Just signed up for a gym membership, but not sure quite where to begin? Don’t let the rows of machines and weights at your gym intimidate you. Here is a quick guide to easy cardio gym workouts that will build strength and cut fat in no time. A solid cardio workout is one of the best ways to trim excess fat, increase heart health and burn calories. Most gyms are packed with cardio machinery to help you get your heart rate up and your skinny on. Here are a few good places to start:
1 ~ Go classic with a jog on the treadmill
There’s no workout like running and sometimes, due to weather or location, heading outdoor just isn’t possible. That’s when it’s time to hit the treadmill.
If you’re new to running, don’t be afraid to take it slow. Push yourself to run for as long as you can before allowing a two-minute rest break. Then, run again. Keep this going for a minimum of 20 minutes. Then, try to increase the time, running with the same pattern, by five minutes every one to two weeks. Try to lengthen your running, sprees before walking, with every run. Don’t forget to increase resistance as you get more comfortable with distance on the treadmill! Depending on your weight, moderate running burns roughly 600 calories per hour.
2 ~ Give your joints a break on the elliptical
The elliptical is a great alternative to the treadmill because it can get your heart rate up, without putting high impact on your knees, hips and back. But, that’s not to say you can’t mix it up and work out on both machines… even in the same trip to the gym. Working out on the elliptical also makes for excellent cross training. Go for the machines that also have the arm poles. Those allow you to workout your arms, shoulders and chest while you work your lower half and get your heart rate up.
Start by setting the resistance at three or four and hitting it for 20 to 40 minutes. Looking for an additional challenge? Try starting at level three resistance and working your way up one resistance level every three to five minutes. Use the last five minutes of your workout to cool down at a low resistance and slower pace. For an extra bonus, try pedaling backward for five minutes. It works your calf and hamstring muscles harder than the traditional forward motion.
3 ~ Achieve cardio while you tone with small weights
We often don’t think of weights as a means to cardio gym workouts, but high repetition with small weights will increase your heart rate. That’s not to say that this form of cardio should replace running or the elliptical all together, but it’s another great form of cross training.
Start with really small free weights that create a tiny bit of resistance. For most women, this is likely about five pounds, but if you’re brand new to the gym or are just starting out, think about beginning with three-pound weights. Start with bicep curls, hugging your upper arms close to your ribs as you curl the weights up toward you. Perform these until you cannot do anymore, rest for about 30 seconds to one minute, and then do it again. Repeat once more, for a total of three reps.
Next, hold your weights directly out on either side of your body, forming a T shape. Pulse them here, making small, two-inch movements. Keep a slight bend in your elbows, so as to avoid hyperextension. Pulse until you hit exhaustion and take a break. Perform three reps like this.
Finally, start with your arms out in a T shape again, but this time, face the weights toward each other and, with control, move them up above your head. Continue until exhaustion. Rest and repeat two more times.
The key to making sure these light-weight gym workouts double as a cardio workout is to work each exercise consistently until exhaustion and then perform more reps after a short break. This will have you break a sweat and keep your heart rate up.
4 ~ Give the other cardio machines a try
The row machine may seems a little intimidating but it’s really simple. Set the resistance on a a lower number and see if you can pull for 1000 meters. If this feels pretty good go on until you hit 2500 meters.
Try the different stationary bikes to work different areas of the body. Recumbent bikes sit low with your feet out in front of you. They are generally easier on your low back and gentle on your joints. Upright bikes are a little more intense on your body but will give you a more consistent workout. In addition to lower body, upright bikes will also work your abs and arms too.
Get those glutes by using the stair climber. Stairs will bring on the burn and can really tighten up your buns and thighs. Start light and work your way up over time.
5 ~ Check out the weight machines
Much like using small weights to tone and give a light cardio workout mentioned above. You can use the weight machines the same way. Set the weight really low and do lots of reps. Move from one machine to the next doing as many reps as you can for that muscle group before moving on to the next machine.
Gym workouts can be fun! Just change it up so you don’t get bored and so you continue working different muscle groups.