Need to get some cardio in but can't get to the gym? Away on vacation and there's no treadmill? Don't fret. Staying in good cardiovascular condition can still be yours. Enter Cardio Circuit Training (CCT). How does it work?
Well, remember that a cardiovascular workout simply involves elevating your heart rate to anywhere from 60-80% of your maximum (depending on your goals—60% for fat burning, up to 80% for fitness). You don't necessarily have to run, because any activity that keeps your heart rate up will suffice, and CCT does just that!
The beauty of CCT is that you can do it in the privacy and convenience of your own room. You only need a small space around you to perform the various exercises, and there's no expensive equipment involved. That way, if you're self conscious about the way you look while exercising, you don't have to worry about that anymore. Since you're moving from one exercise to the next, there's no boredom associated with hours on a treadmill.
So whether your goal is to stay in shape, get fit or burn calories, CCT can help you achieve your goal. Need to burn some extra calories to fit perfectly into that new swimsuit? Looking to cut up for the summer? This may be just what you need!
Cardio To Go: The Quick-Start Manual
O.k. here's how it works. Pick one exercise for each zone—Upper, Middle, and Lower—and perform them in giant set fashion with little or no rest in between exercises. After they're done, rest anywhere from 30-60 seconds and repeat the cycle. Or, you can use different exercises in the next giant set to keep things interesting. Keep going for 30-45 minutes, and your cardio session is done, simple!
Push-ups are great for developing the muscles of the chest, triceps and shoulders. There are many variations of the standard push-up, so feel free to improvise. For beginners, make sure your hands are positioned wider than your shoulders, letting your elbows flare outward on the descent. I suggest never going to failure when doing push-ups in this workout.
The point is to keep your heart rate up, not repping out which may sap your energy levels too quickly. The same goes for the other exercises. If you can do a maximum of 40 push-ups in one setting, limit yourself to 25-30 each time, just enough to give your muscles a nice pump.
These work the triceps and chest. Place your hands on the edge of a chair (make sure it doesn't roll away from you!!) and place your legs on the edge of another chair. Dip down until your elbows make a 90-degree angle and drive back up.
These work primarily the upper and middle abs. They can be performed with the feet on the ground or in the air. Keep the knees bent, whatever the position, to remove stress on the lower back. Crunch slowly. Better to get 10 quality reps than 30 sloppy ones. Avoid pulling the neck toward the chest when crunching. Shoot for 25 reps.
These are performed similar to the regular crunch, except you twist the torso toward the center on the way upward to activate the obliques. Do 25 reps.
Bent Knee Leg Lifts:
These work the lower abs. Lie flat on the ground, placing the hands under the lower back. Bend the knees in a 90-degree angle, and crunch by bringing the knees toward the chest. Do 25 reps.
These work the lower abs and the hip flexors. Sit with your butt at the edge of a chair, placing your hands behind you for support. Bring your feet off the ground and bend the knees in a 90-degree angle. Pull the knees toward the torso, keeping the feet off the ground until the entire set is completed. Do 25 reps.
The Final Word
A Few Points To Remember:
- Stretch before and after your workout
- Have a bottle of water handy to stay hydrated
- Practice good form and stop if you feel faint or dizzy!
The exercises presented in my article are not comprehensive, and you don't have to follow my workout to the letter. I am simply providing a framework to help you get started. The key is to keep your heart rate elevated. Feel free to improvise if you can't perform certain movements and be creative in constructing your own workout.
If you own a set of free weights, you can even do regular free weight movements that you would do at the gym like dumbbell curls or shoulder presses. The wonder of CCT is that you can perform as many exercises as you want in limitless combinations in the convenience of your own room. Now that you don't have any excuses, it's time to get some cardio in!