Monitor Your Pulse
If you track your heart rate, you’ll be able to have a better idea of how hard you’re working and how close you are to your maximum level of effort. With a heart rate monitor, you can keep track of the intensity level of your workout and assign it a number that will help you figure out just what you’re getting out of your workout and from what exercises. You can then set goals, track your progress and build out your workouts in a way that keeps them at a high-intensity level, where you will get the most results.
Improve Heart Rate Recovery
If you’re in really good shape, you’ll be able to drop your heart rate a lot quicker. Keep an eye on how quickly you can recover when you slow down your interval. If you’re in ideal shape, you’ll be able to slow your heart rate down about 10 beats per minute for the first two minutes. It might taper a bit after that, but that will give you a sense of your overall heart health. The better condition your heart is in, the quicker it can both speed up during intense exercise and slow down immediately after an intense session.
Strengthen Your Heart, It’s A Muscle
Much like your biceps or legs, your heart is a muscle too, which needs to be trained and strengthen to work at its full potential. If you keep throwing the same exercise routine at your heart, it will grow accustomed to it and you will not see very many big gains in your heart health. In order to avoid this problem, you should mix up the exercise routines that your heart experiences, much like you would do with any other muscle group. In addition, you can vary your intensity level within your exercise to keep your heart working hard. High-intensity interval training is one way to do this, and it basically consists of performing at maximum effort for 20 to 60 seconds, then slowing down for 60 to 120 seconds. Repeat that process and your heart will be able to get some practice at speeding up and slowing down. It’s also a great routine for fat burning.
Shut Yourself Up
If you can say more than three or four words in between breaths, you are not working hard enough. If you’re at about 85 percent of your maximum heart rate, you should only be able to squeeze in three or four words in between breaths. By keeping yourself at this level of intensity, you’ll be improving your work capacity. That’s another way of saying that you’ll be improving your sprinting endurance or the length of time that you can stay at maximum intensity. That’s a valuable skill to improve for athletic competition.
Mix in Some Slow Burning Cardio
While high-intensity interval training is a great way to build your heart strength and aerobic capacity, cardio at lower levels of intensity and for longer durations, in the 45 minutes to 1-hour mark, isn’t a bad idea. If you keep your heart rate between 65 and 70 percent of your maximum, you can get blood flow to your muscles while working on their endurance levels. It’s an ideal workout on a light day in between two tougher workouts, and it’s a good way to give you a bit of a break from hard workouts and still get the blood flowing.
Be Prepared To Train
One of the most overlooked areas of training is flexibility. Whether you're working on strength training, sports skills training, speed training or endurance, a lack of flexibility will hinder you in more ways than one. Often times runners who have tight muscles and joints end up running with bad form leading to the hamstrings being overloaded with work and getting pulled, the lower lumbar spine being pulled causing lower back pain and tight quads causing pain in the knees. A lot of these pulls, pains and even serious injury can be prevented with some stretches that won't take that long to perform, but will make your cardio workouts much more productive.
There you have it, six ways to increase the intensity and effectiveness of your cardiovascular workouts. With these six tips, you should be able to see better results, faster. Before you start your next cardio session, take a little time to review your cardio workouts and see which tips you can integrate into your routine.
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