Personal Trainer, Liverpool Street.

Get the Most From Your Cardio Workout

Get the Most From Your Cardio Workout

Make the most of your cardio workout in the gym by avoiding these common errors.

There’s a tendency among “serious” gym-goers to look down on the use of cardio machines. The banks of bikes and treadmills are where the clueless often gather because they feel like they know how to use the equipment (in fairness, it is quite hard to fall off an stationary bike). But if you know – really know – what you’re doing, you can use cardio kit effectively to help you reach a range of goals. Take the following expert advice to get the most out of your heart rate-raising efforts and show the new guys how it’s supposed to be done.

Don’t set the rower resistance to ten because it’s not effective

The rowing machine is one of the best bits of cardio gym kit because it works your upper and lower body as well as your cardiovascular system. But there’s not much point starting out at damper level ten, especially if you’re not an experienced rower and haven’t nailed the form. You’ll get a better workout using a setting between three and five. It may feel too easy at first, but it’s better to perfect your form and get the wheel spinning faster, which will provide more resistance.



Don’t run on a flat treadmill because it’s too easy

When running on a flat treadmill you only ever have to move upwards, not upwards and forwards like you do when running outside. So set the incline to 1-3% to replicate running on the road as realistically as possible.


Don’t forget to adjust the bike seat because it will put stress on your joints

Although it can be tempting to just hop on and start pedalling, you should adjust the seat height so that it reaches hip level when you’re standing next to it. Too high and you’ll constantly overreach to complete each stroke, making your action inefficient. Too low will put pressure on your knee joints.


Don’t hold the treadmill handrails because if you can do this, you’re not running fast enough

Include your arms in the movement. The more you can swing your arms, the faster your legs move.

Don’t use cardio machines before weights because you’ll be too tired to lift well

If you’re training to lose fat and build muscle, you should do weights first when you’re fresh so you can lift hard and heavy. This will deplete glycogen levels, so when you do some intense cardio afterwards you will tap into fat stores for fuel. But if you do cardio first, you won’t be able to lift as effectively on low energy levels.

Jason Patmore Personal Trainer, London

Don’t do the same workout every session because you’ll get bored and want to give up

Vary your workouts – some high-intensity intervals, short, fast sessions and easier recovery sessions – to keep your muscles guessing and your mind from getting bored so you’re not tempted to quit. You need to push yourself in every session, otherwise your body quickly adjusts to the training stimulus and it becomes too easy.

Don’t skip the warm-up because it can lead to injury

Always do five minutes of light training on your machine of choice before ramping up the intensity, then do it again for the same period of time at the end of the session to gradually reduce your efforts. Taking the time to get your body into and out of exercising mode is vital to prevent injury.

Don’t pay attention to the “calories burned” counter because they’re unreliable

If you’re concerned about your results, get a personal trainer to assess you. Calorie counters can’t give more than a rough guide because everyone burns calories at different rates depending on their weight, muscle mass, exercise experience and fitness.” Fitness bands are more accurate at tracking your calorie expenditure than cardio machines. Some brands average a calories-burned error of just 9.3% (the same as under lab conditions), according to the Journal Of Medicine And Science In Sports And Exercise.

author: Matt Williams


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