Running is one of the cornerstones of fitness, but are you sure you’re doing it correctly?
It seems like something almost too obvious to point out, but it’s true. Even though everybody runs, there are easy ways to maximize your cardio and make sure your burning the maximum amount of calories and giving your muscles the best chance to develop. Sometimes we brush off the simple things as not needing any explanation. The truth is, it’s important for any bodybuilder or person who’s serious about fitness to understand the basic mechanics of exercise. There are lots of ways you can improve even the most basic of exercises because the way we generally move isn’t always geared to burn the most calories. Here are five easy tips that will help you improve the quality of your cardio workouts.
1. Listening to music can help you run faster.
Processing auditory input distracts our brain from the “burn” we associate with gaining muscle mass. If you want to maximize your endurance, try listening to music on a jog or watching your favorite TV show while you’re on the treadmill. You will be shocked at how much longer and harder you can run for when you’re paying attention to something you’re listening to.
2. Training variety is more important that pushing yourself
One massive blowout cardio session is not going to give you the huge gains of a bodybuilder. Increasing the intensity of your workouts is what helps you gain mass, and in the case of cardio, that means training variety is key. That means running on the treadmill, running uphill at the park, running on a mild hike, and running flat laps around a track. The variety in terrains, textures, and inclines will prevent your leg muscles from “getting used” to your workouts and you will increase muscle mass every time.
3. Cardio is most effective on an empty stomach.
This seems like an obvious one, but you would be surprised. You burn the most fat and gain the most weight when you work out on an empty stomach. So, if you’re looking to make serious gains, make sure to hit the gym before breakfast, not after.
4. You have to stretch before cardio. Every time.
The elasticity of your muscles makes a huge difference in your workout. Your chances of injury are much higher if you don’t stretch. Injuries aside, if you don’t stretch before cardio you are putting yourself at a huge disadvantage because your muscles will not be able to fully extend. Your ability to really push yourself to make gains will be limited, not to mention you’ll be a lot more sore afterwards.
5. Always put cardio after weight training when organizing your workouts.
Cardio burns a ton of calories, so if you do it before weight training, you have essentially eaten up your body’s entire store of calories that were going to help it work out. Always do cardio after weight training, and with a decent interval in between. If you jump straight into intense cardio after weight training you will most likely pass out. Make sure to take time in between the two to fuel yourself for your next workout.