The internet, particularly Google and youtube.com have revolutionised how we research and learn. However, on the flipside, too much information can make informed decisions really difficult and confusing, particularly when it comes to cardio fitness workouts for beginners and where to start.
Buying a piece of home fitness equipment or joining a gym are major purchases, not just financially but also as emotional investments. Both represent a form of investing in self and when and if not used or lapsed, can lead to all sorts of ingrained guilt and self-imposed belief systems. So where do you start on your cardio journey and how can you stay motivated?
Experiment with Different Machines
Regardless of whether you have exercised before or not, try before you buy. If you aren’t sure what product is best for you, write an initial check list of ‘must-haves’ (eg in terms of a maximum budget and if you have limited space). If friends and family don’t already have a particular machine to try, you can always get a day pass at a gym. You may even decide that you prefer to work out in a gym and would rather use their choice of machines, even as a short-term solution.
During your visit, you can and should ask their fitness experts for a show-round so you get a clearer picture of what might be best for you. Just remember not to overdo it, and definitely don’t use a machine without knowing how it works, particularly if you haven’t exercised for a while or if it is a cold or damp day and you suffer with your joints.
Keep It Short
To avoid injury and to be sensible, build up your workouts on a gradual basis. Long workouts can also become boring if they aren’t varied, once you have built up your fitness levels and ability. Always allow five minutes plus to warm up and another five minutes to cool down and also include a stretching session.
Never feel like you need to be running or pedalling for the sake of showing off or competition. You can easily burn calories during shorter sessions – it all depends on your goals, weight and ability. Your cardio programme is exclusive to you and will and should evolve over time.
Include a Warmup and Cooldown
When it comes to your warm up and cool down, some machines have pre-programmed options for a cardio workout but even if they don’t, make sure you warm up and cool down your muscles before and after any form of exercise.
Even if you are doing an exercise bike workout for your legs, ensure that you warm up your upper body as well. The NHS website has an easy-to-navigate guide to warming up, including marching on the spot, heel digs, knee lifts, shoulder rolls and knee bends. You can also adapt a workout plan to accommodate any injuries or health limitations.
Always Progressively Overload Each Workout
You may find it helpful to follow a fitness programme such as ‘Couch to 5k’ or one of the many programmes available in person or online. Bottom line, you should build up gradually and set some goals and markers along the way; not just to motivate you but also to ensure that you are accountable to yourself.
If you do too much too soon, you might seriously injure yourself so be sensible and don’t expect to see or feel results overnight. When Roger Black was training for an Olympics or a major sporting competition, he didn’t go from zero to Olympian overnight. It took years of consistency and focus. Be patient with yourself.
Find a Workout Partner
If you tend to get bored working out on your own or thrive on a bit of healthy competitive spirit, try and find a workout buddy. This could be someone you know or a new friend or work colleague that you find through a local Facebook.com group or similar.
Finding like-minded people, who may be embarking upon a similar journey to your own, can be invigorating and help to put a little spring in your step. Plus, most people working out at home are exercising alone so we would always encourage you to share your stories and progress with a friend or family member.
Let’s face it, the last year and a half has taken its toll on all of us in different ways. So make a decision and take action to start and take your cardio fitness to the next level, either alone or with a partner. Best of luck and if you have any questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
*You should seek medical advice prior to working out on a cardio machine. Always unplug your home fitness equipment after use and remove cables and trip hazards to keep your home or work environment safe. Children should be supervised during fitness equipment use.