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How to Improve Your Cardio Fitness

Last Updated: 04.07.22


If you want to stay healthy, cardio fitness is a great way to do it, which is why we prepared a guide for you about it. You can check it out here and see what steps you should take for your health to improve and how to make your cardio fitness give the best results.


Ready, set …VO2 Max!

Maybe you’ve heard of VO2 Max. In case you haven’t, you should know that it’s about the maximum amount of oxygen that a person can make use of when exercising. VO2 Max is often used when it comes to testing the cardio fitness or aerobic endurance of athletes before and after taking part in a training cycle.

In other words, VO2 Max shows at what level of fitness you’re placed. You can use this so you can change your workout by increasing your own level of VO2 Max. As a result, you’ll feel and you will be healthier. But how exactly can one boost their VO2 Max level and, by default, the aerobic capacity one has?

One way of increasing the VO2 Max is to lose weight. Another method to raise your VO2 Max level (and one that also helps you lose weight) is to increase the cardiorespiratory endurance you have by exercising. Pushing yourself in a workout for short periods of time is one of the best ways of boosting that number.

Walk this way

Instead of going for a simple leisure walk, you can walk with a purpose. Let’s say you weigh around 155 lbs, which is an average weight for people. If you make it a brisk walk at a pace of 3.5 miles/hour, in half an hour you will have burned about 150 calories. This will also help in elevating your heart rate. Most people can do this so you could try and join them.

In case you consider that may be a bit too fast for you, you can try boosting the speed at various intervals. You can have a quicker pace for about a minute and then return to the previous speed you had for another minute. Once that minute is up, speed up again for one minute. You just have to do this for about ten times and you’ll slowly see the results.

For some diversity in your exercise, you can also try doing this in a hilly area. The benefit of this is the fact that a brisk hike has the power of elevating the heart rate much more than the aforementioned version so you’ll see the results even faster. Just pick the one option that’s more comfortable for you and then you can work your way up to the other ones.


Run this way

You can play around with the speed you’re using. The word usually used for speed play in fitness is Fartlek, a word of Swedish origin. This means shifting the speed and the intensity you are using at slightly random moments when you are out there running. 

If you challenge yourself a bit more during an exercise, your heart rate will rise but you will not risk breaking the energy bank you have. Aside from the actual name it has, a pretty fun thing about a fartlek is that you can apply variations to it.

This means you can run fast for half a minute, run to a tree or signpost you noticed down the road for one of the intervals, have a minute of simply walking between them, then start running hard for 45 seconds in the next interval, follow it with a bit of jogging, and so on.

You can make your own routine and feel like a kid while doing it, so you’ll also pop the levels of serotonin and dopamine in your body.


Strength training

You can try working out a circuit that will engage different groups of muscles in your body so you’ll keep the heart rate on an elevated level. One classic example is to do push-ups, followed by some bodyweight squats, which you can follow with bench dips and finish with some walking lunges. This is just an example and you can change it any way you want.

By using different exercises that train various groups of muscles at different times, you give the groups you just used the chance to relax while you work on another group and all the while you never stop exercising. Repeat the circuit you created a total of three times and then rest for about a minute – the perfect time to hydrate yourself – and start again.

You can also try working like this in the weight room by doing short sets and using different lighter and heavier weights as a high-intensity strength training that can also boost the heart rate.


Can yoga help?

Yes, of course, we have to mention yoga and yes, yoga can help. Check for a class of Flow, Power or Vinyasa. In these exercises, you will move at the same time as your breath which is a way of keeping the heart rate elevated. In case you can’t find those classes, you can try doing Warrior 2 by yourself for as much as you can as it can have the same benefits.

Pedaling to fitness

Cycling – inside or outside – is also quite a great way of seeing these results. You can try a classic 40 / 20 interval which will keep the ride not only quick, but also much more interesting and it can be used for both a stationary bike, but also for when you are actually cycling on the road.

The 40 / 20 interval means you have to pedal for 40 seconds and have a cadence of 80 plus lots of resistance, the highest level you feel your body can tolerate. These are followed by a series of 20 seconds that have a 100-stroke cadence, but thankfully, no resistance test. You’ll have to do this whole test a total of ten times and you’re good to go.

The added part of resistance represents an extra challenge, it’s true, but it will also push your body into the so-called anaerobic threshold. This means the body will start to produce lactic acid on a faster level than it can actually clear. What does it all mean, you ask? Simply put, it means you are really working hard!


Cardio fitness is the key

While some people may simply love doing cardio and the kick they get from it, probably just as many people aren’t a fan of it. But, when it comes to fitness and being fit, cardiovascular endurance is maybe the key element, by far one of the most important aspects, as it measures how strong the heart is and it can add many years to your life.

Here are some things that you should consider when starting cardio. The first thing to remember is that you have to be consistent. It doesn’t matter that much if you run 3 miles today and tomorrow but then stop for three weeks. Planning is essential for this activity and you should be able to do it at least three times a week.

Secondly, keep in mind that you need to slowly build up this. It’s a pretty bad idea to go from doing nothing or the bare minimum to suddenly running a long distance. You’ll get tired in no-time and feel like you can’t do it, that it’s too hard, etc. The heart is a muscle also and it will need some time to adjust to the new schedule and respond accordingly.

Just start working out slowly, as mentioned at the beginning of this article and then make some advancements. Don’t forget that at this stage especially it’s very important to have days off in the training plan in order to give your body the chance to catch up and get used to the activity.

The third important point is that you can think outside the box when it comes to cardio. There are so many activities you can use: running, swimming, cycling, bodyweight workout, boxing, dancing, yoga, or pilates. All of them can be useful for cardio and to boost your cardio fitness level so pick the exercises that fit you best!

Lastly, you don’t have to do it all at once. You can have a short cardio burst for 5 to 15 minutes when you finish your general exercises and you are already on a good path. By doing this, you not only already start to do cardio, but you also get your body ready for more exercises and cardio later on.

Given the high amount of advantages that came with these exercises, it’s no wonder that they’re recommended by all specialists for everybody that wants to get in shape and be healthier.




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