to improve their endurance and give their heart rate a boost.

Compound movements like squats and deadlifts require you to use multiple muscle groups at once. This requires more energy and causes your body to burn more calories than you would with an isolation exercise like bicep curls.

You can also combine isolation exercises to create a more challenging compound exercise. For example, stationary lunges with a bicep curl or glute bridges with a chest press.

Add Plyometrics to Your Warm-up

Plyometrics, such as lunge jumps or jump squats, are explosive movements that require a great deal of power.

Many people, when they want to add more cardio to their workouts, make the mistakes of using plyometric exercises as a "finisher" movement to increase their overall calorie burn.

There are a couple of pretty significant problems with this approach, though.

First, plyometrics require a lot of power and energy. If you are doing them at the end of your workout, when the body has already been taxed, you are not going to reap the full benefits of practicing them. You are also more likely to injure yourself if you are adding them to the end of your workout since your form will probably be compromised.

To see the greatest benefits from practicing plyometrics, you should use them as a warm-up exercise instead. Research shows that doing plyometrics before a workout can help prime the body to increase your power and overall performance.

Some good plyometric exercises to add to your routine include:

  • Box Jumps
  • Burpees
  • Jump squats
  • Fast rows with a resistance band

Increase Your NEAT

If you simply do not have time to add more cardio to your gym workouts and are not interested in utilizing the techniques mentioned above, one of the best things you can do is to work on increasing your non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), or the number of calories you burn outside of the gym.

Some simple ways to increase your steps and burn more calories include:

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator (and take them one at a time to get the greatest calorie burn for your buck)
  • Hold meetings on foot (while walking to get coffee or strolling around the block)
  • Use a standing desk
  • Walk laps in the airport during layovers
  • Walk or cycle to work or to run errands whenever possible
  • Park far away from the entrance to your office, the store, and other buildings
  • Take a lap around the grocery store before and after your shopping trip for some extra movement

Avoiding Injuries

When they are adding more cardio to their workouts, some people fall into the trap of doing too much, too quickly. This typically causes them to burn themselves out or get injured.

To avoid injuries that could totally side-line you, be sure to keep these tips in mind when you start a new cardio routine:

  • Ease into it by starting with increasing NEAT, then move on to more advanced exercises
  • When running or walking long distances, use braces, arch supports, and other tools designed help treat common foot conditions
  • Work with a trainer when doing exercises that you are not familiar with (this is especially true when it comes to plyometrics)
  • Wear a heart rate monitor to make sure you are not pushing yourself too far
  • Stay hydrated

Final Thoughts

Cardiovascular exercise is important for overall health and fitness, but it can be hard to figure out the best way to add it to your workouts. Keep these tips in mind to improve your endurance, burn more calories, and see the best results from your workouts!


Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • FLEMING, J. (2018) More Cardio In Your Workout [WWW] Available from: https://www.brianmac.co.uk/articles/article334.htm [Accessed

About the Author

Joe Fleming is the President at ViveHealth.com. Passionate about healthy lifestyles and living a full life, he enjoys sharing and expressing these interests through his writing. With a goal to inspire others and fight ageism, Joe writes to help people of all backgrounds and ages overcome life's challenges. His work ranges from articles on wellness, holistic health and ageing to social narratives, motivational pieces and news stories. For Joe, helping others is vital.

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