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The 30-Minute Cardio Workout

Running Workouts
Running, which is perhaps the "purest" of all cardiovascular activities, (since it doesn't really require any equipment), is one of those "love" or "hate" activities. Why? Many people assume that when they go for a run, they have to push, push, push. Others try for half an hour when they're not fit enough to enjoy it. In fact, you may have learned the hard way that a 30-minute run can be a real challenge. In fact, if you can run for 30 minutes, you can count yourself among the proud minority – most people can't do half of that. Furthermore, if you can keep putting one foot in front of the other for half an hour, you might want to start thinking about trying your hand (or foot?) at a 5K (3.1-mile) race. Races are a great way to push yourself as well as get a taste of what your running community has to offer. You might find that while you don't "love" training, you really enjoy racing.

Here's an idea for a workout you can do in that time frame that will help you to become fitter and faster.

Most people who jog regularly tend to go out at the same pace most of the time. Furthermore, most of them hold that pace for the duration of their workout. This is fine if you're entirely happy with your performance, but it's not a great way to make improvements. If you fit into the "I'm doing okay, but I'd love to step it up a little" category, we have a suggestion for you.

Rather than simply going out for the same old run, try incorporating intervals into your workout. By picking up the pace for short periods throughout your run – say from one telephone pole to the next, or clock a minute or two on your watch – you help your body become acclimated to the increased stress. Eventually what was a hard interval becomes your cruising pace. When that happens, voilà! You're getting fitter. Want a bit more structure to your running workout? Try this treadmill workout for a little extra oomph in your run:

  1. Warm up with an easy five-minute jog.
  2. Pick up the pace to a comfortable cruising pace for four minutes. The pace should be fast enough to get your heart rate to about 70 percent of your max.
  3. Maintaining the same speed, add a 3 percent to 4 percent elevation or 0.5 miles per hour on the treadmill for one minute.
  4. Repeat steps two and three, three more times.
  5. Cool down with another easy five-minute jog.
Don't fret if you're running outdoors, and don't have a treadmill to keep track of things for you. If you're out on the road, try a fartlek workout. Here are a few examples:
  • Every five minutes, sprint from one light pole to the next.
  • If you're running on city streets, do a fast interval from one streetlight to the next every three minutes.
  • A great way to gain strength if you're on hilly terrain is to take it easy on the flats and downhills and attack the inclines.
In other words, be creative with your workouts. When you're feeling good, let it rip. Challenge yourself a lot or just a bit; either way you'll find that adding a bit of intensity to your run will break up the monotony.

If you're not up for running, walking is a viable option. Use the same format as above – blocks of four moderate minutes and one hard minute – but substitute an incline on the treadmill in place of the faster run. Take long, forceful strides and pump your arms as you climb the hill. It'll still be a good cardio workout, yet you'll spare your body all the pounding and orthopedic stress of running.

Progress from Power Walking to Running
If you aspire to jog or run, but aren't able to pick up the pace quite yet, interval training can still be a useful strategy. By alternating walking and running, you can gradually get your body used to the faster speeds. For instance, let's suppose that you can comfortably walk at a pace of three miles per hour, but a moderate 5.5-mile-per-hour jog is too much for you to sustain for more than a few minutes.

Here's a six-week interval program that can help you progress from power walking to running. During weeks two to five, repeat the walk/jog pattern four times. Do each workout on three non-consecutive days for a week.

Warm Up  Walk  Jog  Cool Down 
Week 1  5 minutes 20 minutes 5 minutes
Week 2  5 minutes 4 minutes 1 minute 5 minutes
Week 3  5 minutes 3 minutes 2 minutes 5 minutes
Week 4  5 minutes 2 minutes 3 minutes 5 minutes
Week 5  5 minutes 1 minute 4 minutes 5 minutes
Week 6  5 minutes 20 minutes 5 minutes

Next: Page 3 >>

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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