Authors: huffingtonpost fitness
By Joe Vennare
Love it or hate it, cardio workouts are essential to overall health and critical for athletic performance. Fortunately, getting a killer cardio workout doesn’t have to mean suffering through mile after mile on the track or trail. Check out these scientifically-backed tips to hack your workout and start seeing results -- fast.
Up And Running -- Your Action Plan
A typical cardio workout elevates the heart rate, helps improve lung efficiency, and burns a whole lot of calories and fat. And the good news is there are ways to get even more out of that workout. In addition to the non-negotiables (read: proper workout nutrition and hydration, along with a solid warm-up and cool down), here are 17 ways to get to work -- and see better results than ever.
With all these cardio workouts to choose from, it might be possible to overdo it. Don't get carried away. Instead, take 24-48 hours off before training the same muscle groups. Make time to foam roll key areas like the hamstrings, quads, calves, groin and back. The payoff: better recovery, increased muscle growth and being better prepared for that next workout.
How do you push the limits of your cardio workouts? Tell us in the comments.
Ride The Beat
Music more your speed? Forgo the fancy fitness gadgets and crank up the tunes. Listening to music during exercise has been shown to improve performance, increase motivation and put distractions (like negative thoughts and fatique) on pause.
Building a workout routine around team sports, group activities or fitness classes can boost performance during aerobic exercise. Can't find a group workout that meets your needs? Train with a partner to make the entire gym experience more enjoyable, with an extra boost of accountability.
Fill ‘Er Up
Need an excuse to grab another cup o’ Joe? A pre-workout dose of caffeine can provide the pick me up needed to get moving, and improve endurance along the way. Just be careful not to overdo it: No one wants the shakes when it’s time to lift some weights.
Play (The Right) Mind Games
Mental fatigue can be the downfall of a workout. Studies have shown that if the brain is tired, performance tends to suffer. Re-energize the mind and body with a new running route, fitness class, or workout routine. Or, create a mantra that can be recited for a boost of motivation when exercise seems like a chore or a workout is dragging along.
Timing Is Everything
Research suggests that working out first thing in the morning is best for creating and sticking to a habit of exercise. However, not everyone is a morning person. That's alright. The good news is that the body will adapt to training at any point in the day, so long as it is done on a consistent basis. Turns out that, when it comes to killing a cardio workout, anytime is better than never.