The Optimal Cardio Routine

Trying to get back into the gym after a long summer, vacation, holiday or break from the gym all-together can be a daunting task. The average person will hop on a treadmill, get bored after 5 minutes, winded after 10, and quit after 15. The only things you end up with are sore joints, frustration, and an ongoing hate for anything related to cardio.

The importance and benefits of doing cardio are clear and in our faces everyday, but unfortunately many people don’t know what constitutes as effective cardio. Gone is the day that you could run around town for a couple of miles and “be healthy” or look “fit”. Today’s “fit” man needs to be strong, fast, and athletic. An hour on the elliptical, a walk on a super inclined treadmill, or a 10-mile jog in your neighborhood will not help you attain these qualities. A successful cardio routine involves some key elements that are not in most programs.

Stick with these basics during your next cardio routine, follow these tips, and bring your fitness to new heights.


Know exactly what you are doing ahead of time. Aim for 2-3 sessions per week and workouts that progressively get harder. Being able to handle more is your first basic indicator that you’re progressing.


If you always end up skipping out on your cardio then do it when you first get to the gym or do it on off days. It’s not necessarily when you do it, just don’t skip it.

What’s In Your Hands?

If you have a magazine or book that you thought about catching up on while you worked out, throw it out. Nobody has ever gotten fit while reading and doing cardio. You can only focus on one thing at a time, make it your workout. Save the book for before bed.


Doing a dynamic warm-up will increase mobility, decrease your chance of injury, and prepare your bodies systems for the task at hand. Warm-ups are commonly overlooked, skip them and you’re bound to get hurt.

Avoid Steady State Cardio

Unless you’re training for a long-distance race, avoid staying at the same pace for an extended period of time at all cause. Varying degrees of intensity will increase your metabolism greater than steady work.


Incorporate them either into your normal run or as its own workout session. Sprints rev the metabolism and actually can assist will building muscle in the legs.

Mix In Exercises

Try mixing in bodyweight exercises in-between your run. This will break up a “boring session” and add a strength-building component to your workout.

Fight That Little Voice

Ignore that voice in your head that tells you to slow down, take a break, or just flat out quit. Fitness is a discipline, learn to embrace the work.

Cool Down

Bring your heart rate back down. This will improve your recovery process and progressively slow the body down after an intense session.

Keep Track

Keep a workout log of how much weight you lift? Keep track of how far you went and the tempo used to get there. Numbers don’t lie, documenting your progress will keep you in tune with what works, and with what doesn’t.