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10 Habits That Can Sabotage Your Cardio

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10 Habits That Can Sabotage Your Cardio
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Are you wondering what habits are sabotaging your cardio workouts? Whether taking the latest HIIT class or using - ​​home fitness equipment, you know cardio benefits the body.

In case you’ve forgotten, cardio is short for cardiovascular exercise. It typically involves a moderate level of intense movement that increases your breathing and heart rate.

However, just because you are running, cycling, swimming, walking, or jumping rope does not mean you are guaranteed to lose weight.

If you're frustrated with your lack of progress in the gym, it might be that your routine is poorly planned, or you're using the wrong equipment. Or maybe a poor diet is holding you back.

People who want to get the most out of their workouts often find cardio to be the most difficult part of their routine.

If you're trying to increase your fitness level, avoid these ten worst cardio habits.

1. Not Having a Plan

Congrats on taking the first step to the gym or pressing play on your YouTube fitness video! But, if you fail to incorporate a consistent plan, it can lead to a lack of motivation and results.

No game plan means you risk spending time wandering from machine to machine or skipping days at a time.

Here are 5 Reasons You Need a Cardio Fitness Plan:

  • To meet and accomplish goals.
  • To avoid under or over-training.
  • Create structure.
  • Avoid burnout.
  • Help prevent injury.

How often should you work out? There is no specific time limit on the amount of cardio exercise you should incorporate daily, although it depends on your health and stamina. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people aged 18 or older get:

  • A minimum of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity weekly OR
  • 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity weekly OR
  • An equivalent combination of both

In addition, the World Health Organization suggests at least 10 minutes of cardio exercise at a time to get the most benefits from it.

As always. If you haven’t exercised in a while or recovering from an injury or illness, it’s best to consult a health professional before safely starting a new cardio plan.

2. Relying Solely on Machines

Spending a sweaty hour on the treadmill is a great way to make you feel accomplished in the gym. After completing the machine workout, you may be proud to see 400, 500, or even 600 calories burned. While it is worth using gym machines and equipment at home, it doesn’t mean they’re essential to accomplishing your fitness goal.

In most gyms, there is an exercise machine for every muscle group. However, you can not rely solely on cardio machines because there are more efficient ways to work your muscles. These machines typically only work for one or two muscle groups at a time.

Cardio machines are an appropriate complement to your fitness program. It is best to incorporate variation into your workout regimen and integrate other forms of exercise for optimal intensity. Working up a sweat from running outside, taking a hike, dancing, and other bodyweight moves will benefit you for more than an hour on the Stairmaster.

While using cardio machines does help, mixing up your gym routine can help increase your workout level and boost your motivation. Plus, recent studies have shown that cardio machines are not always accurate and overestimate your calorie burn.

3. Multitasking/Not Being Focused

Ever stop in the middle of a workout to take a phone call, check an email, or post on social media? Try doing multiple things at once, and you will most likely neglect an area. It is time to focus on one task at a time because you are more likely to be satisfied with the results.

Even reading or nonstop texting while on a bike does not allow you to work with any real intensity. If you can read while working out, perhaps your routine is not so effective. After all, the goal is to improve your mental and physical health.

If you are having trouble focusing during your cardio journey, there are a few ways to focus on the exercise before you start adding distractions. Here are a few ways:

  • Turn off Distractions - Switch your phone on silent and turn off all notifications.
  • Block out a specific time - Commit to a workout class or block a time frame each day to work out and do nothing else.
  • Focus on the Goal - Try short-term goals first and work up to the ultimate goal to make it more obtainable. This technique could mean starting with a certain amount of time or level and increasing it each week.

4. No Variety in Your Routine

Some fitness experts say routine is the enemy of the body. Doing the same form of cardio daily at the same time can lead to plateaus and lackluster results. In addition, you may experience a challenge embracing the cardio you need to do most. While some people prefer a consistent routine out of habit or comfort, there are benefits to trying different activities to stay enthusiastic and challenged.

Rotating exercises or activities every so often can also help reduce the risk of injury. Try finding a variety of things to do to challenge yourself. Variety refers to the number or the types of exercises, whether cardio exercises or strength training. Studies show people exercise more frequently when their workout routine includes variety.

There are several ways you can switch up your current workout routine and create variation. For example, if you enjoy walking, try incorporating jogging intervals or adding a hill to your route. You can also add strength training, core exercises, balance training, flexibility, and stretches into your exercise plan. Although it is not necessary to include all these elements in every session, it can help you promote fitness for life.

5. Eating the Wrong Foods After Cardio

Cheetos after the treadmill? Probably not a good idea! While there are plenty of cardio benefits, from better heart health to weight loss and a boost to the brain, we must fuel our bodies with the right food to get the best results. There are foods to avoid after a workout.

As long as you keep your calorie intake lower than the number of calories you burn, you will be in good shape (no pun intended!). That, however, is difficult to do on a diet high in sugar and fat, no matter how much you engage in physical activity.

Plus, most people overestimate how many calories they burn when working out and do not realize how a sugar-fat diet contradicts their fitness efforts. There is no point in grabbing that bag of chips, sugary drink, or cheesesteak, as it does more harm than good after a workout.

Instead, try a smoothie made with whey protein powder, coconut water, fruit, and vegetables to help your muscles recover. Or, eat a meal that includes fresh fruit, lean protein, hard-boiled eggs, small bags of nuts, or healthy options post-workout.

6. Choosing the Wrong Type of Cardio

Are you doing the right cardio? Even if we all perform at the same level of intensity, the outcome may differ. Since genetics and physiological design determine our body type, each person will respond differently to cardio routines. If you choose the wrong cardio, you may take longer to reach your goals or even lose your hard-earned gains.

What is Your Goal?

For example, if you are bottom-heavy and do a lot of spinning, you will burn calories, but you may gain weight in your legs and bottom half. In this case, consider bodyweight cardio that does not focus on the legs.

For more muscle and less fat, focus on lifting weights. If you are overweight, focus on cardio that won’t cause injuries. Perhaps that means putting your focus on steady-state workouts over high-intensity.

Want to maintain bone density as you age? Prioritize lifting things frequently and try HIIT training that makes you quicker on your feet. In addition to movements that improve your posture and strengthen your core.

For the best results, consult a health or fitness professional to determine a realistic fitness level. With this information, you can decide which type of cardio works best for you.

Instead, try a smoothie made with whey protein powder, coconut water, fruit, and vegetables to help your muscles recover. Or, eat a meal that includes fresh fruit, lean protein, hard-boiled eggs, small bags of nuts, or healthy options post-workout.

7. Cardio in the Morning

Not everyone is a morning person. For some people, a morning exercise session is not feasible, especially if you are sluggish or rushing out the door for work or school. There is a popular opinion in society that 20 minutes of cardio in the morning will speed up your metabolism for the day.

While It is a great way to start your day and provides motivation, the ideal time of day varies from one person to the next. If you did that same 20 minutes of cardio later in the day, you still have 20 minutes of cardio under your belt, and your calorie is about the same.

Switching the time of day you work out during the week is not a bad thing. So, don't drive yourself crazy trying to squeeze cardio solely into your morning routine.

8. Too Much Low Intensity

There's always a place for low-intensity cardio, especially if you are a beginner, severely overweight, experiencing health issues, or other reasons to avoid high-intensity sweat sessions.

Low-intensity cardio is any low-impact aerobic exercise that raises your heart rate without a dramatic increase, typically for 30 minutes or more. It can include walking, yoga, riding a bike, or swimming at the pace at a low impact, steady pace.

A low-intensity or steady-pace workout is beneficial for toning and strengthening the cardiovascular system but will not help to significantly shred the pounds, no matter how much or how often you engage in it.

Keep in mind that low intensity doesn't ​always​ mean low-impact cardio. No general limit or recommendation is regarding the amount of cardio exercise you should perform daily or weekly since it would depend on the individual.

However, when you push yourself with a moderate to high-impact workout level, you may see results quicker and even can skip a day or two each week to rest and avoid burnout and injury.

9. Not Enough HIIT Cardio

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) alternates short periods of intense exercise with short recovery periods until the point of exhaustion. It can be challenging, but it is the best type of cardio to help you shed pounds and build endurance fast. Doing 15-20 minutes of HIIT will burn the same amount of calories or more as 60 minutes on the treadmill. Moving at an intense level, then slowing down, followed by more high-intense movements, will work up a sweat fast!

This strategy can help save you time, so you do not have to work out as long as you would if you were doing cardio fitness at a steady pace. If you find machines like the treadmill boring or need to build up your stamina, HIIT Cardio may be a great addition to your fitness routine.

10. Too Much Cardio

The saying “too much of a good thing” also applies to cardio. Exercise is supposed to be good for you, but too much can cause effects on your body and brain. If anything, most of us would benefit from exercising more, but some individuals have a cardio addiction.

Over-exerting yourself could reverse the hard work you put in, and worst-case scenario, damage your heart and cause injuries and addictions. Exercise addiction refers to an unhealthy obsession with physical fitness. Research suggests that those with a history of eating disorders and addictions to drug-like substances may be at risk of exercising too much.

Here are six signs someone is addicted to working out:

  • Feeling uncontrollable desires to exercise.
  • Losing relationships due to the time spent doing cardio.
  • Constantly experiencing injuries or physical harm.
  • Being overly competitive and self-critical.
  • Feeling guilty if skipping a workout routine.
  • Engaging in exercise in secret.

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