A few summers ago I did a lot of walking. I’d get up early in the morning and walk 45-60 minutes before work and when I got home, I’d do another 45-60 minutes. I developed this routine because I wanted to keep my heart rate elevated during my walks and in a certain range (more on that below), but with all the walking I was doing, I’d increased my pace to the point where if I wanted to increase my heart rate, I’d be jogging. But I didn’t want to do a steady jog either. So I started doing sprints during verses of songs and walking during choruses. I love doing my walks outside like that! During winter though, my lungs aren’t a fan of the cold air so I do my cardio at the gym. On the treadmill, I do things a little differently. You’ll see how (and why) below.
What I love most about this routine is that it keeps things interesting, challenging, and prevents boredom!
BTW friend, I only ever want to recommend products I ACTUALLY use in my personal life or business and have come to trust. Yes, some of these are affiliate links, which means I get a small kickback—but like I said, I wouldn’t ever tell you to use something I don’t use and love in my own life.
I’ve never been the kind of person that can run for miles on end and I’m super jealous of those who can because it’d be a pretty awesome accomplishment to say I’ve run a marathon! And while I could probably push my body to do that, I know I wouldn’t enjoy it- I don’t think my body is built for high cardio like that.
My goal is to burn fat and for a long time I believed I had to run to do that- but that’s not true. We just need to elevate our heart rate into a fat burn zone, which can easily be accomplished with a fast paced walk. So as long as my heart rate is in the low level of fat burn, I’m good, and for my fast walking, I try to keep it in that zone. The paces you see in the chart below are the paces that help keep me in my zone now, but when I first started out, they were a little lower. For instance starting out at 3.5 instead of 3.8 and for my sprints, I started out at 5.0 and maxed out at 6.0. With my endurance increasing I’ve increased the paces with it. So if you’re just starting out and feel more comfortable dropping the paces, start there!
That zone range depends on our age and I use this calculator to know mine. Once you calculate your max heart rate, use the percentages to calculate the ranges of each zone. So for mine, my current age is 30.
220 – 30 = 190
Peak range is 85%-100%, so 190 x .85 = 161.5 (round up to 162) and 100% of 190 is 190, so that range is 162-190.
Cardio range is 70%-84%, so 190 x .7 = 133. And since this range ends at 84% where peak begins at 85%, I’ll take it up to 161. So that range is 133 – 161.
Fat burn range is 50%-69%, so 190 x .5 = 95, up to where cardio range begins. So the fat burn range for me is 95 – 132. I aim to keep it at the higher end of that range, so when I’m checking my fitbit, I aim to keep it above 115 at a minimum, but in the goal range of 120-130. Make sense? Good! (If not, let me know in the comments below and I’m happy to clarify!)
I track my heart rate during my workout with a Fitbit Alta HR (like this one!)- I love that it has the heart rate monitor capabilities without being bulky! I’ve had it for almost 2 years and it serves its purpose so well for me so I don’t see a need to upgrade. Bonus! Fitbit automatically calculates your heart rate zones for you if your birthdate is in your profile, so your workout summary shows which zone you were in and for how long. How awesome is that?!
The fat burn zone is just that – the zone where you’re burning fat. Once you get above that zone, if the body needs more energy to sustain the worn your putting on it, it can actually start burning muscle. And I don’t know about you but my goal isn’t to lose muscle – it’s to burn the layer of fat surrounding it so I can see the muscle I’ve worked so hard for! Don’t let this scare you into never going above the fat burn zone. In my experience, that happens when I’m in cardio or peak zone for extended periods of time – another reason for my short sprints.
In my experience (and I’ve been trying to figure out what works for me for over 10 years), my body benefits most from workouts ranging from 30-60 minutes. It takes about 30 minutes for my body to get really warmed up and get into a flow state where I can really hit my stride, get in the zone, and push myself towards the next level. It feels like the work I’m putting in after 30 minutes is there work that’s really changing my body. On the flip side, more than 60 just starts to burn me out. Like I’ve reached my peak and now it’s only going to exhaust my body.
I’ve read that increasing the inline to 1% helps relieve pressure on your shins and helps prevent shin splints. I read that a long time ago, so I’ll have to do some research and update this post with the link. I definitely felt a difference in the pressure on my shins using a 1% incline vs 0%!Without it, I feel like I’m running slightly downhill and putting more pressure on my shins.
To help me become more comfortable in my pace and increase it, I started lengthening my stride. If my stride is shorter, I’m taking more steps in the same amount of time, and my breathing is quicker, increasing my heart rate. Even though my goal is an elevated heart rate, I want to keep it relatively steady over a period of time. I’ve found it much easier to maintain that by lengthening my stride.
This is how I know if I’m pushing myself too hard, too slow, or just right. For me, a comfortable breathing rhythm is in the 3-4 strides per breathe range. Wait- what the heck does that mean? So glad you asked darlin. How I link my breathe to my movement in any workout is really the make or break of being able to get through it with control. I always start with (& try to stay at) 4 strides per breath. That means I’m inhaling for 4 strides, then exhaling for 4 strides, and repeating. If you’ve never done this, here’s where to start: Count your steps up to 4 and then repeat. Right left right left = 1-2-3-4. Then start linking your breath to those counts, right along with your strides: inhale-2-3-4, exhale-2-3-4. BOOM! You’re a pro.
Incline at 1% the whole time.
The inspiration for this routine comes from years of trying out cardio machine routines. I’ve got a whole Pinterest board dedicated to them & still use them once in a while! Check those out here!
Let me know in the comments below what you found most helpful or which part was hardest! If you’re having a hard time getting started, what’s your biggest struggle? Let me know! I’m cheering you on like the rockstar you are!
Stay in touch! Be the first to get updates on offerings, plus get weekly tips on styling (weddings, portrait, everyday life) & intentional living.