No one understands how boring cardio can be more than us, at NK Fitness, Ascot’s experienced personal trainers.  Non of us compete in endurance sports any longer.  However, going for a run or bike ride can be the perfect tonic for many.  The journey to and from work often provides an opportunity to get the miles in for our clients, who can be seen trucking over Chobham Common or through the streets and trails of Ascot.  However, different people enjoy different activities and we are not all cut out to be endurance athletes.  Here we look at how design sessions using other modes but still giving your heart the attention that it needs


The importance of endurance exercise

It’s all well and good looking like a Greek god in your holiday snaps.  In fact most of us will never look like a Greek god, but we may look lean and toned.  This is a nice feeling, looking good and feeling strong.  But of all the muscles, our most important one sits inside our chest – the heart!  It is working constantly, and doesn’t stop from the moment we are in the womb to the moment we pass away.  It keeps every single one of us alive.  So whilst it doesn’t get you many instagram likes and a photo of it won’t sit on your desk at work, making sure your heart muscle is in good shape is vital.  For all of us.

Heart disease is the number one killer in western society.  An un-exercised heart is a weak heart that is more susceptable to heart failure.  Combined with diet, exercise is one way to offset the negative impact of aging on the heart, and in turn reduce the liklihood of heart disease.  An exercised heart grows like our other muscles do and is therefore less susceptible to failure.


What does exercise for the heart look like?

This is where the importance of endurance exercise comes in.  For the puprose of this blog we will consider endurance exercise as anything that gets the heart rate elevated for a prolonged period of time.  For some this might be a 4 hour cycle around the Surrey Hills, whereas for others its a 10 minute walk around the block.  Ascot’s experienced personal trainers  suggest any activity that uses a large enough muscle mass to make the heart work continuously is suitable for cardio exercise.  So what does a cardio session look like if it doesn’t involve running, cycling, swimming etc?  Here are the must do’s:

  1.  Select movement that uses lots of muscle.  This doesn’t have to be the same muscles throughout, so circuit training can also work.  choosing movements that use bigger muscles such as the glutes (muscles of your bum), quadriceps (thighs) and lats (back) should ensure that you achieve this easily.  Big muscle  require lots of blood when they exercise so this means the heart has to work hard to keep them supplied with the blood that they need.
  2. Spend more time moving than you do resting.  As a general rule of thumb you want to be working for at least twice as long as your resting.  If you are performing a circuit then make sure your work blocks last 30-90s and that you keep rest between movements to a minimum (15-30s).
  3. Accumulate at least 20 minutes during the day.  Ideally you would be able to do this in one session but there’s nothing wrong with breaking it up into two 10 minute bouts.  Don’t include any warm up or cool down as part of your 20 minutes.


That’s a wrap

In a nutshell, anything goes when it comes to exercising your heart.  Gone are the days when it was thought to be long slow runs or hours and hours on a push bike.  Don’t get us wrong, traditional cardio exercise is still highly valid.  Some of the fittest athletes in the world perform lots of it.  However, it’s just not everyone’s cup of tea, so we hope this article helps you to get more cardio in your life.  As Ascot’s expereienced personal trainers we say how you do it is purely limited by your own creativity.