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5 Common Cardio Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them!)

Cardio is one of the most important types of workout. Cardiovascular endurance is one of the four pillars of fitness, so it's imperative that you pay attention to your heart and lung function during exercise. However, there are a few common cardio mistakes that can actually have a negative impact on your health if you're not careful. Avoid these mistakes like the plague:

1. Taking a break.

While it's necessary to rest between sets of weight training (to give the muscles time to purge lactic acid and replenish glucose), you should NEVER rest in your cardio training. The workouts only build up your cardiovascular endurance if you maintain a higher heart rate—you'll never do that by resting every few minutes. Start the workout and don't stop until you finish!

2. Sticking with jogging.

Steady state, low-intensity exercise does have a place in your workout. It can be the "finisher" that helps you to burn a few extra calories of fat after a punishing weight training session. However, if you only jog, you actually end up storing more fat and burning muscle. The key to seeing results is to increase the intensity of your cardio workouts. Try High-Intensity Interval Training, mixing 90-second intervals of low-intensity exercise with 30 to 60-second intervals of high-intensity exercise. A few months of HIIT, and you'll see serious results!

3. Eating too much.

Finishing your workout with a high-calorie, high-carb post-training meal is a terrible idea. While your body does need some calories to replenish lost energy, the ideal is in the vicinity of 200 to 400 calories, preferably with more protein than carbs and fats. Try to avoid any post-workout snacking, but focus on getting a high-protein shake or meal that will deliver the nutrients your body needs.

4. Taking it one day at a time.

If you don't have a plan, how will you know your progress or the results of your efforts to date? People who plan their workout as they arrive at the gym will rarely see long-term progress in their cardio. You need to know what you're going to do every day, and you need a weekly overview that will hit your fitness from every angle. If you can't come up with a plan, work with a trainer who will.

5. Sticking with workouts you hate.

Just because you believe jogging or cycling is the most effective workout, that doesn't mean you HAVE to do the same workout every day. In fact, it's recommended that you switch things up—not only to stop your body from adapting to the same workout but also to prevent boredom. Boredom is the number one enemy of fitness. If you're bored or sick or your workout, you're far less motivated to actually get through it. Changing things up—going for a run outside, taking your bike for a ride, joining a dance class, or trying kickboxing, for example—will go a long way toward keeping you on track with your fitness efforts.

Don't let your cardio workouts get you down! Try these tips to keep you working strong and building your cardiovascular endurance the smart way.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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