There is a simple way to get more out of cardio than you ever had before, and it doesn’t involve really long workouts or tons of pain. This is an approach you will not read about just anywhere, but it is one we have been using for years with great success.
This approach is best performed with jogging, but it can be done on an elliptical, stairmaster, bike or rower as well. A good workout with a sprint at the end typically lasts 20-30 minutes.
Start out your workout with a very slow warm-up speed and move gradually as your body feels ready to an easy cardio speed. If you normally jog with the treadmill at 7.0 mph, an easy cardio speed for you would be 6.0 mph, for example. The goal here is to ease your body into the cardio so that you are not struggling for your breath at any point. As your body and lungs loosen up you will be able to increase your speed in a comfortable fashion. During this type of workout, never increase your speed until your body is asking for it as you loosen up and it doesn’t feel like a struggle.
20 to 25 minutes into the workout, it is time for the ‘sprint at the end.’ At this time you will pick up your pace, again using jogging as an example. However, make sure you pick up your pace by lengthening your stride, not by a faster turnover.
Some days you might do this sprint at the end for 1 minute, and other days you might do the sprint at the end for 3 minutes. Go by feel. The sprint at the end will feel like exertion, especially after a minute or so, but by this point in your workout you should have endorphins kicking in which will help you perform the sprint with minimal discomfort. Only after you stop will you really realize that you are out of breath.
The effect on your body performing the sprint at the end is somewhat like interval training, in that by going at a faster speed you will gain a greater cardiovascular benefit and calorie burn from the workout than you would just by performing a steady effort longer workout.
Perform sprint at the end workouts 2-3 times per week. You can also perform 1-2 interval cardio workouts per week and, if desired, 1-2 steady pace easier cardio workouts per week. By varying the type of cardio training you perform, you will keep your body guessing and keep the week’s total calorie burn high without overtaxing your body. However, it’s a good idea to take time off such as a week or so from vigorous cardio workouts every so often to prevent overtraining.
Over time, as your fitness improves you will find that your starting out pace is faster, and your sprint at the end faster and faster. All of this without a huge time commitment, or lots of strain and exertion. Sure, you will get out of breath after the sprint at the end, but it shouldn’t be nearly as painful as it would be without that longer, slower ‘warmup’ before the sprint.