... as a former elliptical junkie and cardio queen
.... as someone who has done fistfuls of half marathons, two Half-Ironman competitions, and a bunch of Olympic and Sprint Triathlons....
... as a Spinning instructor
.... Cardio Sucks.
It's SO boring. Put me in a spin class and I'm the happiest duck in the pond but I will take lifting weights over running ANY day.
Look, there are a ton of reasons why cardiovascular exercise is super important... It strengthens your heart, is wonderful for your blood pressure and cardiac output, promotes metabolic waste removal and oxygen delivery to tissues, it is essential for healthy lungs, strengthening large major muscle groups, and will make you a smiley, happy person.
But guys.... it can be SO boring and many of us do it wrong.
The American Council on Exercise defines cardiovascular exercise as movement that increases your heart rate and improves oxygen consumption in the body.
Let's rethink it a little...
Can walking be cardio? Absolutely.
Can shopping then be cardio? Pretty much.
Can parenting be considered cardio? Hell to the Yes!!
Now, if you sit all day, this is a different story. However, if you're a parent who chases around your kiddo (especially if you have more than one) all day, do we really need to spend most of our time at the gym doing MORE cardio? Probably not!
For whatever reason, we've all had it shoved down our throats that cardio = weight loss = results = happiness. This is why it's impossible to get on an elliptical after the holidays during peak hours. But this can be a massive waste of your time if you're looking for weight loss and "toning". (Oh... I hate that word so much.....)
Sure, I friggin love my spin classes, doing laps in the pool, and taking my son out for a run in the jogger. I just don't have the time to then hop on an elliptical at a low resistance for 45 minutes anymore, and I doubt you do, too!
Here's the deal, if you're looking to build muscle and change your tissues to metabolically active firehouses, you have to LIFT THINGS. You can also just lift YOU and get an amazing workout. Bodyweight squats, lunges, pushups (as long as you're DR free), superwomans, and heel slides will all get you amazing results if you don't have weights.
(*** This is for my post-post partum mommas that are all cleared for exercise and haven't had any pelvic floor dysfunction issues. If you're newly postpartum or your doctor wants you to back off during your pregnancy, you get to do all the light-resistance, low-impact exercising that your heart desires! Moving = always better than no moving!***)
As an example, when I was training for my Tris, 5ks, and teaching 15 spin classes a week I never got close to the results I've had from shorter workouts with heavier things. I also had way more injuries when I backed off my strength training routines to allow more time for longer runs, rides, and laps.
Will you get your heart rate up while lifting the heavier things? Of course!
Will a bootcamp make you all tomato-faced and sweaty? Um, like, every workout.
So, if you only have 30 minutes to exercise what should you be doing?
Anything you want!
Swim, do laps of the mall, jump in a dance class, just move in any way your heart desires. I'm not going to tell you what you're doing is wrong or pressure you to do workouts that make you miserable. BUT, if you're hoping to lose weight or "tone" (again... hate that word so much!), you might want to consider some strength training instead. Being a mom IS cardio... so mixing it up with some weights will get you optimal results for your health. We have to be able to lift our babies and all of their crap.
Look, if you're able to get out of the house, toss on some headphones and jog on the elliptical while reading a magazine and that makes you happy, DO IT. Seriously. The main reason I'm even writing this is because so many of my new mommas come to me frustrated because they aren't seeing results and overspending your time on a treadmill could be one of the main reasons. If this resonates with you and you want to try some strength training I am here to help!
Download my free workout and let me know what you think: