Cardio is always a part of my overall training plan, but it is something that has been strategic and used with a purpose. I have never been part of the “more is better” thinking, doing hours upon hours of cardio each week just to “lose weight”. Rather, I want to use cardio to burn fat, but how much and what kind is determined by the larger picture of nutrition, training, and also my goals at the time.
Often, hiit (High Intensity Interval Training) cardio is included in my cardio plans. These are short, but intense sessions that are very taxing with great after benefits in terms of fat burn. However, I use these wisely as I do not want them to interfere with my gym workouts. There is a place for both HIIT and for more lower intensity cardio routines in an overall cardio training plan. I have used various methods for my hiit training – treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, tracks, stairs, and some bodyweight tabata-style stuff as well.
Since the fall, I began using a jump rope routine I had searched online to start some hiit training. I had used it twice a week, about 17-23 minutes each time. As I became more adept at using the jump rope and doing various moves, I would change up the routine to make it more challenging and still continue to push myself.
Over the past month, I have taken on two new challenges hill sprints and prowler sled pushes. Both of these have been demanding and as much as I hate thinking about doing them, I absolutely love it when they are done. I love the challenge and pushing myself each and every time. The battle is as much mental as it is physical and the workout is unreal. There is a great hill in a park near my house, which serves as a popular sledding hill in winter. For these I charge up the hill as fast as I can, and then walk/jog/bounce my way back down, careful not to fall on my face. Moving down the hill is my resting period and as soon as I hit the bottom, I race back up for the next round. I have only used the prowler sled once so far, but for this one, it was a similar routine. Push the sled down a length of pavement and back, and that was one round. Rest while a partner pushed the sled and once the sled came back, it was go time again for the next round.
In both workouts, I was not sure what to expect before I started, but I knew what I had hoped to accomplish in the end. I wanted to be pushed physically in terms of conditioning, heart rate, and to be breathing hard/gasping by the end. I knew the session would be over when I could not do another round with any such intensity to the point where my running was now walking and even that was slow. In the end, I hit those goals and with each following workout the goal is to push out more rounds that last time.
If you want something you have never had, you must do something you have never done. I am continuing to find new ways to push myself and improve in order to become better than ever before. ~ Rise and Conquer!