If you’ve read the previous post on choosing between weight-lifting and cardio work, you will have understood that you should really do both. If you’re like me, you will much prefer lifting weights than cycling on a stationary bike. So how do you stop yourself from getting bored with your cardio and stopping?
Cardio work, although very often thought of as simply running or cycling on a stationary bike, is not limited to these boring repetitive activities. Cardio is also playing football, badminton, tennis, basketball, in fact, any long-lasting activity that will get you out of breath for a sustain period. Although heavy squats will certainly make you gasp for breath, they are not a sustained activity. So pick the sports you enjoy and you will most certainly stick to them in the long-term.
Because it is already tricky to get yourself committed to a cardio activity regularly and over the long-term, it is not advisable to pick an activity where you depend on someone to fulfil it, for example playing tennis. If your partner is not available for any number of reason (sick, tired, on holiday, had a row), you will miss your cardio or sports session. As playing against someone is much more entertaining, a solution to this problem would be to find several partners and play different sports throughout a week. This way if one person pulls out, you can always rely on other days’ activities to keep fit.
One other way to make cardio workouts more interesting is to compete. You can compete against others but more easily, you can compete against yourself. On the treadmill or stationary bike, you can compete against yourself on time or distance. You can vary the speed up and down throughout and for the more advanced, go for interval training. By measuring your progress over the weeks and months, you will be able to push yourself and find motivation to continue. Of course, you can also apply this competition to your game of football or basketball.
There is a reason why classes are so popular: man is a social animal. We like to interact with people but also measure ourselves to them. Aerobic, spinning, kickboxing and all the gamut of classes offered by those fancy gyms allow us to participate with others and make us feel part of a community. You will have more incentive to attend a class if you will meet friends there. Women in particular enjoy these classes while men would prefer to be out on the field playing football. There is not much difference between the two activities on a social level but football does allow men to let their competitive streak shine through.
So if you fine yourself dreading the next 20 minutes on the stepper, stop and think again. Can you find an activity you will enjoy? Practice that sport you always wanted to. Are you competitive in nature? Start measuring your progress to push yourself. Or are you a social animal better suited to group activities? Try attending anaerobic class with pulsing music that will increase your energy level.