Friday, October 28, 2016

Load Up Your Cardio

Welcome to Friday! Today its Fitness Friday on the blog. Lets talk about doing weighted cardio.

Though I applaud anyone who makes the effort to exercise regularly, most folks don't do what is necessary to maximize their results. I am not just talking weight loss, but overall fitness too. People tend to focus on one aspect of fitness (cardio or flexibility) and neglect the rest, or they do the same workout over and over.

Our bodies like variety and our bodies need incremental increases in intensity to continue getting benefits (law of progression). Whether you are doing cardio, or strength, you need to continuously change things up and up the level of difficulty.

With strength training you can increase weight, add more sets, etc. With cardio you can increase speed, duration or switch to a more intense activity (i.e. walking to running). You can also add weight to your cardio!

Back in the 80s when STEP aerobics exploded onto the fitness scene, it was done holding 1-2 lb hand weights. But after a short while this practice was discontinued, due to joint injuries. I suspect the issue is it quickly went from a fairly basic/athletic style workout to much more dance-y, choreographed workout with more complicated arm movements.

But the idea of weighting your cardio is great if you are looking for a way to make your cardio more intense.  It takes more energy to move more weight. That's why the more you weigh, the more calories you burn when you exercise.

Now, not every cardio activity can safely be done with weights (i.e. Zumba or anything with fast, swinging arm movements), and weighted cardio is not appropriate for everyone, but if you are fairly fit and have no back/shoulder/joint problems, it can be a great way to boost your workouts.

Some MMA style workouts use weighted gloves. I haven't been able to find weighted gloves so I have started adding wrist weights and it definitely makes these workouts more intense, not only in terms of heart rate and for the arms, but for the core too. Its also a great way to bump up the intensity of HIIT intervals. Like do a standing mountain climber holding 5 lb weights, or do a jumping jack with a leg band around your ankles.

For some workouts, I wear both ankle and wrist weights. But you can also get weighted vests. If you are a runner, I would go for a vest over wrist or ankle weights.

Regardless of your age or current level of fitness, you should always be changing things up as soon as something feels easy. Even just tiny incremental changes add up over time and will ensure you are getting the most bang for your buck from your workouts.

Have a healthy, active weekend folks!

Important Note: Not all activities are safe for everyone. Before starting any new activity, speak with a health professional to make sure it is safe and appropriate for you.

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