I hate cardio. Let me just put that out there for those reading this. I’ll legitimately go out of my way just to skip out on cardio. “Want to go for a run James?” Hell no I don’t! That being said, I do believe that every weight lifting routine should incorporate at least some kind of cardio just to maintain cardiovascular health. Now, with that being said, I used to never do cardio, and I can also tell you that it’s not completely necessary to build a great physique. Take me for example, lifting 5 days a week with no cardio whatsoever:
Not bad, but that doesn’t exactly mean I was “healthy.” Remember, cardio IS important. Don’t skip out on it just because it sucks. But that’s what I’m going to teach you here: how to not hate cardio.
Step #1 – Embrace It
The first step is getting the right mindset. If you’ve been lifting weights for a while, you know the rush of endorphins that comes from it. Endorphins are a product of what is known as “runner’s high,” and is known as the “feel good hormone.” We get this reward post-run or post-workout. Sure, it absolutely sucks going for a run, gasping for air half the time, but the feeling afterwards is nothing short of amazing. Just remember that feeling, and imagine how great you’ll feel after you’ve gone for that run or morning jog. Keep that in mind.
Step #2 – Do Forms of Cardio You Actually Enjoy
If you absolutely hate running more than anything in the world, here’s my advice for you: don’t do it. However, DO find some form of cardio that you actually enjoy. Some of my favorites include cycling, kayaking, jump-rope, sprints, and swimming. My all time favorite is walking though… it’s low impact, easy to get in, and you can listen to podcasts while doing so. Sports are another fantastic form of cardio, especially the cardio that comes from running up and down the basketball court, playing tennis, or running around bases in baseball. Heck, even mowing the lawn counts as cardio, or raking the leaves among other forms of yard work.
Quick tip: Wear an activity tracker every day and track your daily steps. You see, the majority of our calories burned during the day come from NEPA (non-exercise physical activity), not from weightlifting. If you’re walking 30,000 steps a day, you’re burning some serious calories and creating one heck of a calorie deficit.
Step #3 – The Buddy System
Go find a friend to do cardio with, run with your dog or pet hamster, find anyone or anything to do it with… just find someone. For one, doing cardio with a friend works wonders for staying motivated, and you’ll be sure to hold each other accountable on the days you don’t “feel like it.” Set certain days during the week to meet up with your “buddy,” and motivate each other. Cardio with a friend makes it not so dreadful, and dare I say even downright enjoyable.
Step #4 – Listen to the Right Music
Weird tip, I know, but listening to the right kind of music can put you in the right mood to do the one thing you hate the most: cardio. It can pump you up and put you in a good mood, and research has shown some amazing things that cardio can do for us, such as:
- Help your sprint times
- Stimulate the nervous system
- Make exercise feel easier
- Keep pace while doing cardio
- Increase adrenaline
If those aren’t awesome enough reasons to listen to music while doing cardio, I don’t know what is.
Step #5 – Perspective
This is probably the most important tip I can give you. Put things in perspective… don’t see cardio as the weightlifting ugly cousin, see it as something beautiful and amazing. Going back to step #1… embrace it. It’s all in how you see it… keep it in your mind: cardio IS enjoyable.
Take Home Message
Just remember: you don’t have to do an excessive amount. Moderate amounts of cardio each week improves health, but too much actually impair it (research below). I’d say if you’re just getting into it, just go for a few walks each week, or do 30 minutes of running (or any other form of cardio you enjoy). Give these tips a shot, and you’ll find that you actually come to enjoy your cardio sessions. As always, stay strong.