Summer is right around the corner, so that means it’s time for some cardio. But, here’s the thing about cardio: I hate it. Just thinking about doing cardio makes me cringe. I’d skip the cardio, but my doctor recommends it. He says my heart requires cardio. He also said that some of my muscle groups are being neglected, and that cardio can help me develop an athletic frame, as opposed to the beefy, muscular frame I was currently sporting...
I gave it some thought. I certainly didn’t want my ticker to quit ticking, but it was the comments about my muscle groups that really sold me on cardio. I’m a serious weightlifter. I’m ripped, but I know my physique can be improved. I want my physique to be improved. According to my doctor, doing cardio can improve my calves, glutes, hams and quads (as well as it’s great at exercising away pesky stomach fat).
If only I could convince myself that cardio wasn’t completely beneath me. I couldn’t picture myself running on the treadmill, or even the street for that matter. (I hate running.) I certainly wasn’t going to use the elliptical – especially considering those machines are dominated by soccer moms desperate to get their bodies swimsuit ready. My muscular body would look foolish sandwiched between two soccer moms engaged in a debate over the merits of organic eating.
I expressed these reservations to my doctor and he said, “Make a list of the activities you do enjoy – indoors or out – and start doing them.” It was simple advice, but in the end it worked. I determined that cardio didn’t have to take place in the gym, or running laps around the high school track. I could integrate cardio into my life by participating in activities that matched my lifestyle. I could make cardio fun!
Here’s how I made cardio fun:
Rollerblading – I hadn’t been rollerblading in years. I used to blade all the time back when I was younger, but the activity faded after I took up weightlifting. According to Livestrong.com, “Rollerblading gives the large muscles of the lower body an amazing workout.”
Could cardio really be as simple as reintroducing myself to an old hobby? As it turns out, it could! And it has. After just a couple days of blading, I was feeling more heart healthy and energized. My doc was pleased, and so were my quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. Now, it’s my doctor’s orders that I regularly get aggressive with my k2s, a softboot inline skate that has a cable tension tightening system to keep me balanced.
Boxing – I decided to train like a fighter, and took up boxing when the weather turned too cold for rollerblading. The experience has been thrilling, and it’s great cardio.
“Training is where the mind, the heart, AND the body are pushed and tested,” writes A. Manly, a guest blogger at The Art of Manliness.
Boxing keeps me in great shape, provides me with cardio, and offers me an additional space to lift. My boxing gym is littered in weights, and punching bags. I’m at home there. It’s so much fun that sometimes I forget that I’m doing cardio!
Swimming and Rowing – My girlfriend’s family lives on a peaceful lake. I’ve always loved it there. In the summer, I plan to switch up my cardio routine by taking her on a rowing trip. I’ll row clear to other side of the lake, anchor the row boat and the two of us will swim in the deeper water. We’ve done this before, but I’d never realized what great cardio these activities were.
She loves swimming and boating, and I don’t mind getting her alone for a while, so I plan to keep my routine fresh this summer by rowing and swimming more often. I guess that’s the secret to making cardio fun – you have to find cardio in uncommon places.
Think About What You’re Already Doing
If I had to advise my fellow bodybuilders on how to keep cardio fresh and fun, I’d tell them to brainstorm any activities they already participate in that get them out of breath.
Chances are high that many of you are already doing cardio once a week or once a month, and simply increasing that activity will help you meet your cardio goals. Do you meet on the court to play basketball once a week? Are you into tennis or another sport? If you’re meeting regularly to participate in sports, why not increase that to three times a week and thus satisfy your body’s need for regular cardio?
If you’re like the old me, you only weight train because building muscle mass is the most important thing. But, it’s time to change your thinking, embrace what’s fun about cardio, and find a way to integrate it into your life because the old me wasn’t as fit or muscular as the new me.