Hanging on to Old Habits by Mike McGinn

How do we change up our Cardio Routine to reach our goals?

With treadmills, StairMasters or any cardio equipment, first we have to learn to use them correctly, then make little adjustments to the intensity and/or time.

Our bodies are wonderfully efficient self correcting ‘machines’. If we encounter any kind of stress, and exercise is a stress, our bodies acclimate to that stress and finds a way to minimize it’s effects. After a brief time under stress our body gets used to it and the results we want are reduced. We want you to produce RESULTS by making CHANGES to your workouts in order to reach your GOALS. That stress must be changed in some way to force the body to adapt. Turn your walk into a run, increase the intensity by walking uphill, go faster, reduce the time between rest intervals, etc. You get the picture! By doing the same thing over and over, our bodies adapt, and our progress slows down. As the stress becomes less, our efforts become less and we remain where we are…the same by not reaching our goals! You know what the definition of insanity is, right?

Treadmills are one of the most efficient ways to do cardio. They are minimal impact while walking and more safe for your joints while running. They’re functional and simple to operate. We walk every day. Treadmills produce awesome fat burning results in a minimum amount of time. To add to that, there are medical benefits of strengthening your heart and lungs, reducing stress, and increasing stamina. Recent research even shows cardio exercise may reduce our chances of age related illnesses. To get all these benefits we have to DO IT THE RIGHT WAY! Speaking of doing it right…StairMasters are one of the most intense cardio exercises you can do! The results are legendary. So many of us are NOT getting the true benefit out of using it because, again, most of us are not doing it right. How can we make it easier? Supporting much of our weight on the rails reduces the effort because we’re lifting less weight up those steps. People support themselves on the rails with their arms straight or resting on elbows as they use their cell phones, turning sideways with Science is oftentimes just ‘common sense’. When we walk uphill we lean forward so we don’t fall backward. We’re lifting our bodyweight up with each step. If we weighed less, we’d have less weight to lift, and it would be easier. We’d burn less calories, also. Supporting part of our weight by holding on to the railings reduces our weight, and the effort (and results) by approx. 40%, If you hold onto a railing for 1 sec more today than you did yesterday, all else being equal, you’ve made your workout easier and the calorie intake higher than reality. That’s the opposite way to reach your goals. Railings are useful just in case you momentarily lose balance or there’s a medical reason why your safety is jeopardized. The machine shows calories burned with the understanding that you are NOT holding on! Are you doing this on cardio machines entire time on a cardio machines and wondering why the scale does not budge? Even if you can’t exercise for as long without holding on, that’s the point… next time hold on for less time. Then less …and less. Remember we talked about increasing the stress over time? That’s the idea behind any exercise…strength training AND cardio! Change creates new stress, that creates more adaptations (gains!). Another way we cheat ourselves is by elevating the incline and leaning back at arms length while walking ‘uphill’. But you’re actually at the same intensity as you would be while walking on level ground! You’re perpendicular to the treadmill belt, as you would be on level ground.

The goal is to challenge yourself a better way, the right way! That way your body is forced to adapt and make changes. When that amount of intensity causes a plateau in results, make another change and reach a higher level of intensity (either speed, or time spent and less time trying to make it easier). Even if you can only exercise for 5 minutes doing it right, stick with that until you can do it for more than you did the day before. That’s the concept behind exercise! The truth is that if you did it right, you could spend less time and be more effective in maximizing your workouts. Remember, YOU’RE ONLY CHEATING YOURSELF!