How to Improve Fitness Fast and Effectively

How to Improve Fitness Fast and Effectively

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Boost Your Cardio and Stamina for Optimal Health

Improving and maintaining your fitness is not merely a path for body builders and hard-core exercise gurus. Improving your fitness is about enhancing how well you can perform physical tasks, and more easily enjoy a healthy and whole lifestyle. But just because there are simple ways to elevate your physical prowess, doesn’t mean you won’t have to put in work. WIth a few straightforward methods, you can quickly and effectively reach your fitness goals.

How to Level Up Your Fitness Game

There are two key components to foundational fitness: cardiovascular health and stamina. By focusing on and improving these two areas of your workout, you will not only increase your physical potential, but you will do so quickly and efficiently. So how do you elevate your exercise routines to include optimal cardio and endurance training?

  • Understand your unique body composition and health goals
  • Make a plan before you exercise
  • Motivate yourself and keep your eyes on the prize
Pump up the Volume

Everyone knows that healthy humans need cardiovascular exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Cardiovascular health includes your entire circulatory system: heart and blood vessels. Pulmonary health (those beautiful lungs) depend upon the heart’s ability to circulate oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. Improving cardio health doesn’t just increase your ability to perform, it may save your life!

An effective cardio workout includes movements and activities that raise your heart rate. Individuals should note any cardio restrictions or medical concerns before increasing physical activity. It’s also worth mentioning that target heart rates vary among individuals, depending on age and fitness goals. When planning a workout routine, it is important to identify your target heart rate and know how to monitor accordingly.

Cardio-Rich Routine

It doesn’t take much to increase your heart rate. Any exercise that includes movement of the large muscles (arms, legs, hips) will increase the heart’s need to circulate more oxygen. Walking, jogging, bicycling, and swimming are all great ways to increase cardio, and many people find these activities enjoyable and inexpensive. But how do you accelerate the process for maximum results? High-intensity interval training (HIIT).

What exactly is HIIT? It is a time-saving, calorie burning, cardio-pumping exercise method with a ton of potential. The premise behind HIIT is to get fit fast, but it is also an excellent pathway to increase cardio. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend that adults average between 150 to 300 minutes per week of moderately intense activity per week. That’s between 2.5 to 5 hours! With a high-intensity regime, you could half that, by either spending less time or fewer days at the gym.

Here are some ideal ways to get started with a HIIT routine:

  • For beginners, choose three to four movements, such as jabbing, jumping jacks, and squats, and put them together for about 20 seconds of workout. Rest for a period of 10 seconds, then repeat the process for a total of three rounds.
  • Increase the work out with either more movements (five to seven) and more time engaged in the workout (30 to 45 seconds). Other great movements include push-ups, sit-ups, and lunges.
  • Increase rest and recovery time accordingly (between 15 to 60 seconds). While it is important to rest, limit this period, as HIIT is intended to maximize cardio and endurance.
  • Warm up and cool down. Spend about three minutes at either end with lighter intensity.

With the basic concepts of HIIT, you can choose a number of movements. The goal is to get as many body parts moving as possible for short periods of time to maximize your effort. HIIT offers individuals a faster and more efficient method of improving metabolism, cardio, stamina, and overall body composition. Muscle definition typically occurs when an individual has less than 10 percent body fat, so HIIT can lead you to lean-mean muscles and getting the 6-pack you’ve already worked so hard for!

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Increase Staying Power

So you’ve made a plan, literally HIIT all over the gym, and now you find yourself exhausted and depleted of the motivation you thought would carry you into fitness euphoria. There is much truth to the adage use it or lose it: Performance is short-lived if you don’t have the physical stamina to maintain your fitness regimen.

According to many studies, it takes only two weeks to lose stamina and overall fitness. To understand stamina in scientific terms, it is important to recognize its components. Athletes consider many factors in measuring their endurance. Two common measurements include VO2 max and lactate threshold (LT).

What is VO2 Max?

For athletes to continue their training, they must be able to workout for long periods of time. The VO2 max is also an athlete’s aerobic capacity—their maximum rate to utilize oxygen to support exercise. While important for all athletes, VO2 max is essential to runners. Like building muscles, activities that increase the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems’ uptake of oxygen will enhance endurance.

What is Lactate Threshold?

To understand LT, it is also important to know the difference between aerobic and anaerobic activities. Aerobic exercise includes working out at a moderate pace, giving the body a chance to regulate itself and slowly work up endurance (like jogging or riding a bike). Anaerobic activity is unsustainable for long periods of time, and the body often hits a threshold at which it can perform (like sprinting or using a cycling machine). LT is the body’s limit when it can no longer create the oxygen necessary to breakdown lactate in the blood. Too much lactate in the blood can cause vomiting and queasiness.

One of the amazing aspects of exercise is that the more you workout, the more you can workout. Stamina is built-in, but it’s deflating to put in so much work, only to find yourself at the same weight, same strength, and same performance week after week. That’s why HIIT is also an essential method for boosting endurance and staying power.

  • High-intensity workouts increase cardio, which increase oxygen levels to the blood. Over time, this type of activity increases VO2 capacity and LT to aid in long-distance running and longer gym sessions.
  • Changing up your workout routine with short and varying movements can help prevent injury as a result of overuse during repetitive training.
  • Interval training burns more calories, quickly, which will increase motivation and overall fitness.

Bottom Line

Whether your motivation is losing weight, gaining a chiseled appearance, training for endurance, or improving your overall health, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can provide the benefits you’re seeking.

And you don’t have to engage in HIIT every day. In fact, by not adding variety to your workout routine, your results could dwindle as your body gets used to the same routine. HIIT is so effective, in such a short amount of time, that it isn’t necessary as a part of your daily routine. Try HIIT three days per week, and in between, either rest or participate in other forms of training.

It depends on your motives: Do you want to simply improve your overall fitness or are you a long-distance runner? A few days a week of HIIT with moderate activities, like yoga, walking, or playing sports is all you need to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. For athletes training for races and extreme activities, HIIT in between long-distance bicycling and running is a good way to boost your potential.

What Else Should I Add to My Routine?

Increasing cardio and stamina are not the only aspects of fitness, and it’s important to note that it takes a multifaceted approach to enjoy a healthy lifestyle.

  • You are What Your Eat: Literally, the food you ingest turns into your fuel. Take time to explore diets that optimize your specific workout routine. It’s important to eat a few hours prior to a workout, in between for longer sessions, and afterwards. Don’t forget to eat sensible meals throughout the day. What are the best foods to eat for optimal fitness? Lean meats, fruits and vegetables, nuts, and easily digestible grains.
  • Period: Your body is made of water, it needs it to survive, and it needs it to maintain any workout routine. It is recommended to drink about eight, 8-ounce glasses of water per day, or half your bodyweight in ounces (200 pounds? 100 ounces) for more extreme athletes.
  • Mind Your Muscles: Periodic strength training is essential to improve oxygen flow, stamina, and metabolism. The type of exercising involved in HIIT will help you to gain muscle, but it’s also important to slow down and target specific muscles for maximum gain.

Throughout this process, don’t forget to set goals and look back on what you’ve already achieved. Challenge yourself by working on what’s weak. Push yourself a few days a week to hit and go beyond your limit. Motivate yourself with rewards (seriously an ice cream cone at the end of the week will boost the spirits). And most importantly, live long and prosper.

Practice

As with all things, practice will improve your meditation technique which will in turn improve your well-being.  It’s of benefit to you to begin with as little as 5 minutes a day. Many seasoned practitioners will meditation between 15 – 20 minutes twice a day. Consistency is also important. We wish you good health, a strong mind and a true spirit on your journey!

Give this article a read for some tips to stay motivated to workout.