Anything but run of the ‘mill. Treadmill running may bore you big time but here’s all you need to spice it up so you’re always gaining fitness, annihilating calories and getting stronger.
Your author is Brandan Fokken, a natural bodybuilding champion and Bodybuilding.com team athlete who has mastered the fine art of creating a lifting and fat burning cardio plan that helps you stay huge, yet ripped all year round.
Plan and time your cardio
You plan your lifting workout so don’t let cardio be an afterthought. Start with a manageable one to three sessions a week getting progressively harder each week. Once you’re comfortable with that add another session to the plan. Finding that you are able to handle more is a good sign that you are progressing. With planning comes timing. Now you probably don’t want to run right before leg day, and you might not get the best session in with Jell-O legs after a leg workout. Make a schedule that best fits your routine and then stick to it.
Prepare and recover
We spend all this time and energy to become healthier, so take a short 10 minutes to warm up and stretch before hitting the treadmill hard. Don’t skip this thinking it will save you time, it’s 10 minutes. You’ll waste a lot more time on the injured list if you forego your warm up.
The same applies to the end of your session. You just finished sprints, are out of breath and feeling exhausted you just want to sit down but don’t. Cooling down enhances the recovery process especially if it’s followed up with foam rolling and stretching.
Stick with HIIT Cardio
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is much more effective at increasing metabolism than steady-state is as the former continues to burn calories all day and up to 24 hours after your session. If you are new to this you can ease into things by following the progression of low, moderate, high, and repeat that two to three times (example timing: 4-5 min low, 1-2 min moderate, 30-60 sec high).
As you progress, you can switch up the intervals or eliminate the moderate part and simply go back and forth between low and high (example timing: low 1 min, high 30-60 sec). And as your conditioning improves you can start to increase the high intensity time or decrease the low intensity time (or both if you really want to push yourself.)
Vary your cardio with weights
Ditch the same routine and throw in some exercises inbetween sprints. It can be anything from abs to bodyweight exercises or even a little weight training. This turns that boring cardio session into an empowering new fat burning workout by adding a strength element. You don’t necessarily need to lift heavy, but you do want a weight that is challenging.
Next time try a compound movement such as bench press, lat pulldown, or shoulder press during the low intensity time. One thing to note is the length of the low intensity interval. If your interval is for one minute, you will not want to be lifting the entire time. Shoot for 30 seconds of lifting in a slow and controlled manner maintaining proper form.
Another way to mix things up is by changing the intensity. It’s harder to run up hill right? So set that treadmill at an incline and get after it! Start out with a lower angle (6-10 degrees) until you get comfortable starting/stopping at an incline and then progressively increase the angle.
I would recommend starting at a lower speed than you normally would when doing incline sprints for the first time. Let’s say you do normal sprints at 12mph and you’re going to pop the treadmill up to 8 degrees and give it a go. Drop the speed a good 3-4mph that first sprint, and if that goes well use your best judgment and bump it up 1-2mph.
Spice up your routine with some variety and give this fat burning cardio workout a go. This 8 week schedule should give you enough variety to keep you excited and your body fat screaming for mercy.