So you’ve been working out hard and yet you still cannot shed that extra layer of fat off of your body. When I hear this from clients my first question is typically on the intensity level of their activity, and in particular about their cardiovascular level. Basically, as you get more fit your cardiovascular level changes and sometimes you need to adjust your workouts. In my opinion, if you’re able to leisurely read a book while you’re doing your cardio, you’re not working out hard enough. Exercise needs to be done with intention and focus! For those who are pretty fit, I often recommend a high intensity cardio workout. The workouts are performed at such a level that your body will burn more calories throughout the day to recover. If you stay on a particular plateau, you will not use as much oxygen and therefore be in a lower metabolic zone throughout the day. Of course, in a perfect world, cardio is best done on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. This is of course followed by a healthy breakfast.
So what does this mean? It means that later that evening when you’re on the couch with your latest fashion magazine, the remote, and tuned into the Bachelorette, that you could essentially be burning nine times the amount of calories than if you did a lower intensity workout. The benefit of this type of exercise is that you do not do it for a very long duration. You will also increase your VO2 max, which is defined as the amount of oxygen needed to perform your workout. Here is how it works:
When you first jump on the elliptical, treadmill, bike, or stair climber, start out with a five minute warm-up. Then push your hardest, out of your comfort zone and working toward your maximum heart rate for 20 to 30 seconds. You can then come down to your target heart rate zone for a two minute recovery and then go back up to your ultimate intensity level for another 20-30 seconds. Try to do this six times the first time and eventually as you get stronger and progress throughout the weeks work up to ten cycles. If you’re unsure of your target heart rate and maximum heart rate, you can go by your rate of perceived exertion.