When you are thinking of cardio routines, you might think that it is to do with any continuous form of exercise to build endurance and stamina. Many of us restrict this to just the usual jog in a nearby park or on a treadmill at your nearest fitness centre. And many think that this is the only way you can build your stamina. Often, many people give up trying to jog after a while because it is such a monotonous routine. The reality is that cardio workout routines can be done in various different ways to add excitement and variability to the “traditional” cardio workouts.
Most athletes have a cardio component to their training. Traditional cardio training focuses on consistent daily jogs each lasting at least 30 minutes to build stamina. Eventually people will get tired of this as I’ve mentioned earlier. A simple way to make your training more interesting is to go for short bursts of speed say 15-30 secs and then followed by slow jogs or vice versa. Try imagining that you are running around a track or circuit. Alternate between endurance-type jogs and sprinting adds variability to your cardio training routines. In fact by doing this, steady state endurance training only trains the heart at one specific heart rate range and doesn’t train it to respond to various every day stressors.
There are many forms of exercise which focuses on variable intensity cardio workout routines. Team sports like basketball, football, volleyball, soccer all involve some form of “start and stop” exercise routines which most certainly need a fit athlete that requires a high amount of endurance in this type of sports. If you are the kind who enjoys playing team sports, it most certainly requires a different kind of training and obviously a traditional cardio workout will not fully benefit you. Try running at a consistent pace for 1 minute versus short bursts of speed alternating with a short consistent running pace and you will notice the latter is more tiring.
If team sports is not your thing, other variable intensity cardio workouts include mountain biking or bicycling. Riding a bike up a hill and down a hill going through different terrains does require a variable intensity routine. And the beauty about doing this is that it is not monotonous, you get to enjoy the surroundings and the different landscapes. You don’t necessary need to focus solely on your training. Try imagining that you are like Lance Armstrong. If you were to be an athlete like him, what kind of training would he require and the different parts of the world he visits for his competition!
In terms of health benefits, variable endurance training routines reduces wear and tear of your joints, improves adaptability to different stressful situations on your heart while exercising, improves immune functions and increases antioxidant protection.
To summarize, cardio training can be exciting if you choose to. Use your creativity to boost your endurance in different ways. Restricting it to the traditional 30 minute jog 5 times a week at a constant pace makes things boring and limited. Try the variable intensity routines and you will begin to adapt more to different sorts of stressors during exercise as well as in competitive sports.
Bryan Wong YH
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