“Use this cardio workout program to increase your metabolism and burn fat. Aerobic exercises are excellent for weight loss and cardiovascular fitness.”
In the previous article, we started talking about how cardio workouts burn fat. These kinds of workouts are also called cardiovascular exercises or aerobic exercises. Now, let’s go over the MYM (Maximize Your Metabolism) Cardio Workout Formula . . .
1. The Warm-up
The first step in any exercise program, including your cardio workout, is the warm-up. The purpose of the warm-up is to elevate the core temperature of your muscles, increase your pulse rate and the flow of blood throughout your body, and prepare your body for exercise.
Your warm-up should be of low intensity, and it should last five to ten minutes.
It might include brisk walking, performing jumping jacks, or doing some indoor cycling.
The second component of an exercise program is stretching. Stretching the major muscles of the body prior to exercising prepares the body for the meat of your workout. Stretching helps to enhance your physical performance, prevents debilitating injuries, and makes you look and feel better by improving your muscle elasticity.
Proper stretching of the muscles will increase your range of motion and improve the quality of your movements.
Never stretch a cold muscle!
Always make sure your muscles are warmed up before you begin to stretch. When a muscle is properly warmed up, it is filled with healthy, oxygenated blood, which then circulates to nearby tissues and helps remove unwanted waste products from your system.
Be sure to pay special attention to the primary muscles you used in your warm-up. If you did your warm-up on a bicycle, for example, then it’s okay to stretch all of your muscles, but pay special attention to the ones you used in the warm-up. (In the example of warming up on a bicycle, it would be your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and hips.)
When stretching, remember to adhere to the following guidelines:
- Stretch slowly and in a controlled manner, and assume a comfortable position (but never bounce)
- Stretch a muscle to the point of light tension, not pain
- Hold each stretch for fifteen to thirty seconds, then slowly release and return to the starting configuration
- Take slow, deep breaths while stretching, and do not hold your breath
- Increase the effort and duration of each stretch at regular intervals, to continue improving your flexibility
- Include stretches for the entire body
- To prevent boredom, learn two or three difference stretches for each area of the body
Example Stretching Exercises
Here are some stretching exercises you should include in your workouts.
Chest and shoulders (pectorals and deltoids)
Stand and keep your knees slightly bent. Bring your arms behind your back, clasping your hands together. Slowly lift upward. If you are unable to bring your hands together, simply bring them back as far as you feel comfortable. As you become more flexible and feel like increasing the stretch, bend forward at your waist and raise your arms higher. Hold the stretch for fifteen to thirty seconds.
Upper back and shoulder (rhomboids and deltoids)
Stand and keep your knees slightly bent. Reach across the front of your body with your right hand, grasping your left elbow. Slowly pull your left elbow across your chin toward your right shoulder. You should feel slight tension on the outside of your left arm and shoulder. Hold the stretch for fifteen to thirty seconds. Repeat with your other arm.
Back of arm, upper and middle back, and shoulder (triceps, latissimus dorsi, and deltoids)
Stand and raise both arms above your head. Drop your left hand behind your head. With your right hand, reach down to your left elbow and pull your elbow toward your head. Hold the stretch for fifteen to thirty seconds. Repeat with your other arm.
Back and hips (obliques, erector spinae, and gluteus)
Sit on the floor and fully extend both legs. Bend your left leg and cross it over your right leg. Place your left foot on the floor, on the outer side of your right knee. Keeping your buttocks on the floor, turn your upper body to the left. Using your right elbow, press against the outside of your left thigh. Hold this position steady for fifteen to thirty seconds. Switch sides and repeat.
Back of thigh (hamstrings)
Stand erect, with both feet flat on the floor and close together. Slowly bend at the hips, lowering your hand to the floor while keeping your knees locked and straight. Be cautious, and move slowly on this stretch. When you feel a slight tension in your lower back or at the backs of your legs, stop lowering your body and hold that position. Taking slow, deep breaths, hold the stretch for fifteen to thirty seconds.
Front of thigh (quadriceps)
Stand near a wall or stationary object, and place your right hand on that object at shoulder level for support. Lift your left heel toward your buttocks, and grasp your foot with your left hand. Keeping your knee, hip, and ankle in the same vertical plane, slowly raise your foot, using your hand. You should feel this stretch all along the front of your thigh. When you feel a slight stretch in your leg, stop and hold the stretch for fifteen to thirty seconds. Switch legs and repeat.
3 and 4. Aerobic Conditioning and Cool-down
The third component of the exercise program is aerobic exercise. Your normal aerobic session is meant to burn fat by increasing your internal temperature. There is, however, another important aspect of this, and that’s the fourth component: the aerobic cool-down.
How often should I do cardio?
A healthy individual should engage in cardiovascular exercise at least three to five times a week, for a minimum of twenty to forty-five minutes per session, with an intensity that’s between 60 and 80 percent of your maximum heart rate (max HR).
Here, however, we’re going to increase these numbers a bit, because we’re looking for safe but fast results:
- In this program, you’re going to focus on performing your cardio workout five or six times per week, for thirty to 60 minutes per session, at a heart rate of 70 to 80 percent of your max.
Your heart rate should be monitored during your exercise routine, either by taking your pulse via your wrist or your neck or by using a heart-rate monitor. For this program, you should invest in a good heart-rate monitor. (This shouldn’t cost you more than about $75.)
People who are currently out of shape or just starting out should begin training at a somewhat lower intensity, probably between 60 and 70 percent of their max HR.
Every cardio workout, whether performed by a novice or an advanced trainer, should be started gradually.
- Begin with a five-minute warm-up at a low intensity (at about 50 to 60 percent of your max HR).
- Do your full cardio workout.
- And then end with a five- to ten-minute cool-down (at the same low intensity of 50 to 60 percent of your max HR).
Different Methods Of Cardiovascular Exercise
It’s important that you understand and implement different methods of cardiovascular exercise in your cardio workout program. For example, you can . . .
- ride a stationary bike a few days per week,
- do a brisk walking routine on a treadmill another day,
- and spend yet another day using an elliptical machine at your health club.
It is critical that you be aware of the different options (including machines) that are available for cardiovascular exercises, so that you can overcome any plateaus you encounter and prevent boredom as well.
You will eventually experience both of these outcomes (plateaus and boredom) if you continue to do the same exercise—and in the same training style—for more than sixty to ninety days.
In order to keep on realizing the kinds of results you desire, you should always be on the lookout for ways to vary your exercises and use different types of equipment. Then when you reach a plateau, you can simply change your routine and implement a new method.
Let’s now discuss the three different training methods that you should work into your cardio workout.
The first method, which is the most common and traditional way of doing cardiovascular exercise, is called continuous training.
- This means that you do one form of cardiovascular exercise, such as riding a stationary bike, for the full duration of your exercise session. As a result, you use the large muscle groups continuously for the entire routine.
This is the method that I suggest you use in each of your training sessions, unless you are already very skilled or are working out under the tutelage of a highly skilled personal trainer.
This is not to say that you shouldn’t vary your exercises, but all of my studies indicate that people get far better results from sticking to one particular exercise during each of their workouts. If you want to choose a different cardiovascular exercise for the next day’s cardio workout, that’s where variety can come into play.
The next method is good for those individuals who are already very experienced (people with more than one year of heavy aerobic training experience).
Interval training is an intermediate method of cardiovascular training. And thus should not be done by beginners.
- Interval training consists of repeated intervals of relatively low intensity, such as walking, interspersed with intervals of high intensity, such as running.
The “light” intervals should be undertaken at an intensity ranging from 50 to 70 percent of your max HR, while the “heavy” intervals should be done at an intensity ranging from 75 to 85 percent of your max HR (though you should get an okay by your physician before training at an intensity greater than 80 percent of your max HR).
In either case (light or heavy interval), the intensity should be chosen on the basis of your functional capacity and your personal goals and interests.
The light intervals (in this example, walking) should take approximately thirty to sixty seconds to complete, and the heavy (running) intervals should last about one to two minutes. This form of training is prefaced with a two- to five-minute warm-up, and then the intervals begin.
In general, after you warm up, you . . .
- first do thirty seconds of light,
- followed immediately by one minute of heavy,
- then another thirty to sixty seconds of light,
- then one to two minutes of heavy.
Each pair of intervals should be repeated only about fifteen times.
Please note: Before doing your interval training, warm up with one type of cardiovascular activity for about two to five minutes, then stretch the muscles that you used for that activity, and finally launch into your interval training.
If you’re one of those people who are easily bored, you’ll almost surely want to incorporate the next method into your cardio workout program.
The third training method, called composite training, is a combination of several different cardiovascular exercises, one after the other.
One example is . . .
- bicycling for ten minutes,
- then immediately switching to a treadmill for ten minutes,
- followed by running or jogging for ten minutes,
- then bicycling again or jumping onto an elliptical machine,
- and ending with a cool-down and stretching of the muscles used.
Or . . .
- you could walk on a treadmill for fifteen minutes,
- do the stair-climber for the next ten minutes,
- proceed to the elliptical machine,
- and then complete your thirty- to sixty-minute exercise period with a walking routine,
- and ending with a cool-down and stretching session.
If you want to take it one step further and try something really intense and exciting, combine the interval training with the composite training. For example . . .
- While you’re on the treadmill, you could either change the speed (from walking to jogging) or alter the inclination of the surface (from horizontal, say, to a 5-percent grade) every other minute.
- After ten minutes on the treadmill, you could move on to the stationary bike, changing the resistance from more intense to less intense every other minute.
Remember, you should always begin with a low-intensity warm-up and then stretch the muscles you used in that activity.
You should conclude your cardio workout with a cool-down of five to ten minutes (also at low intensity) and a stretch.
Measuring Your Heart Rate
While following this cardio workout program, I suggest monitoring your heart rate at all times in order to keep track of your intensity during any cardio workout. (Using a heart-rate monitor will make this much easier for you.)
Exercise that does not raise your heart rate to a certain level—and keep it there for thirty minutes—WILL NOT contribute significantly to reaching your maximum metabolic rate.
Target Heart Rate
The heart rate that you should maintain during exercise is called your target heart rate. There are several formulas for arriving at this figure. One of the simplest, which gives lower and upper bounds on the heart rate you should aim for, is as follows:
(220 minus your age) multiplied by 0.70 = your lower bound
(220 minus your age) multiplied by 0.80 = your upper bound
According to this formula, the target heart-rate range for a forty-year-old would be 126–144 (126 being the lower bound, and 144 the upper).
- What this means is that if forty-year-olds are exercising but their heart rate is below 126 beats per minute, then they aren’t exercising as efficiently as they should be.
- If, on the other hand, their heart rate is over 144, then they’re literally burning muscle rather than fat—and putting themselves at greater risk of heart injury during the exercise itself.
Some methods for figuring your target heart rate take individual differences into consideration. Here’s a step-by-step formula you can use for that purpose:
- Subtract your age from 220 to find your maximum heart rate
- Subtract your resting heart rate (see below) from your maximum heart rate to determine your heart-rate reserve
- Take 70 percent of your heart-rate reserve (multiply it by 0.70) to determine your heart-rate rise
- Add your heart-rate rise to your resting heart rate to find your target rate
Resting Heart Rate
Resting heart rate should be determined by taking your pulse after sitting quietly for five minutes.
Heart Rate During A Workout
When checking your heart rate during a workout, you should take your pulse within five seconds after interrupting your exercise routine, because the rate will start to go down once you stop moving.
- Count your pulse for six seconds, and multiply by ten to get the per-minute rate.
If you have access to a personal trainer, be sure to ask him or her to do this for you; otherwise, you can take a reading of your heart-rate monitor, which will give you the most accurate count without your having to stop exercising.
When To Exercise
The hour just before the evening meal is a popular time for exercise. A late-afternoon workout provides a welcome change of pace at the end of the workday and helps dissolve the day’s worries and tensions.
Another popular time to work out is early morning, before the workday begins. Advocates of the early start say it makes them more alert and energetic on the job.
Among the factors you should consider in developing your workout schedule are personal preference, job and family responsibilities, and availability of exercise facilities. It’s important to schedule your workouts for a time when there is little chance that you will have to cancel or interrupt them because of other demands on your time.
No More Excuses, No More Procrastination
During the next few months, you will probably come up with plenty of excuses as to why you should skip a cardio workout or two. But keep in mind that the human mind can be trained to make a habit of something if that thing is performed for twenty-seven days in a row. Let’s commit to making fitness a lifestyle, by not missing any scheduled workouts for the next twenty-eight or more days.
Remember, the key to staying motivated and continuing to achieve the results you want is to keep your exercise program fun and exciting by constantly trying new exercises.
5. Final Stretching
The fifth and final component of the MYM Cardio Workout Formula is stretching. The same stretching exercises performed at the start of the workout can and should be performed again.
In fact, it is during the stretching period after a workout that the majority of gains in flexibility occur. Stretching also aids in flushing the muscles of undesirable biochemical by-products of exercise, such as lactic acid, that can cause soreness.
Exercising Smart To Prevent Injuries
Despite the best-intentioned exercise plans, injury may occur. Undoubtedly, the best way to deal with injury is prevention. This is best accomplished with sensible training and a knowledgeable approach to your exercise routine. The following guidelines should help make your training both safe and enjoyable.
Golden rules of exercising
- Avoid strenuous exercise if you are feeling ill or have been sick for an extended period of time.
- Exercise with the proper frequency: three to five days per week of aerobic exercise, and three days per week (every other day) of strength-training exercise.
- Exercise at the intensity level that’s best for your individual fitness needs.
If you’re just beginning an exercise program, exercise at a heart rate that’s near the lower end of your target heart-rate range, and then gradually increase the intensity of your workouts.
- Always use proper form when exercising (never sacrifice form in order to lift heavier weights during a strength-training workout).
- Wear shoes that are designed for the exercise you’re doing (running shoes for running, cross trainers for cross training, good walking shoes for dedicated walkers), and wear comfortable clothing (the kind that allows your body to sweat).
If exercising outdoors, take weather conditions into account before you leave for your workout.
- Avoid doing any one exercise too often.
Performing one exercise over and over can tire the muscles involved in that exercise and cause unnecessary muscle strain. Adding variety to your workout allows you to work your muscles differently and continue building your motivation.
- Drink plenty of water.
Drinking water before, during, and after a workout is essential. From an exercise standpoint, replenishing your body’s water supply greatly enhances your strength, speed, and endurance.
How much water should I drink when I exercise?
Experts recommend drinking up to twenty ounces of water during the hour or two before you begin exercising, and taking another three to six ounces every ten minutes during your exercise period.
I advise my clients to keep with them a sipper bottle filled with water while they’re exercising, and to sip on it throughout the entire workout.
If you become injured, consult your personal physician immediately. If you choose not to see your physician, the “r.i.c.e.” treatment is often best: rest, ice, compression, elevation.
- Rest the injured body part (for no less than forty-eight hours) to prevent further injury and to initiate the healing process.
- Ice the injured area immediately for fifteen to twenty minutes, and repeat three to four times a day, to help reduce internal bleeding and keep the swelling down.
- Compression provided with semi-firm bandaging will keep the swelling down and provide comfort.
- Elevate the injured area, to allow blood to drain back to the heart and prevent it from pooling in the injured area.
Take Action On Your Cardio Workout Formula
Now, you know enough to take action and start your cardio workout. Later, we’ll go over a 7 Day Weight Loss Plan which will incorporate almost everything from this website. It’ll detail a cardio workout assignment as well as strength training, dieting and other important areas. So you can really burn those calories and reduce body fat.
Next, we will go over how to breathe properly, so your body is getting oxygen efficiently. >> Next Page (Breathing Exercise)