Gym Cardio Practice

Explore the variey to reach your goals...Screen shot 2011-06-03 at 6.26.20 PM

Gyms are not for everyone for a variety of reasons but they do offer a large range of activities allowing users to mix things up and keep their workouts fresh. Whether your goal is to lose weight, gain muscle or stay healthy, joining a gym could be an important step in reaching it. You don't have to join a gym to get a good workout, but gyms offer more variety, more energy and more resources for getting you started on the right foot. To get the most of your gym membership, do your research and don't settle for less than what you need to a great workout.

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You can expect: variety in resources

Level of Effort: Easy to Difficult - you make the choice

Time Involved: 30 minutes (or more)

 

Getting Started:

  1. Attend gym orientation or meet with fitness facility coordinator/trainer and take a tour
  2. Determine the parameters of each session and schedule it. Specifically you will want to determine the length, frequency and intensity of your workout sessions. Find the intensity that challenges you, that gets you out of breath, that makes you sweat-yet at the same time, that you can handle without hurting yourself or cheating.
  3. Determine which activities you will do
  4. Warm up and Cool down with each workout
  5. Write in your activity journal

 

What to Consider:

 


 

1. Attend gym orientation or meet with fitness facility coordinator/trainer and take a tour

Attend gym orientation or meet with fitness facility coordinator/trainer and take a tour to familiarize yourself with the club and all it has to offer. Find out where things are, how to adjust the machines and just get familiar with the gym. Also your coordinator will give you someone you can go to for help if you need it.

 

2. Determine the parameters of each session and schedule it

Length of workout

The length of your workout is up to you but the National Institutes of Health recommend at least 30 minutes of cardio, 5 times a week. Depending on the number of activities you build into your overall daily body practice and your intensity for each session you can decide how long to make your workout.

  • Workout Duration. Determining how long you should workout per week and per session can be done in many ways. Use the button below for some suggestions:

Workout Duration

  • Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) You can also calculate the number of calories your body actually needs in order to function. If you understand the amount of calories your body needs to function then you can determine how many calories are needed to maintain your current weight and then how many to lose weight. There is a right number of calories for you to eat each day. This number depends on your age, activity level, and whether you're trying to lose, maintain or even gain weight. Knowing your BMR can also help you think about how much exercise you are willing to do.

Calculate Your BMR

 

Speed & Intensity

Vary the speed and intensity of a workout. Find the intensity that challenges you, that gets you out of breath, that makes you sweat-yet at the same time, that you can handle without hurting yourself or cheating. Aim for medium to high intensity. Monitor your exercise intensity by knowing your target heart rate and interpreting your perceived exertion.

Exercise Intensity

 

Intervals

An interval workout includes speed and incline changes throughout the workout to help you burn more calories, build endurance and, even better, keep you from getting bored. The idea is to get your heart rate up during the intensity changes and then hold a steady state for about 5 minutes. The interval you choose is one that will bring you to a high level of exertion, then a recovery interval to catch your breath.

 

Frequency

Based on the length of your session, intensity and other workouts you are doing you can determine how often you want to perform your gym cardio practice.

 

Schedule it

Now that the elements are determined, schedule your workout. If you set aside the days and times you will perform your practice you are more likely to stick to it. Remember the idea is to make it a habit, so schedule at least 4 sessions and don't miss or change them and you are on your way.

 

3. Determine which activities you will do

Activity variety - there are variety of machines you can use at the gym. Below is an overview of some of the basic cardio machines you can find at just about fitness facility.

 

Elliptical Trainer - This is a great piece of equipment to start out on with very little joint impact and it's easy on the back. It works almost like a bike; only you pedal while standing up. Some trainers will have ramps that go up and down while others have arm handles. With elliptical trainers, you have the option to work the upper and lower body at the same time or you can just focus on the lower body. You can also add intensity by adjusting the resistance.

Here are some tips to get you going:

  • Work both upper and lower body for greatest intensity
  • If you want the biggest burn for the amount of time, work both the upper and lower body.
  • If you want to just work your lower body with good intensity, don't hang on to the handrail. Instead, put your arms down to your side or pump them as though you were jogging without holding on to anything. This will put more demand on your core muscles as you try to maintain your balance while pedaling.
  • Use forward and backward motion. Most elliptical trainers have a forward and backward pedaling motion. Be sure to use both so that the muscles in the front and back of your legs get a great workout.
  • For greater intensity, change the resistance and incline settings.
  • Play with the various pre-programmed workouts on the machine that will automatically make changes in the resistance and incline for you.

 

30-Minute Elliptical Workout Example:

  1. Begin with a 5-minute warm-up pedaling slowly, with little or no resistance or incline. Concentrate on your form by standing up straight with head looking forward. Do not slouch or lean on the handrails.
  2. Gradually build your pedaling speed to a level that puts you into your target heart rate zone.
  3. Work in your target heart rate zone for 20 minutes while varying your speed, resistance and/or incline.
  4. Spend the last 5 minutes cooling down by gradually slowing your pedaling speed and reducing resistance.
  5. Don't stop abruptly, use this time to let your body cool off and get your heart rate down.
  6. As your heart rate decreases, do some easy neck and shoulder rolls.

 

Stationery Cycle - This is another great option for beginners and probably one of the simpler activities available. Most gyms will offer a recumbent version, which has more back support, and an upright version, which may be more intense.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when working out on the stationery cycle:

  • Adjust the seat to your body. When you sit on the cycle's seat with your foot on the pedal in it's lowest position, there should only be a slight bend in your knee, approximately 25-35 degrees.
  • Watch your form. Pay close attention to your upper body, don't slouch over the handlebars. Keep your torso lifted, shoulders relaxed and head lifted.
  • Don't be afraid to stand. If you're really getting into your ride and want to vary the intensity, crank up the resistance and pedal while standing out of your seat. It adds some variety and helps prevent a sore butt from sitting.

 

30-Minute Stationery Cycle Workout Example:

  1. Begin with a 5-minute warm-up pedaling slowly, without resistance.
  2. Concentrate on your form and gradually start building speed to a level that puts you into your target heart rate zone.
  3. Work in your target heart rate zone for 20 minutes while varying your speed and resistance.
  4. Spend the last 5 minutes cooling down by gradually slowing your pedaling speed and reducing resistance.
  5. Don't stop abruptly, use this time to let your body cool off and get your heart rate down.
  6. As your heart rate begins to decrease, let go of the handlebars, sit upright and loosen up your upper body.
  7. Try doing neck and shoulder rolls, stretch your torso by reaching up to the ceiling with your hands and cross your arms in front and give yourself a hug while you stretch out your upper back.

 

Stair Machine - Climbing stairs is a popular activity that provides a great calorie burn. With this machine, you stand on the pedals and push up and down while holding onto the handles. This machine is tougher than the others, requiring more conditioning for the legs and heart, so it may not be best for beginners. The machine is fairly easy to master though once you get the feel and get a rhythm going.

Here are some pointers to get you going:

  • Don't lean on the handrails. This is perhaps the most common mistake stair climbers make. Leaning on the handrails significantly decreases the effect of the workout.
  • Keep your body centered. When you first start out on the stair machine, keeping your body centered over the stair pedals can be easier said than done. Lightly hold the handrails to help keep yourself directly over the pedals until you gain some equilibrium on the machine and then let go of handrails.
  • Pay attention to your form. Maintain an erect, natural posture, head up, shoulders relaxed and hands gently holding on to the handrails.

 

30-Minute Stair Workout Example:

  1. Begin with a 5-minute warm-up slowly climbing the stairs. Concentrate on your form and center your body over the pedals.
  2. Gradually build your climbing speed and resistance to a level that puts you into your target heart rate zone.
  3. Stay in your target heart rate zone for 20 minutes. During this time, vary your stepping speed, resistance and the depth of your steps.
  4. Taking slow deep steps will work your muscles differently than taking short quick steps and will provide your muscles with a well rounded workout.
  5. When you feel you've mastered your balance using the handrails, let go with one hand and alternate with the other. Pump your arm in the same motion you would walking up a flight of stairs.
  6. When that gets comfortable, let go of the handrails with both hands and learn to step without using the rails. You'll get the maximum effect of your workout this way and gain a great sense of balance!
  7. The last 5 minutes are spent cooling down. Gradually slow your speed and resistance.
  8. Don't stop abruptly, use this time to let your body cool off and get your heart rate down.
  9. Once you get to a pace that's slow and easy, do some neck and shoulder rolls and shake out your arms and hands.

 

NordicTrack - This machine simulates cross-country skiing. If you're lucky enough to have access to one, it's a terrific workout with virtually no impact on your joints. It takes a little getting used to at first, but with a bit of practice you'll be skiing across the tundra!

  • To get started, step into the toe cups and lean slightly forward into the hip pad. The hip pad should be adjusted to approximately an inch below your bellybutton.
  • Adjust the lower body resistance to 3-5 pounds, handgrip resistance should be little to none and begin without any elevation.
  • Hold onto the handlebars in front of the hip pad and start gliding one foot forward, one foot back. Use the hip pad to help you maintain your balance.
  • When you get comfortable with the lower body motion and get a rhythm established, try letting go of one handlebar and swing your arm back and forth. Then repeat with the other arm.
  • The next step is to keep your feet gliding and grab the cabled handgrips.
  • Swing your arms in a back and forth motion while holding the grips. Concentrate on keeping your hips against the pad while leaning slightly forward.
  • Once you get the hang of the upper and lower body movement in combination, begin increasing your speed and/or resistance settings.

 

30-Minute NordicTrack Workout Example:

  1. Begin with a 5-minute warm-up gliding slowly, without resistance. Concentrate on your form and get your rhythm going.
  2. Begin to build your speed to a level that puts you into your target heart rate zone.
  3. Spend 20 minutes in your target heart rate zone while varying your speed, resistance and/or elevation level. Be sure to periodically focus on your form during the workout.
  4. The last 5 minutes are spent cooling down by gradually slowing your gliding speed and reducing resistance and elevation to a minimum.
  5. Don't stop abruptly, use this time to let your body cool off and get your heart rate down.
  6. As your heart rate begins to decrease, let go of the handgrips and hold onto the handlebars in front of the hip pad.
  7. Continue gliding while doing some slow neck rolls and gently tilting your head side to side.
  8. If you feel comfortable, let go of the handlebar with one hand and gently roll your shoulder then swing your arm back and forth. Repeat with your other arm.

 

Rowing Machine - Rowing is a great workout with virtually no impact on your joints, that's easy to use. Many people think this machine is only good for the upper body, but that's not true. Rowing targets both the upper and lower body muscles.

  • To get started, take a seat, grab the handle and slide the seat forward until your legs are bent a little more than 90 degrees and your arms are straight out in front of you.
  • Now, push with your legs, and when they're almost straight, pull the handle to just below your chest level.
  • Keep your elbows tucked close to your side and your back should have a slight natural arch.
  • To release, straighten your arms, then bend your knees after the handle clears them and slowly glide forward to the starting position.
  • Once you get a rhythm going you'll be able to close your eyes and visualize yourself wherever you want to be, peacefully sculling through the water.

 

30 Minute Rowing Workout Example:

  1. Begin with a 5-minute warm-up on a light resistance setting, rowing slowly. Concentrate on your form and get your rhythm going.
  2. Begin to build your speed and resistance to a level that puts you into your target heart rate zone.
  3. Stay in your target heart rate zone for the next 20 minutes while varying your rowing speed and resistance level.
  4. If you find you're over your target heart rate, consider rowing intervals; row for one minute, rest for one minute and so on.
  5. Gradually build up the intervals until you can row for 20 minutes straight. Periodically focus on your form during the workout to get the greatest effect.
  6. During the last 5 minutes cool down, gradually slowing your rowing speed and reducing the resistance to a minimum.
  7. Don't stop abruptly, use this time to let your body cool off and get your heart rate down.
  8. As your heart rate begins to decrease, let go of the handle and just use your legs to slowly glide forward and back.
  9. Continue gliding while doing some slow neck and shoulder rolls.

 

Treadmill - This is one of the most popular machines in the gym because it mimics activities most of us are familiar with -- walking and running. Many people new to a gym like to start with the treadmill because it's easy to use and it's familiar. You can walk or run and you can adjust speed and incline for variety.

Treadmill Walk or Run Practice: Learn More...

 

Classes - Most gyms offer a variety of classes from aerobics to kickboxing. The group fitness area and studios for classes can appear intimidating, since they have glass doors and windows so that everyone can see in. But don't run off just yet, if you scroll through the classes your gym offers, you may find something you've always wanted to try.

Just a few classes your gym might offer include:

  • Step aerobics
  • Kickboxing
  • Group strength training
  • Dance classes like hip-hop or salsa
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Spinning (on a stationary-type bike)
  • Your club might also have specialty classes (core workouts, BOSU Balance Trainer classes, boot camp).
  • If your club has a pool, they might offer water aerobics as well.

 

If you're shy, these ideas might help:

  • Watch the class from a distance to get a feel for it.
  • Get a friend to try the class with you.
  • Get there early and spend a few minutes on a cardio machine to calm your nerves.
  • Make friends with someone in the class. Approach someone who looks friendly and ask if he/she has taken the class before. If he has, admit you're new and ask for details. Many times, that person will take you under his wing and walk you through the basics.
  • Talk to the instructor. Get to class early and introduce yourself to the instructor. He or she will know exactly how to make you feel more comfortable.
  • Remind yourself you can always leave if you don't like the class or it's a disaster.
  • Don't be afraid to try something new. Just make sure you read the class descriptions and choose workouts that fit your fitness level and goals.

 

4. Warm up and Cool down with each workout

 

5. Write in your activity journal

Track your activity, duration, intensity and how you felt before and after the activity. Learn More...

 

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