We all want to look and feel our best. A balanced diet and consistent exercise can improve our overall health, provide more energy throughout the day, and greatly reduce stress. Working out is not easy, though, and it can be difficult to determine the best place to start. Lately, we’ve noticed an increased interest in cardio exercises like cycling. These are wonderful ways to get your heart pumping, boost your mood, and stay active. Keep reading to learn about the perfect exercise routine, including a cardio interval set and a massage gun session.
Why is exercise important?
The benefits of exercise are vast, and they extend far beyond your physical appearance. While most people commit to a workout routine to lose weight, get in shape, or fit into a certain size, there are countless physical and mental benefits to staying active.
The most obvious benefit of exercise is maintaining your weight. When combined with the proper diet, working out can help control weight and prevent obesity. Other physical health benefits of regular exercise include:
- Reduced risk for heart disease
- Manage blood sugar levels
- Strengthen bones and muscles
- Reduce risk of some cancers
- Reduce risk of falling
- Improve lifespan
Working out and staying active can also help you sleep better at night. You can fall asleep faster and get better quality sleep thanks to exercise. Regular activity improves your overall mental health thanks to a release of endorphins during workouts and long-term benefits like better sleep and improved health. Exercise can stimulate your brain and help you maintain the ability to learn new things and think critically.
Top Cardio Exercises
Cardio is considered one of the best ways to burn fat and stay lean. With cardio workouts, you can adjust the intensity to match your ability and increase the intensity over time to achieve impressive results. For an exercise to quality as cardio, it has to increase your heart rate and raise your breathing rate. These workouts challenge your cardiovascular system, making it work harder to meet the demand. There are dozens of cardio exercises that help you lose weight and stay lean, including:
- Cycling and indoor stationary bikes
- Running at a moderate pace
- Stair climber
- Jumping rope
Exercises You Can Do at Home
There are plenty of cardio exercises that require little to no equipment and can be done right at home. An interest in cycling has spiked in recent years, with people investing in stationary bikes for their home. You can also invest in a treadmill or elliptical to complete a wide range of cardio exercises at your house.
If you are looking for options that require minimal equipment, jumping rope, dancing, and running are popular choices. You can watch dance workout videos on your TV or tablet, run in your neighborhood, or jump rope in your driveway. These workouts have all been shown to increase your heart and breathing rate to burn fat.
What is interval training?
Interval training takes cardio workouts to the next level. If you want to burn fat fast, make the most of your time with an interval workout. These workouts are often referred to as aerobic interval training or high-intensity interval training (HIIT). They used to be performed by top athletes, but the clear benefits of HIIT exercises have made them popular among mainstream exercisers as well.
Interval training involves alternating shorter bursts of activity at a high intensity and longer intervals of activity at a lower intensity. Typically high-intensity activities are sustained for 30 seconds and low intensity activities are sustained for one to two minutes. Bursts of activity are alternated for the duration of the workout.
With interval training, you can increase the number of calories burned because the intensity level is increased. You can also get the same effects of a standard, 40-minute cardiovascular workout in just 15 to 20 minutes. Your cardiovascular fitness will improve, and you can change up your workout regularly to avoid boredom.
How do you warm up for exercise?
Warming up to crucial to staying safe while working out. Cardio exercises and interval training put a lot of stress and demand on your body. A proper warm up can lower your risk of sustaining an injury during your workout and improve your overall performance. Thankfully, warm ups can be brief, so they do not add a lot of time to your workout routine.
For cardio and HIIT exercises, your warm up can be a more gradual version of the activity. For example, if you are running, start with a brisk walk for 10 minutes. If you are cycling or hitting the elliptical, start with stretches that focus on your back and legs.
How hard should you push during a workout?
We all want to get better, and most athletes strive for greatness. While pushing yourself is part of improving athletic performance, there is a way to safely test your limits. Going too hard or doing too much during a workout can leave you in considerable pain. It can also make it more difficult to work out the next time or result in more permanent injury.
For cardio and HIIT exercises, it is important to keep an eye on your heart rate. A doctor or personal fitness trainer can help provide guidelines for your optimal heart rate during workouts. Ultimately, it is important to listen to your body. Pushing past your limits results in unnecessary pain and hinders your ability to work out in the future.
How do you warm down from exercise?
The cool down is just as important as a warm up when it comes to working out. Like a warm up, you can finish your session by lowering the intensity of your workout. Take a brisk walk for 10 minutes, swim a few leisurely laps, or move through a low-intensity stretching routine. Introducing a massage gun into your cool down can also help your recovery process.
What is a massage gun?
Athletes are likely familiar with massage guns, but they have recently made their way to the general public. A massage gun uses percussive therapy to apply pressure to the muscles and tissue in your body. With a massage gun, you can enjoy the benefits of a professional massage after every workout. These tools are lightweight and portable, so they can go with you from the gym to home.
Benefits of Massage Guns for Workouts
Investing in a massage gun provides the same benefits as a professional massage right at home. You can target specific muscle groups or problem areas, which is difficult to achieve with a foam roller or similar tool. Massage guns can be used before, during, and after a workout to:
- Reduce inflammation
- Release tension
- Break up knots
- Increase blood flow
- Relax tight muscles
- Break up scar tissue
- Reduce muscle soreness
- Flush lymph fluid
Before a workout, you can incorporate a massage gun into your routine to warm up the muscles you will target. During a workout, you can use a massage gun to release tension in sore muscles and extend your exercise routine. After a workout, a massage gun can promote faster recovery by soothing sore muscles, releasing tension, and improving circulation.
The Perfect Cardio Interval Routine
Now that you know all about interval training, cardio workouts, and massage guns, it is time to put it altogether. The workout routine below offers a complete HIIT workout for cycling, including a warm up and cool down. You can adjust the intensity of the workout to meet your unique needs and your ability.
The 10-minute warm up involves a set of stretches designed to engage your core and wake up your muscles. Feel free to use your massage gun as well to target your legs, back, and abdomen.
- Stand tall and put your arms above your head, squeezing your knees together. Hold this pose for 30 seconds before releasing.
- Enter the Founder position and hold for 10 seconds.
- Complete 10 squats
- Plank and engage your deep core muscles for 30 seconds.
- Enter the bridge position and hold for 30 seconds.
- Continue this circuit for 10 minutes.
Once you are warmed up, it’s time to hop on your stationary bike. The HIIT cycling exercise below is simple and does not take a lot of time, but it provides an incredible fat-burning workout. Over time, you can increase the intensity of your short activity bursts.
- Pedal as hard as you can for 30 seconds
- Pedal easy for 60 seconds
- Repeat the interval four times.
- Pedal easy for four minutes.
- Repeat the sequence above two more times
As soon as you complete the HIIT sequence above three times in total, move on to the cool down. Stretch for about five to 10 minutes, focusing on the muscles that are sore or strained from your workout. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water.
In addition to stretching and drinking water, incorporate a massage gun into your recovery. For cyclists, you can target your hamstrings, hip flexors, quads, shins, lower back, calves, glutes, and feet. Listen to your body after your workout and use your massage gun on any areas or muscle groups that will be sore the next morning.