If you're looking to lose weight and burn fat and calories, cardio workouts are one of the most effective ways to accomplish this goal. As with any exercise or weight loss regimen, though, it's common to hit a plateau where the workout you've been successfully following for months suddenly seems to have little or no effect.
To blast through these plateaus, try stepping your cardio workout up a notch or two to increase its calorie burning efficiency. Two ways to easily increase the efficiency of your workout are interval training and circuit training.
Interval training is a powerful way to intensify your cardio workouts. Even better, it's simple to implement. You won't need any additional equipment--you won't even have to change the basics of your workout routine. All it takes to bump your workout up a notch with interval training is to work at a higher intensity for short periods throughout your workout. For example, if you typically work out on a treadmill, an interval training modification would look something like this:
- Warm up at a slow speed for up to five minutes
- Work at your usual pace for 3-5 minutes
- Work at an increased speed and/or incline for 1-2 minutes
- Return to the usual pace for 3-5 minutes
Continue in this fashion, ending with another slower, 5-minute cool down, and you've completed your first interval training session. Just these simple changes will up the calorie burning power of your workout and help you see results quickly, even if you've been stuck on a weight loss plateau. Over the long term, interval training will increase stamina and cardiovascular health, as well, for even more significant benefits.
Circuit training is another powerful approach to cardio that can jump-start a routine that's become old, tired and lifeless. In circuit training, you perform a variety of exercises, one after the other, usually for a short period of time each. Once the full set is finished, you usually start over again at the beginning until a certain number of circuits has been completed. Personal fitness trainers often use this approach, and it has also proved popular at fitness outlets such as Curves.
The advantages of circuit training include:
- No need for special equipment
- Can be adapted to a small space
- Can be constructed to work as a training session for any sport
- Keeps the workout fresh, with a variety of activities in each session
Circuit training has proven particularly effective for women, helping them lose more weight and keep it off for a longer amount of time. It also significantly increases endurance and cardiovascular health. Modifying your routine to a circuit training approach will help greatly increase calorie burn, and help you get past those frustrating plateaus. For help constructing a circuit training regimen, try a free session with a personal trainer at your fitness club.
Next time you feel your workout isn't giving you the results you want anymore, or when you're simply ready for something new, give interval training or circuit training a try. One of these simple approaches might be just the jump start you need to get your workout back on track.