Cardiovascular training (or cardio, for short) is something that should be a key part of any fitness regime. Cardio training is any workout that raises your heart rate – running, swimming, and skipping are some popular exercises that get the blood pumping. But rather than doing these activities at a low-intensity for an extended period of time, you should look at engaging in High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). This is where you repeatedly do short bursts of high intensity exercise and follow it with recovery, or low intensity, period, before repeating. This technique burns fat faster than other methods as it raises your heart rate higher and keeps it up, meaning that your body is working harder. If you’re needing a bit of inspiration, try the following 4 exercises to start puffing!
A favourite of sporting teams the world over, agility ladders are a fantastic training aid that help you improve coordination, balance and general fitness. These lay flat on the ground to provide a guide for your feet, but the workout is really up to you and your imagination! One of the most popular drills is the ‘In and Out’, where you face the side of the ladder and with both feet, step in and out of each box. If the direction of travel was right, it would go right foot in, left foot in, right foot out, left foot out for each box. Do this as fast as possible for the length of the ladder, then have a recovery period as you walk or jog back to the start of the ladder and repeat it on the other side. Look online to find demonstrations of different patterns and you’ll have the fanciest footwork before you know it. Agility ladders can be found in sporting stores such as HART Sport.
Go into the plank position, making sure that your arms are straight underneath your shoulders and your back is flat. While holding this position is a workout in itself, up the ante by driving one knee up so that it’s in line with your hips (or higher), then switching legs quickly: this is the mountain climber. Try do as many as possible in thirty seconds and feel your legs, abs and shoulders burn! Have a short rest, then repeat.
For this exercise, start by doing a standing jump and landing softly before bending to place your hands in front and extending your legs behind to form the plank position. Do a pushup, then bring your feet back in to stand up and repeat the exercise. Working the entire body, this drill is nothing short of painful, but is worth it for the results! For something a bit easier, you can start off with the ‘Squat Thrust’ that excludes the jump from the exercise.
This one is a killer, simply involving sprints of increasing length. It helps to do this on a basketball or netball court, but you can make your own markers if need be. Beginning at the base line, sprint to the first intersection line, bending down to touch it, and sprint back to the starting point. Repeat this in a pyramid system, making the sprints longer until you’re sprinting the full length of the court, then go back down in length until you’re sprinting the shortest distance again. Then finish, have a rest, and go again!
As well as increasing your fitness, these cardio exercises have a host of other benefits – they can improve your heart health, metabolism and stress-levels, so start incorporating them into your fitness routine today!
What are some of your other favourite ways to work out your cardiovascular system? Tell us about them in the comments below!