How to get through cardio

Today was my last cardio and weight session before the competition on Saturday (my body is giving a huge sigh of relief because it is pretty much cooked at this point). But even though I knew it was my last session it was still hard. I have mentioned before that I don’t like cardio, like I really don’t like it. I don’t hate it, but a typical cardio session for me consists of counting down the minutes until it’s over and trying desperately to distract myself from the misery (that kind of sounds like I hate it, lol). So 60 minutes of slow speed on a stair master is kind of like torture to me, but I do it anyways because it is necessary to lean out for the competition. I am still doing less cardio than a lot of competitors do (like 2 hours per day) thankfully and letting my diet and muscle mass burn the calories for me. To get through a full 60 minutes I have to play mind games with myself and trick myself into not getting off the machine. Maybe some of these mind games will help a few of you or maybe you can add to the list, so here are a few of my techniques for surviving long cardio sessions:

Watch an interesting TV show

I have a weird fascination with watching the food network while I do cardio. I’m pretty sure that’s not even kind of normal and should make me crave the food like crazy, but it doesn’t. I just love getting ideas for food for after the competition. Even when I’m not in competition training these were my go to shows during cardio. I think on some level I feel like I can earn those foods through cardio and that gives me motivation, even though I don’t end up eating those foods. I’m just crazy. But find a show that you like and you will be more inclined to stay on the machine at least until the show is over 🙂

Break the session into smaller pieces

You know how when you have a big goal (like losing 20 pounds) you have to break it up into smaller goals (like losing 2 pounds per week, and eating a certain number of cals per day)? Well you can do the same with cardio. For the stair master I break it into 1 minute, 5 minute AND 10 minute goals… because I’m that crazy. Each minute is a mini achievement and I will change what I’m doing on the minutes.

My stair master workout

The first 3 minutes are every step, then 2 minutes of every other step which gets me to 5 minutes… yay! Then the second round of 5 minutes is 2 minutes every step forward, 1 minutes side step to the right, 1 minute forward, 1 minute side step to the left. Congratulations, you have reached 10 minutes! Now repeat that 6 times!

By doing this I can feel like I’m making progress instead of thinking OMG I have 55 minutes left, I think, “5 minutes and I’m done my first round”.

Take breaks

This kind of goes hand in hand with breaking it into smaller pieces, but I will usually take a break (full stop on the stair master or elliptical, and slow walk on the treadmill) at the end of each  “round”. I try to keep any breaks under 1 minute and closer to 30 seconds so I don’t bring my heart rate down too much, but take as long as you need to feel like you can get back at it. This helps with the timing too, in my head I’m thinking “I can last 4 minutes until I rest no problem” even on my last round it’s not an issue, but if I’m thinking, “I have 40 minutes until I can breathe again” I might just give up.

Do it first

This is a new one for me because I have always been told to do cardio AFTER weights because then you can give the weights your all and not be overly tired. Weights, however, have never been an issue for me. I don’t drag myself through a weight routine because I like it (for the most part) and even when they are super hard, they have natural breaks built into them and already have mini-goals and everything, so no problems there. But if I am already tired from weights, cardio might just get knocked off the list. That also might happen if I am running short on time. So if cardio is a priority, do it first when you have the energy and the time. That way you know you will get it done and it is out of the way!

So those are my tricks… what are yours?

FYI – these tricks can basically be applied to anything you don’t really like in life.

Now for a quick update – I feel way better today. Much more peppy. Possibly because I can rest and eat more carbs tomorrow and I KNOW that will make my body feel better. Possibly also because the show is on Saturday and I revamped my costume a little, which I am so proud of myself for making. I can’t wait to share the pictures with you guys! I am apparently in a “listing things” kind of mood so here is a list of things I’m happy/excited about and things I’m worried about:

Happy/excited list

  • Getting spray tanned and makeup done professionally so I will look rocking on stage
  • Wearing my self-made costume and fun bikini
  • Showing off weeks months of hard work
  • Drinking wine and eating chocolate before the show
  • Hearing my boyfriend/friends/family in the audience
  • Meeting all the other competitors
  • Finding out how I compare to all the other people’s hard work

Worry list

  • Falling on my face on stage because of the ridiculous heels
  • Falling on my face on stage because of a muscle cramp due to dehydration
  • Falling on my face on stage because I pass out from nerves (noticing a trend?)
  • Getting my carb up wrong and looking either too hard and muscle OR to watery and soft on stage
  • Messing up my tan/makeup and hair (which I am doing myself)
  • Getting too nervous and having my poses and walk look weird because of it
  • Finding out how I compare to all the other people’s hard work (yes this is on both lists)

Glad to see the lists are about even, and the worry list is actually shorter since the first three are about the same.

Thanks for everyone’s support!


10 thoughts on “How to get through cardio

    • Thanks, in general I do, but leading up to the competition the cardio is at such a slow pace that you aren’t burning muscle off. Good reminder for everyone though. You definitely don’t want to undermine your effort in the weight room with too much cardio at the wrong time! Maybe I’ll do a post of exercise timing. 🙂

  1. Pingback: Choosing happiness | On The Go Fitness

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