Welcome back, readers!
By now, you’ve learned the first two ingredients in my secret recipe for six pack abs, proper nutrition and strength training. Both are extremely important to achieving a strong, defined core. But those are only half of the recipe! Time for the second half…can you guess what the third ingredient might be?
The third ingredient in my recipe for six pack abs is: CARDIO!
(Did you guess right?)
For some of you, this is great news. There’s nothing you love more than a sweaty HIIT sesh or long run outside. For others of you, this is the part where you’re like, “ya, girl, I’m out.”
Regardless of which camp you fall in, the fact of the matter is that cardiovascular training is an important component of improving your fitness and health, not just defining your six-pack.
And the good news for all y’all cardio-haters is that there are endless ways to train your cardiorespiratory system effectively, so if running isn’t your thing, you have lots of other options.
Before we get into a list of my favorite cardio methods, let’s talk about why cardio is important to defining your core. Remember a couple weeks ago when we talked about nutrition and its importance in eliminating belly fat to unveil the strong core you’ve built underneath? Well cardio works hand in hand with proper nutrition to decrease your total body fat (including the fat around your abdomen).
It is more efficient for your body to burn fat during aerobic activity because it burns longer and slower than carbohydrates, which are the body’s preferred fuel source for anaerobic activity. That doesn’t mean you should knock anaerobic activity for eliminating fat, though!
It’s best to mix low-intensity steady state training with high-intensity interval training (HIIT), a couple times a week. I’m not talking about parking your booty on a treadmill for sixty minutes three times a week and calling it quits. That won’t get you results. Below are my three favorite cardiovascular training methods that will help you work up a sweat and burn fat without boring you to tears!
Running on a treadmill bores the crap out of me, let me tell ya. And unfortunately, I am not one for long distances (props to you marathoners out there.) But I LOVE sprinting. Not only is it challenging, it is so fun. I love seeing how fast I can push myself against the clock. This anaerobic exercise is great cardiovascular training, but also functions as a great core strengthening activity. Give this interval scheme a try:
15 Minutes Total
0-4 minutes :30 seconds on, :30 seconds off (80% – 90%)
4-9 minutes :45 seconds on, :15 seconds off (75% – 80%)
10-15 minutes :10 seconds on, :50 seconds off (95% – 100%)
If you want aerobic exercise, but don’t want to stare at a wall or at a tv screen for an hour, go for a hike! Regardless of where you live, getting outside in nature and spending a solid hour or two moving your body at a steady pace is a great way to burn fat, relax, and reset. If you’re taking the hour to do steady state cardio anyways, why not find a nearby park instead of sitting inside the gym?
There are few exercises that get your heart rate pumping quite like jumping. Some of my favorite jumping exercises are jump rope, burpees, and box jumps. What I love about box jumps is you can pace them for longer intervals or you can sprint them in short bursts. Not only are they great for cardiovascular training, box jumps are an excellent total body exercise that strengthen both your core and legs (and not to mention your glutes!) Try adding them into your next HIIT or leg circuit.
There are far more options for cardiovascular training than I care to list in this blog, but the point remains: cardio is a crucial training element in improving your health AND defining your core. Find something you love, be it swimming, climbing, cycling, walking, running, or whatever gets your heart pumping, and do it a couple times a week in varying intensities and durations.
It’s a pretty simple recipe, y’all. With proper nutrition, strength training, and cardiovascular activity, you CAN build a strong and defined core. But there’s still one more ingredient, and it truly is the most important one yet.
Gotta save the best for last! Stay tuned for next week’s blog with the final secret ingredient in my recipe for six pack abs!