Cardio, Schmardio

I have always been a cardio queen.  I mean, I Loved it, with a capital L. I swam, I danced, I ran — anything to get me sweating. But in college, I also learned how much I liked weights and how they made me look and feel.  Up until now though, weights have still sort of been a distant second to my beloved cardio, despite me knowing the benefits of strength training.


This is what I'm starting to look like at the gym. Thank goodness for the little TVs on the machines playing Jersey Shore/killing unnecessary brain cells.

Lately though?  I have HATED cardio.  Why? Because it’s been boring. For my training, I’m doing 5 1/2 hours per week of it.  And none of it is supposed to be running, since it’s too catabolic and will break down the muscle I am trying so hard to build (or just keep, since my legs are powerhouses already, thanks).  I keep wanting to swim, but then forget how long it actually takes to change, yank and pull a cap on, get the workout in, and then wrestle out of a wet Speedo before I can even shower.  So by the time I decide I want to do it, I realize I don’t have enough time before work (pre-planning — gotta work on that).  My other options at the gym are the elliptical, the bike, the treadmill (walking on an incline) and the stair climber, which, surprisingly makes the time go by the fastest even though I’m counting every second until I can get off that thing.

I know it was my choice to do this competition, and I’m still going for it, but a girl just needs to whine every once in a while, you know?  A girl also needs some input from her readers every now and again, too!  Do any of you have ideas on how I can shake up my cardio routine? I’m thinking about taking an all-cardio class (none of this toning stuff mixed in — I already do enough resistance training) at one of the studios I work at or one of the gyms I belong to (so much gym-ness in my life!), but I don’t know where to start, so suggest away!  I was also considering getting TurboFire for interval cardio, but I’m not sure if this would cause the same issues running does (any figure competitors want to chime in on this one?).

I’m just soooo booooored with cardio right now that I want to scream! Strength training keeps me on my toes because I really have to focus, and I’m constantly going from one thing to another.  Not so when I’m biking for an hour.  Cardio also makes me really hungry, but I don’t think there’s anything I can do about that one aside from cutting back, which isn’t really an option.  So, like I was asking before, can you help a sister out?  How can I change up my cardio while sticking to my plan? And are you a cardio queen or a dumbbell diva? Which is your fave lately? Spill!

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About Heather

My name is Heather, and I moved from a big Midwestern university to a GIGANTIC Midwestern city. I'm working at a gym as a personal trainer, and I work as a freelance writer on the side. Sometimes I pretend to be an adult. I'm also figuring out how to keep my mouth shut every once in a while -- not here, though. How boring would that be?

Posted on February 14, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. I used to be a cardio queen! Then I picked up my first dumbbell, the host of angels sang, and I fell helplessly in love.

    While my husband was in contest prep mode last year I actually did cardio with him (this was over the early to mid summer, I wasn’t in school, and was only working part time) because I was bored in the house by myself….that came out to at least an hour a day, 2 hours/day split into 2 sessions towards the end. I:

    1) Did intervals on the treadmill — 2 minutes at 12% incline, 1 min at 18% incline, etc
    2) Switched machines — some days I’d do 10 mins on the treadmill, 10 mins on the bike, 10 mins on the stairmaster, then repeat
    3) Did aerobics-only classes

    (BTW — since going from my standard 5 days of cardio/week to 2 and continuing to lift really heavy, I’ve gained more strength & put on more muscle quicker than ever — I am *definitely* off the cardio bandwagon now haha)

    • Yeah, it’s crazy how much more lifting wears me out. If I’m not sore, I don’t feel like I really worked out, haha. I’ve def been trying to switch up the machines since I can’t really abandon cardio at this point, so thanks for the tip!

  2. I’d consider doing Turbo Jam as opposed to Turbofire. Why? I think there may be more jumping in TurboFire than TJ and you may find you won’t break down muscle as much. It’s definitely a workout but you can modify anything you feel is taking you above and beyond your muscle limits. :)

  3. I’m starting to fall in love with distance running again, but I also can’t wait until March when I cut back on teaching BodyPump and can start doing free weights more often again – I miss them!

    As for cardio options, what about some incline interval walking on the treadmill? (I have a couple plans if you want suggestions.) Or classes like Turbo Kick, Zumba – anything with fun music! I’m not sure what classes your studio offers, but I know those are two of my favorites for mixing up my cardio. Or spinning? Can you do that with your training plan?

    • I can spin! And I’ve really been wanting to add a fun, dance-y class, so we’ll see what I can come up with because the elliptical is boring and makes my feet go numb…anyone else have this problem? haha

  4. SPIN! Do any of your gyms have it?? It’s so not boring!! I hate cardio too!

    • Yeah! I’ve been meaning to use your FDAU programs for a while, too! I forget how much I like the bike until I get back on it. And my gym is supposed to have amazing classes, especially spin, but they’re either when I’m working or super early on the days when I actually get a chance to sleep past 6…maybe I’ll get my butt outta bed and try one though!

  5. You need to make cardio fun and go get one of those metabolic VO2 assessments. Seriously, I got one the other day and discovered that prime fat-burning range for me is a heart rate between 94-104. No, those are not typos. Basically walking at 4mph is going to burn 7kcals a minute, but 6 of those are fat. It blew my mind when I saw that, let me tell you. I like going hard and fast and burning as much as I can in as little time as I can, and its all carbs at that intensity, so I was burning all the muscle I was attempting to put on with weights (also eating too little).

    Anyway, I don’t even break a sweat at those levels, so some things you can think of as cardio to work them in:

    bike to work. Bike to the grocery store. Walk to the grocery store and back and carry your groceries (you are cooking for yourself, right? If not, learn to cook!) Go play ultimate frisbee in the park. Offer to walk someone’s dog. Get a part-time job as a dog walker :) Join a Chicago 18″ softball league. Take a walking tour of Chicago architecture, they offer one from the museum of modern architecture I believe (or they used to).

    The trick is to realize fat-burning cardio does not mean sweaty, intensive cardio, and that things you wouldn’t normally think of as cardio (walking) count!

    • I’ve been wanting to get one of them done! Now I’ll have to! I have been doing more walking and when it warms up a little, I do plan on biking outside , especially to work!

  6. I’ve become a bit of a running addict ever since I trained for the half marathon I ran last weekend, but once upon a time, I hated running and did everything I could to avoid it. If you want to get in a great cardio workout, try doing a CrossFit workout. They are fast paced and they do involve some strength training but just the kind that utilizes body weight. If you go to their website, they give you a new workout each day and trust me, it will be a challenge, but it should also cure the boredom. I also subscribe to Shape magazine, and even though they have a lot of nonsense, they do provide a lot of workout ideas to help switch it up.

    If that doesn’t work, just break up your cardio by mixing it into your strength training. Anyone can put up with 15 minutes of boredom, so hop on a bike or strike out running between sets.

    • I have been dying to try CrossFit, but unfortunately, my training is pretty specific, so I can’t add it in just yet! And I want to check to see if I can add in jump rope between sets or something, because I have been really wanting to mix in some cardio, but I need to make sure whatever I do isn’t too catabolic.

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