6 Ways to Make the Most out of your Cardio Workouts

Have you ever wondered what the most impressive muscle in your body is?

If we were to go by absolute strength, your gluteus maximus (butt muscle) takes the cake – sometimes too much cake. But what about strength relative to size? Then your jaw muscles win.

What about endurance? Your heart wins by a mile; it will beat over 3 billion times in your life. Each of those beats sends new, nutrient-rich blood around your body, as well as taking old blood away back to your heart.

With the important role the heart plays in our lives, it’s shocking that we don’t pay it more attention. Heart disease is the single leading cause of death in America, and most causes can be attributed to poor diet and insufficient exercise. Not giving our hearts sufficient exercise is particularly easy nowadays, since our lifestyles are more sedentary than those of our parents and grandparents.

The great news is that having good cardiovascular health does not take hours of training or hard manual labor. In fact, you can make considerable gains by training your heart 2-4 times a week for a half-hour or less. Here are six tips to make the most of your cardio workouts.


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Use your heart rate as a tool

Your resting heart rate is on its own a decent measure of fitness; the fitter your heart is, the less times it has to beat per minute to get your blood where it’s needed.

Your heart rate can also be used for planning your training. Cardio workouts often give percentages of your maximum heart rate as a goal intensity for a workout. Your maximum heart rate can be approximated as 220 minus your age.

Train at different intensities

If I say the word ‘cardio,’ you probably think of training for 30-60 minutes at ‘talking pace’ (around 75% of maximum heart rate); easy enough that you can speak in short bursts, but no more. But you can get better results by training at varying intensities.


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If you are used to ‘talking pace’ training, doing 1-2 high intensity interval sessions a week is a great way to complement your training. For these workouts, simply do 5-10 intervals of 1-2 minutes of high intensity work (90%+ effort), followed by an equal or slightly greater amount of rest.

High intensity intervals have two key advantages: they are done quickly, and they activate the ‘afterburn effect’ – your body will burn tons of calories even at rest for a period of time following your workout.

Time your cardio properly

A good time period is 2-3 hours after having a meal or a large snack. This will allow you to work out with enough energy while avoiding a cramp.

Get your nutrition right

Cardio uses carbs more than other types of exercise. Ensure that your meals before and after cardio are heavy on the carbs. They should also contain electrolytes, since you will lose some through sweat.

Hydration

Hydrating before, during and after your workout is essential not just for performance (more below) but also for staying safe; sweating without replenishing your body’s water supply can lead to severe dehydration or heatstroke.

To reduce your general risk of these, drink at least 3 L of water a day. To ensure that you are getting proper hydration for your workout, drink 500 mL in the two hours before your workout, 500 mL-1 L during your workout, and 500 mL afterwards.

Form!

Form is often emphasized in weights for safety reasons, but it is just as important in cardio. It enables you to use your muscles more efficiently and reduces your risk of a repetitive-motion injury.

What else can I do for my health?

Training your heart is a great way to improve your health. However it is a shock to your body, and you will not feel its benefits if you don’t a) cool down properly, b) give your body the nutrients and recovery they need, and c) stay hydrated.

The last one is particularly important. As water is a major component of blood, ensuring that you are hydrated will keep your blood appropriately thin and easy to pump – enabling your heart to work more efficiently. Being chronically dehydrated as a result of exercising thus forces your heart to pump harder at rest, and can destroy all the gains you would have otherwise made by doing cardio.

The quality of water you consume is just as important as the quantity. In the same way that it is better to fill up an engine with a tank of gas rather than a tank of mud, it is better to satisfy your hydration needs with good quality, rather than poor quality water, the latter of which can come from the tap (neutral, but loaded with chemicals and chlorine) or from even top-name filter companies (acidic, with no minerals).

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Santevia has a range of products which can boost your athletic performance and health by ensuring that your body remains hydrated, mineralized and alkaline. Visit our website today to take advantage of our latest specials.