Watch out for these common cardio mistakes.
Why: Proper hydration is essential for continued optimal performance, as well as recovery. That’s because a number of important metabolic processes can only occur in water. Thus, poor hydration levels during and after a session can have serious implications. When your body is not properly hydrated brain activity also decreases which can make you feel tired- which doesn’t help your cardio routine. Digestion can also be negatively affected if you become dehydrated after exercise.
Fix it: The general rule is to drink at least 200-250ml of water every 20 minutes during strenuous exercise. An electrolyte replacement solution is also ideal after strenuous exercise to replace what has been lost through sweat.
Why: Longer duration, lower intensity cardio at a steady state will preferentially ‘tap’ into fat stores for fuel, which assists with fat loss (not necessarily weight loss). However, the shift from glycogen to stored fat as a source of fuel generally only happens after 20 minutes (depending on your stored glycogen levels in relation to your diet and activity levels). You can overcome this by doing your cardio after a weight training workout, which will deplete glycogen stores. But, it is not as effective at improving fitness levels. High-intensity sessions over short durations will take your heart rate through a wider range of heart rate zones, which improves your fitness levels. It blast as many calories as possible in a short period of time, which makes it an effective way to lose weight.
Fix it: Training using a combination of Low Intensity Steady State cardio and High Intensity Interval Training to reap the benefits of both strategies. But, if your time is short, HIIT trumps LISS on all fronts.
Why: While sweating is a good indicator of your workout intensity, it could also be misleading. The humidity or temperature of the environment you are training in, the clothes you are wearing and your hydration levels can all affect the rate at which you sweat. Therefore, you shouldn’t use how much you sweat as the only indicator of your workout intensity or the effectiveness of your workout. Excessive sweating can also lead to dehydration.
Fix it: Wear the appropriate clothing when you train. Your workout gear should be made of material that wicks moisture away and helps your body to cool itself more efficiently. You can also try the talk test. Try to talk to your workout partner, if you are able to chat about your plans this weekend too easily, then you are probably not working out hard enough. Another alternative is wearing a counter to establish how much you burnt during a workout.
Why: Cardio is not the only form of exercise you should be doing to lose weight or burn fat. When you stop training, that’s where the fat-burning potential ends. Too much cardio also reduces overall muscle mass. Whereas, if you implement weight training, the added muscle mass will keep your metabolic furnace running long after your workout session.
Fix it: Eating a clean and healthy diet, and combining cardio and strength training will ensure you start seeing improvements in your overall health, your body composition and your weight.
Author: Tanja Schmitz
Founder and Editor of Fitness Magazine. You’ll find her behind her computer or on her bike, dreaming up new ways to improve or create content for you.