“What’s the best cardio workout I can do to see results?” This is a common question that I hear from clients and fellow fit-thusiasts, but the answer may not be what you expect. Between HIIT training, running, spin classes, and a variety of cardio classes, there are endless options available to help you get your sweat on. Most people assume that there is one option that’s better than the others because it makes you sweat more, burns more calories, is more challenging, etc. While some of those statements might have some truth to them when comparing modes of exercise, the reality is that the best cardio workout you can do to see results is the one that you’ll actually do. How is a girl to choose? Never fear, in this article I’ll give you 3 questions to ask yourself to help you narrow down your options to get a great cardio workout that you’ll actually enjoy (yeah, I said it).
Here are 3 questions to ask yourself to figure out which workout style might be best for you:
1. What’s your ideal workout environment? For example: do you prefer to be inside or outside for cardio training? If you enjoy getting out in nature, you might like riding your bike outside, searching for new trails in the area, joining a local outdoor boot camp, or hitting the pavement for a walk or jog before or after work.
2. Do you prefer to sweat it out solo or with other people? If you prefer to do cardio alone, you can easily do so inside using your favorite cardio equipment or workout DVD. Group-oriented exercisers should gravitate toward a class environment for their cardio adventures (Dolores’ cardio classes, anyone??).
3. Is it a type of workout that you can see yourself doing for the long-term? I’m not saying that you have to commit to any one style of exercise for the rest of your life, but the goal is to find a cardio workout that makes you feel good and allows you to continue doing it for the long-term. If you dread doing a certain type of cardio, that’s definitely not the right one for you- no matter how good it may be for you! Another note: if it’s a high-intensity type of exercise (an intense spin class, running sprints, HIIT training), you should not do this more than 2-3 times/week. Keep that in mind when choosing cardio types so that you avoid over-training and potential injury.
It’s your turn: Apply what you’ve learned!
1. Ask yourself the 3 questions listed above. Start with the first 2 questions to narrow it down a little bit.
2. Next, list out types of cardio workouts that fit your answers for numbers 1 and 2. If you’re unsure about what your options are, try Googling (indoor group cardio classes, outdoor cardio, etc.) or ask your trainer for recommendations based on your preferences.
3. Now that you have your list of potential cardio options, ask yourself question #3 with each type of cardio workout in mind. If any are not sustainable, they should be marked off of the list or maybe reserved for a “once in a while” activity to sprinkle in when you need a change.
Nothing is forever! Your preferences might change over time so don’t be afraid to try new things. I recommend giving a style of cardio workout 2-3 tries before calling it quits. When you find something that works for you, it’s great to stick to it to get the results that you want, but it’s also healthy to step outside of your comfort zone occasionally to try a new challenge that you just might love!
If you try a new type of cardio training, let us know! We’d love to hear how you stay active outside of your strength training.