Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Treadmill & Cardio in general

Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE working out.  I've now been working out for 20 years!

I have always hated cardio workouts & in the past I mostly just skipped it & avoided it.

In my younger days I could eat whatever I wanted & not have to worry about weight, or more specifically, body fat levels.  So skipping cardio wasn't a big deal to me because I wasn't worrying about fat.

But as I get older I do have to fight to keep the body fat off.  The older I get the harder it gets to maintain my weight & since having my son it's also made it harder to keep my abs flat & flab free.

I do have a heart murmur & I've always been very aware that my heart isn't as strong as other people's (even people who don't workout at all!) because of it.  Later on in pregnancy my heart was having a really hard time keeping up & by the time I went into labor I was going into heart failure.  It was clear to me that I needed to start doing cardio.  The heart is a muscle & by working it I can strengthen it.  Sure, not necessarily as strong as other people's, but still stronger than it has been.

Last August I was given a treadmill.  I have always wanted one, hoping that I would really enjoy that form of cardio.  I started working on running one mile.  I must admit I was REALLY hating it.  But I kept with it.  I was improving but still hating it.

However, I have to admit that I always found myself holding back, not pushing myself as hard as I probably could.  I was worried if I pushed myself TOO HARD then I wouldn't be able to continue RUNNING the whole mile & I would end up walking or quitting.  This bothered me, yet I couldn't think of a way to get around it.

I've always heard of circuit training or interval training (to my knowledge they are one & the same, but I might be mistaken about that) but I didn't really know exactly how to do it.  I had tried to look into it a few times, but it always seemed to complicated for me.  Then a few weeks ago I got an email from Dr. Mercola that was about this type of exercise.  It mentioned that you can burn more calories in less time & that it's better for strengthening your heart because you push yourself as hard as possible (no holding back) for the short interval intense bursts.  And it has a very simple structure to it, so I decided to give it a try & I am truly LOVING it.

I should add that this can be applied to ANY form of cardio.  You just need a timer or stopwatch or something like that.  I've been using it with the treadmill, but I do plan to use it with my spinner bike at some point.  The treadmill has a timer on it, but the bike doesn't.  Although I'm pretty sure my phone has a timer in it that I can use.

So here's the basic plan: you warm up for 3 minutes.  Then you go as fast as possible for 30 seconds.  Then you recover for 90 seconds.  Then you go as fast as possible for 30 seconds.  And 'round & 'round you go.  The goal is to build up to 8 of the 30 second bursts.

It's a very simple plan, yet it has structure to it, which I like.  I, personally, have split up the 90 second recovery.  So it goes like this: 30 seconds walking slow, 30 seconds walking fast, 30 seconds running slowly, then back to the 30 second as fast as I can go.  So it's basically just 4 phases of 30 seconds going around & around for me.  And I get so into each 30 second phase that I don't even realize how much time is passing by.  Before, when I was just running, I would stare at the timer & be wishing I was done at just a couple of minutes into the run.  I now find myself so into the workout that before I even notice it's already 10 or 15 minutes have gone by.

And by pushing myself as hard as possible, even for only 30 seconds, I do feel like my heart is getting stronger, my endurance level is increasing, which is what I want.  The idea is to push yourself to the point that you couldn't possibly continue past the 30 second mark & that's what I do & I feel like I'm seeing major results from this.

I am very pleased with working out like this & plan to continue (along with my strength training & pilates, etc).  It burns more calories & strengthens the heart better than traditional type cardio workouts.

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