3 Things That Hinder Your Cardio Workouts

Heart running on a treadmillI’m really not trying to pick on people, I swear. Many of you show up at the gym and put forth the effort, and I sincerely applaud that, no doubt. The thing is, I’m a little perplexed by some. Maybe it’s that people learn by watching what other people do since they themselves are not sure what they should be doing. If I’m new to the gym and I see a skinny girl on the treadmill walking while reading a magazine, well then sign me up because it’s working for her. Plus, I won’t stand out if I do what others are doing. I know the type, I see you. Tentatively you pick out your cardio machine, confused by all the buttons and options it has; do I want fat-burning, or interval training, weight-loss or manual, you ask yourself? It can be daunting. And who wants to ask a personal trainer on the floor for advice because that would only draw more attention to you. So you punch in some numbers, push some buttons, open up your magazine and slowly you’re on your way, happy to fit in and praying you don’t fall off. (Just the other day a girl fell off the treadmill about four machines down from me. The horror. All I saw out of the corner of my eye was this fast-moving bundle rolling on the floor. She got right up though, red face and all, and got back on the treadmill. You go girl!)

Due to this reading and exercising thing that seems to be sweeping the gym nation, I’ve decided to create my own Do Not Do These Three Things While Working Out, It’s Not Helping You, Only Hindering You list. (I’m still working on the list name.)

1. The obvious one here is don’t read a magazine while working out. I know you enjoy catching up on Sandra Bullock and her sorry state of affairs but why not wait until after your workout to peruse through the shambles of Hollywood? To read you need to be walking at a slow and steady pace, with definitely no shot of running here. The thing is, you walk all day long so why in the world are you paying the gym a monthly fee to come and walk at a leisurely pace and read there? Put the magazine away and put on a set of earphones and listen to your favorite music that pumps you up! You can spend less time at the gym and actually get your heart rate up. (Which also means more calories burned.)

2. Ok, this one really confuses me. What is with the holding onto the top of the treadmill while walking fast or walking on an incline? One day I counted seven people out of ten, yes SEVEN, who were holding on while walking, and I think one dude was running, but it looked kinda odd so not certain what was really going on there. My question is, when the heck do we ever hold onto anything when walking or running outside the gym? I’ve never seen that. Interested by this phenomena, I decided to hold on while walking up a steep incline and ‘lo and behold I discovered the reason why so many do this. It’s easier, plain and simple. I’ve taken out using my upper body and most of my core and was only using my legs. Walking and jogging made easy, right there. The thing is, it’s not a natural movement. Think about it, when you’re walking from A to B, your arms and legs are moving in a harmonious fashion, working with each other to get you safely there and back. Why would you eliminate using half of your body? It doesn’t make sense to me, so quit it, you’re cheating. Let go and involve your upper body and core so at the very least you can burn more calories.

3. I’ve covered this one before but it’s worth repeating. Don’t just walk the whole time. To get more out of your workout and to pump up your heart rate, throw in a little jog here and there. It could be one minute or it could be 10 seconds, whatever you’re comfortable with. You can do anything for 10 seconds and this can help propel your workouts to the next level. C’mon, give it a shot. The more you do it, the easier it gets, I promise that. And, you’ll end up burning more calories! (Are you seeing a trend here? Maybe this could be the How To Burn More Calories list.)

So there you have it, my little list of things I see at the gym that don’t necessarily bother me, but make me feel like you’re cheating yourself out of a better workout.

Anne Marie Costanzo is a nationally certified personal trainer and owner of Little Black Dress Personal Training. She can be reached at am@littleblackdresspt.com or (914) 841-1121.

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About the Author: Anne Marie Constanzo