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The 30-Minute Cardio Workout

If you want to get fit, a 30-minute cardio workout is a great place to start. It's not so long as to become tedious or intimidating, yet it's long enough to help you meet a variety of goals. Just as we stressed with the 15-minute workout (or any other for that matter), the key is to use your time well. Just pedaling aimlessly on the bike for half an hour isn't going to get you in shape, compared to a focused half-hour where you're concentrating on the task at hand. For that reason, nothing drives us battier than seeing someone sitting on the recumbent bike perusing the financial page oblivious to the reason they're on the bike in the first place – to actually break a sweat and get a good workout. Don't get us wrong, we're all for multitasking – hey, we're native New Yorkers after all – but a little focus can go a long way in making the difference between a fruitful workout and a near waste of time.

Here's a bit of math wizardry that you may need time to ponder: As we move from 15- to 30-minute workouts, there's twice as much time to work with. The extra 15 minutes means we don't have to find workouts that force you to jump rope like a hummingbird or climb stairs as if you're running for the last train home. Instead we can now have you do more conventional modes of exercise. Even with a warm-up and cooldown, half an hour is plenty of time to burn calories and improve your health.

Throughout this chapter we'll explain what interval workouts are and throw in a few other ideas such as cross-training and mini-triathlons. We'll give you workouts that you can do both at the gym or out in the real world.

Incorporate Intervals into Your Workout
Whether you're a seasoned athlete or a relative newcomer to exercise, we're big advocates of interval training, which means you alternate easy and hard efforts within the same workout. We especially like the format for short workouts because it's an efficient way to maximize the limited time so that you get the most out of it.

Steve Ilg, author of The Winter Athlete and a nationally known fitness trainer, said that the difference between serious and recreational athletes can be summarized in one word: intervals. To a certain extent he's correct. You should know, however, that intervals hurt. And the more you do, the more the discomfort. However, we believe that done properly (and in moderation), intervals will help you get the most fitness benefits from your workout. In essence, a 30-minute workout with intervals versus one without is, in fitness terms, nearly night and day. (Or at least night and twilight.)

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Short Workouts © 2001 by Deidre Johnson-Cane, Jonathan Cane, and Joe Glickman. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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