As the holidays approach and we are in the thick of pumpkin pies, turkey dinners and overscheduled calendars, common fitness advice is to find time to squeeze in a workout whenever and wherever possible. Good advice, to be sure. So, let’s look at some ways to use cardio training to help you get the most out of your exercising efforts with the time you have.
Ramp Up Your Cardio for Weight Loss and Maintenance
The good news for your hectic holiday schedule is that you don’t have to bang out hours on the treadmill to realize the best results for your body. Try interval cardio training. Interval cardio training is where intense bouts of cardio are followed by less intense recovery intervals. Focusing on intense bursts of exercise in your workout will not only jumpstart your heart rate but burn body fat quicker as well.
In fact, research  shows that shorter duration of high-intensity exercise can be more beneficial than traditional endurance training in burning body fat. High-intensity cardio sessions can also speed up your metabolism for hours following your workout session.
So, if weight loss and maintenance is your main goal this holiday season, ditch the treadmill and opt for a more fast and furious workout full of burpees, wind sprints and slam balls. Your belly will appreciate it and so will the number on the scale come January 1.
Incorporate Cardio for Greater Strength and Muscle Definition
As we all know, strength exercises build muscle. Cardio, when coupled with proper nutrition, is the secret weapon to defining and showing off the hours spent in the weight room. To create greater muscle definition in the common problem areas (arms, abs, glutes), it is important to incorporate metabolic cardio conditioning to your fitness regimen to unveil your hidden lean and sleek muscles.
A recent study  that evaluated the effect of training methods on female college athletes found that concurrent strength and aerobic endurance training was highly effective on muscle strength and endurance, body composition and flexibility.
When your goal is to build strength and muscle, combining strength-training exercises with total body cardio is key to realizing the best results. This type of cardio approach packs a variety of total body movements into your workout that aims to raise your heart rate and maintain the increased level for 5-10 minutes.
Maintain Consistent Cardio for Endurance Training
Whether your goal is to achieve a personal best at this year’s turkey trot or you’re planning to start the New Year with a triathlon or long distance running race, consistent cardio exercises are the key to any training program. There is no doubt that in order to prepare your body for a long endurance event, you have to put in the mileage. If you are signed up to run a half marathon in January, then you have to prepare your body to pound the pavement for two hours by running (not walking or using an elliptical machine) the mileage laid out in your training plan.
If your goal this season is to combat the belly bounce, build more muscle or successfully train for an upcoming endurance event, incorporating the right type and amount of cardio into your fitness routine will not only make you feel better and look better, but also perform better.
At Fitness Together of East Orlando, we build cardio into each of our client’s programs based on their overall objectives and goals. Combining the right type and volume of cardio with our one-on-one or group training programs, along with proper nutrition through our Nutrition Together program, is the prescription for fitness success this holiday season.
Wiley-Blackwell (2011, April 6) American Journal of Human Biology.
Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: September 2008 – Volume 22 – Issue 5 – pp 1487-1502.
Article by Glenn Beard, PT, Owner of Fitness Together of East Orlando