30 Day Cardio Challenge Workouts for Women that Work
We all know cardio is something we need to do, however it can be a challenge to get in those 150 minutes of moderate activity every week, especially if you’re busy, are revolted by sweat or flat-out hate cardio. But the fact of the matter is, it’s good for us and our bodies need this kind of movement. So grab your tunes and earbuds and let’s see what you’re made of.
If your leisurely nightly walks aren’t doing the trick and you’re ready to bump up the intensity and see the results you’ve been striving for, here are six different cardio exercises that are unique and perfect for women. They target various parts of the body and are quick and simple to learn and perform. Read each one carefully as it goes into detail about how this is going to be beneficial to you, as well as how to perform the exercise properly without causing injury. These are the exercises that will be included in your 30 day cardio challenge.
If you played sports as a kid, you are already very familiar with this exercise. If not, think of it like this, imagine running across something super hot that you want to get across as fast as possible, except you’ll be staying in place. This exercise will increase your heart rate while working your fast-twitch muscles.
To perform this exercise properly, stand in one place and begin “running,” keeping your steps small. You don’t need to lift your knees high, as that will slow down your pace. Move your arms as you would if you were actually running – keeping them at a 90-degree angle as they swing back and forth. Keep your eyes focused in front of you to prevent your head from looking down and your chest from leaning forward.
This exercise is really going to get you moving. High knees utilize the arms and legs as its bigger motions allow your body space for greater movements.
To perform this exercise properly, stand in one place and bring one of your knees up toward your chest at no less than a 90-degree angle. Without letting both feet touch the ground at the same time, switch legs so the other knee is up. Let your arms assist you as they swing naturally as if you were running — the opposite arm should come up in tandem with each leg. You want the time between each switching of legs to be quick, as this will increase your heart rate more.
Squats are not only good for giving you a round, toned booty – they are also great for combining a strength building exercise and an endurance exercise. Although squats may seem more like a strength exercise than a cardio movement, performing high reps of the exercise will make you think again. Squats use the big muscles of the lower legs including the glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves — not to mention the fact that they also engage the core, back and shoulders. What does that mean to you? Simply that all of those muscles working in unison requires a pretty substantial amount of oxygen, which your heart has to pump hard to deliver. So, ya, squats can definitely be considered a useful tool for a cardio challenge.
To perform this exercise properly, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with your hands stretched out in front of you. Hinge at the hips and bend your knees forming a 90-degree angle, while keeping your heels on the ground and your eyes facing forward. Return to the starting position. In order to do this exercise in a way that is considered cardio, you want to do these squats at a quicker pace than you may normally do. For an even greater cardio burst, turn squats into squat jumps, your butt will love you for it. You can also try our 30-Day Squat Challenge!
Don’t be scared, you’re not in a race against anyone. But sprinting is a great way to challenge your heart rate, burn fat fast, engage your glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves and core all while conserving muscle. It is best to perform sprints on a treadmill or outdoors, somewhere you have space to actually move, but if you are stuck inside, no worries. Just sprint in place.
To perform this exercise properly in the 30 day cardio workout, explode off your imaginary starting block and give it about 80% of your all-out effort and ability. You only want to give 80% instead of 100% because you will be doing more than just one. Remember to keep your weight on the balls of your feet, rather than your heels. Allow your arms to swing in rhythm with your body to help increase your speed. Make sure to keep your core muscles contracted and your eyes focused in front of you to avoid leaning back and causing any type of injury.
Finally, it’s time to show your upper body some cardio challenge love! You won’t be hitting anyone or anything, but shadow boxing is a great way to get your cardio in while working your arms, shoulders, chest, back and core. There are many types of boxing moves out there, but for this exercise, you will just be doing the basic power punch.
To perform this exercise properly, bend your knees slightly, hold your hands in fists, and bring your arms up close in front of your face. Choose one arm and punch straight out in front of you, allowing your torso to move with you. Switch arms and continue punching back and forth with quick and clean jabs. Avoid fully extending and locking out your elbows as you punch. Maintain a slight bend in your elbow with each strike to prevent putting excess stress or straining the elbow joint.
Yes, the dreaded word. But it is important to run if your goal is to increase your endurance and running base through cardio. If you cannot run because of a specific health reason, you may walk instead. Before you skip over this section, here us out. Running is hard but everyone can do it, at least for a few minutes. It does take time and persistence to get into running shape, but once you’re there, you’ll wonder why you never tried before.
To perform this exercise properly, remember to keep your weight on the balls of your feet when you are running, rather than your heels. Use your arms – they are your friend when it comes to running. Keep your breathing in a steady routine and stay relaxed — yes, this can be hard to do as you’re gasping for air, but with practice it will come. This will allow you to continue for longer periods of time without becoming out of breath. For more running tips, check out our beginner’s guide to running or the hater’s guide — you never know, we might convert you from a hater to a lover during this 30 day cardio challenge.
Just a little something to mix up your cardio routine:
About Training Your Endurance and Establishing a Perfect Running Base
Training and increasing your endurance takes time but it’s definitely possible with the right type of workout. If you are trying to establish a perfect running base, there are three main things you need to include in your workouts: strength training, endurance training, and speed training. It may sound like an odd combination, but as we dig deeper into what each one does for the body, you will understand how your endurance is going to increase by following these guidelines.
Strength training is a magic worker. No matter what your fitness goal is, most likely strength training is going to be a part of it in one way or another. Being able to run long distances not only requires endurance, but strength as well. You don’t want your legs giving out in the middle of a run or your arms becoming noodles. The stronger those muscles are, the longer they are going to be able to work for you while you are doing cardio exercises. Simple workouts such as squats and shoulder raises target those muscles used while running. Giving them more strength will result in them having more power to last longer. If you feel your body giving out on you, it is time to bump up your strength training and see the benefits it has on your running base.
Incorporating strength training into your 30 day cardio workout will also go a long way in helping you to stave off injury. Studies have shown that by strengthening lower extremity muscles, particularly in the hips, loading of the lower body joints were changed in a positive fashion, leading to reduced risk of injury. Stronger muscles can also help keep your knee and ankle joints aligned to prevent common running injuries such as runner’s knee and iliotibial-band syndrome.
This one probably sounds like the most obvious to you. If you want to increase your endurance you should probably do some training around that. But let’s talk about what that looks like realistically. First, you should not go from months of binge watching Netflix in a sedentary position to getting up and trying to run two miles. First, you could injure yourself. And secondly, you most likely will not accomplish your goal which may discourage you from trying again. In order to get the most out of endurance training you want to start slow and easy and increase duration over time.
If you’re starting from a place of inactivity, you will want to being with a walk/jog. Do this for about 15 minutes for the first couple of days. As your endurance begins to grow, you will find yourself running more than walking and finally reaching that two miles. Now, if you are already a fairly active person, start with a mile. Still take it slow and easy, but once you’ve got that you can start building on your distance, as well as playing around with your speed. Increasing and decreasing your speed throughout your run is a great way to strengthen your heart and endurance. An endurance run or two a week will be enough to help you smash this cardio challenge.
So now that you know about strength training and endurance training, let’s focus on speed training and what it does for the body that is so beneficial when building a cardio base. Speed training consists of workouts such as sprints, running hills or stairs, suicides, and more.
The benefit of these types of exercises in our 30 day cardio workout is they are hard on your lungs and heart, in a good way of course. They get the heart rate up, fast! They also work your fast-twitch muscles – and the strength of these muscles is going to come in handy when you want to end your long race with a sprint. On top of all of this, speed training is going to help your endurance by the way it will speed up your recovery time, which is the time needed after an exercise to let your heart rate slow so you can begin again.
Though it is not endurance training specifically, speed training does have many components that are beneficial when you are trying to perfect your running base.
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