5 worst cardio mistakes

When it comes to cardio, you can row, bike, run, dance, take a class… the possibilities are endless. Cardiovascular exercises help strengthen your heart muscles, reduce stress, increase mental wellbeing, boost circulation and more, but it’s probably safe to say most people have a love-hate relationship with cardio. Sure, you feel accomplished after finishing a session, with a sweaty glow as your badge of honor, but how much do you really like running on a treadmill, going nowhere? Learn more about the common cardio mistakes people make and how you can fix them for better results.

Cardio Mistake #1: Leaning on Cardio Machines

If you’re not going for a circuit-style cardiovascular workout and opt for a machine instead, make sure your form is on point. Gripping or holding onto handles may help with balance, but if you lean too much of your weight into them, you’ll reduce the intensity of your workout. This means you won’t burn the maximum amount of calories that the workout can provide, be it on a stationary bike, an elliptical, StairMaster or treadmill. For example, if you’re in a spinning class or even biking on your own, make sure you keep your weight in your legs. If you’re driving up the elevation on a treadmill, keep your hands at your side instead of grabbing the console to keep up with the speed.

Cardio Mistake #2: Doing the Same Type of Cardio Every Time

Whether you take an aerobic class like kickboxing, or always use the treadmill for your cardio, you’re probably not maximizing your workout sessions. Make sure you mix it up, since your body adapts after a few weeks. Changing up the resistance, speed, and machine will keep it challenging and prevent plateaus. You can also make the most of a short amount of time by performing a HIIT routine (high intensity interval training), where you’ll switch from full-force intensity to recovery periods, all within one workout.

Cardio Mistake #3: Staying in the Fat Burning Zone

You’ve seen the fat burning zone on every cardio machine at the gym, which is about 65% of your maximum heart rate. While it’s true that your body burns fat as fuel in that zone, what counts is your overall caloric deficit. The more intense a workout is, the more you’ll burn calories. Also, the fat burning zone has no afterburn effect, a metabolic disturbance that burns calories after a workout is completed. Simply put, a higher heart rate means you burn more calories.

Cardio Mistake #4: Only Doing Cardiovascular Workouts

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Cardio exercise features countless benefits, for weight loss and your health in general, but if you’re not implementing a few strength training sessions a week, you’re missing out. By performing muscle-building exercises too, you’ll boost your metabolism, which results in burning more calories throughout the day. Also, if you regularly do strength training while trying to lose weight, you’ll minimize the lean muscle loss and enjoy an elevated metabolic rate for 36 to 48 hours after training. To help with muscle recovery and muscles soreness, try BPI Sports’ Best BCAA™ for faster absorption.

Cardio Mistake #5: Choosing the Wrong Pre-Workout Snack at the Wrong Time

Have a pre-workout snack about an hour before hitting the cardio machines, instead of right before you exercise. If you eat right before, you’ll end up burning the calories you just had. Go for a healthy snack like a BPI Sports Best Protein Bar™ or an apple and yogurt combo, to help with energy and fat burning power. The Best Protein Bar™ comes in a handful of delicious flavors, from Peanut Butter Crunch and Salted Caramel Pretzel, to S’mores and more, so it’s a convenient grab-and-go way to get your protein fix. For more ways to get protein in every day, read “5 Ways to Sneak More Protein in Your Diet.”

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