Keeping up your cardio fitness is important for almost every sport, activity and even everyday life. It basically boils down to you working your cardiovascular system past the point of everyday activity. So raising your heart rate above that which it would be when sedentary.
Many cardiovascular workouts are done outside, it could be running, cycling, swimming, skiing or any number of other outdoor activities. These are all fantastic forms of exercise as they often combine sports or passions with cardio training; however, what if you want to stay at home? Maybe the weather is terrible, you need to look after the kids, or you simply can't get out? There's still plenty of ways of conquering your cardiovascular fitness from the comfort of your own home.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
HIIT is seeing a huge increase in popularity in recent years. Being able to perform a highly effective workout in a short period of time, with minimal or even no equipment, combined with online popularity, has contributed to its success. It consists of alternating several intervals of high intensity (at least 90% of your maximum heart rate) exercise, with intervals of active rest (very light exercise). The ratio of work and rest intervals can be played with as well as the length of both intervals, but the overall principle is working as hard as possible and then resting just enough to recover some of your oxygen debt, before going again.
It can be highly effective for fat loss and is also very convenient, because the intervals are normally very short, so the entire workout can be done within 10-20 minutes.
The other great thing about HIIT is that it can be done with any cardio equipment. You can use a rowing machine, exercise bike, treadmill or cross-trainer.
The ultimate no-equipment workout, calisthenics can be done anywhere at any time with only your body. Exercises such as burpees, star-jumps, squats, squat jumps, push-ups, sit-ups etc. All utilise your body-weight as the source of resistance, therefore meaning you don't need any additional equipment and as you get stronger you can perform more reps. In terms of the format of your workouts, you should aim to perform high rep sets and minimise rest. By doing this you can keep the cardiovascular training effect high, especially if you include a majority of leg exercises in your sets. You can also combine HIIT format with calisthenic exercises, but HIIT works better with cardio machines.
Most people have a set of stairs at home and these make for an excellent training method. Stair climbing results in a fantastic cardio effect, as you're using your legs to lift your entire body weight against gravity with every step. There's several stair climbing methods you can use to mix things up. Here's a few ideas:
Standard stair walking - Simply walk up the entire staircase and back down, that's one rep.
Giant steps - Try stepping two, three or even four steps at a time, this will really work your legs more than normal, particularly your hamstrings.
Staggered reps - Step up the first step and back down, then climb the first two steps and back down, keep adding an extra step after every rep.
Climbing lunges - Rather than walking up the steps, perform lunges up the stairs, alternating from right to left legs. You can then descend the stairs using backward lunges or simply jog back down. You may need to do two or three steps at a time to perform a proper lunge.
Two footed jumps - Perform two footed jumps up the stairs and back down the steps or you can walk back down. Again, as with giant steps, you can aim to jump several steps at a time.
- Single leg jumps - For a powerful leg training effect as well as maintaining the cardio training effect, try performing single leg jumps or hops. You can alternate legs, or for the ultimate lactic acid burn perform an entire climb on one leg and then change legs for the next climb.
Steady State Cardio
Steady state cardio is what most people think of when you refer to cardio workouts. This is simply performing cardiovascular workouts at a steady pace for a set period of time. A great method of doing this is using a heart rate monitor. Most heart rate monitors can be set with an upper and lower heart rate limit so that an alarm sounds if you exercise too hard or not hard enough.
True steady state cardio is best performed at 55% to 85% of your maximum heart rate. This is best performed using cardio equipment as you can regulate the resistance to achieve the ideal intensity. The choice of machine is down to personal preference, but the highest intensities can be achieved with the treadmill, rowing machine and exercise bike.
It doesn't necessarily have to be performed at exactly the same intensity for the entire workout. Some cardio machines have workout programs that include some natural variation in the resistance so you don't get bored. All of the York Fitness cardio machines include a wide range of workout programs.
Steady state cardio is also the best form of exercise if you are recovering from injury or are new to cardio exercise. Cross-trainers are one of the best all-body workouts, that are also low impact if you are trying to avoid impact-related injury.
So that's four excellent methods for mastering your cardiovascular fitness at home. To help you conquer your cardio we've created a couple of great offers on two of our most popular pieces of equipment:
Our highly popular 115 folding treadmill currently has a massive 43% off, that's a saving of £300! Simply click the button below to shop now.
We're also offering £71.99 off one of our studio quality spin bikes, use the code 1000SPINCARDIO to claim this discount.