wikiHow to Add Cardio to Your Workout

Three Methods:Cardio Workout PreparationCardio Workout ClassesAdding Cardio Exercises

Cardiovascular, or aerobic, exercise, is motion that increases your heart rate and breathing rate. Doctors suggest between 150 and 175 minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise per week, or 75 minutes of intense cardiovascular exercise, such as running. You should always increase your cardio workouts in small increments, so that your body can adjust and muscles can stay healthy. However, there are many ways to add cardio exercises to your existing workout, in order to boost your metabolism. First, prepare for your new cardio exercise, try new workouts and/or add a few new fat-burning exercises to your existing program. This article will tell you how to add cardio to your workout.

Method 1
Cardio Workout Preparation

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    Consult your doctor if you suffer from any chronic problems, such as joint or back pain, diabetes, heart disease or obesity. There may be certain workouts that you should adjust or avoid, so that you do not aggravate your condition. The doctor may suggest beginning training sessions with a physical therapist, if you are new to working out with your condition.
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    Figure out your target moderate heart rate. Take the number 220 and subtract your age. Multiply that number by 70 percent, or 0.70, and you will have your target heart rate.
    • For example, calculate your target heart rate if you are 35. 220 minus 35 is 185. 70 percent of 185 is 129.50 beats per minute. If you are engaging in intense exercise, and you have been training consistently at high levels, you can calculate 80 to 90 percent of your heart rate as your target rate. For a 35 year old, this would be 148 to 166.50 beats per minute. Older people should always aim for a moderate target heart rate.
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    Buy a heart rate monitor to wear on your wrist while you do your new workouts. You can see if you are hitting your target heart rate while you try new exercises.
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    Buy flexible clothing and athletic shoes with cushions and arch supports. Many people make the mistake of working out without proper foot support. As you lift weight or your own body weight, you can put the pressure of 7 to 10 times your body weight on your feet, which can lead to injury if you do not have proper support.

Method 2
Cardio Workout Classes

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    Studies have shown that working out with a group of people can help you to increase the intensity of your cardio workout. Replace 1 day of your normal walking, whether it be walking, running, cycling, elliptical training, rowing or another exercise with a cardio workout that is meant to stimulate the metabolism. Add 1 of the following workouts into your exercise routine:
    • Take a spinning class. Go to a local gym or community center that has a class filled with spinning bikes. The instructor will lead you through a healthy cardio workout. It should start with a slow warm up, start intervals where you cycle normally and then sprint and then you should cool down. Most spinning classes take 30 to 60 minutes, and are extremely good for jump-starting your metabolism and burning fat.
    • Do "flow" or "power" yoga at a local gym or yoga center. These types of yoga focus more on fat-burning than the meditative aspects of yoga practice. The beginning of the workout allows you to learn a sequence of moves that work muscles in the arms, back, shoulders, abdominals and legs. Then, you begin to do the moves 3 to 5 times in succession. Flow/Power yoga is also useful as strength training, and it may require water and a towel because of increased perspiration.
    • Sign up for a boot camp. These classes are offered by gyms, lifelong learning centers and independent trainers. They are based on the military boot camp model, which features intense interval training. These classes are great for weight loss, because they include running, jumping, push-ups, sit-ups, squats and more. Some boot camp courses take place over a period of a month to 6 weeks, 1 to 3 times per week.
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    • Do water aerobics or water jogging. These classes are usually 45 to 60 minutes long. They entail workout out with a water belt and water weights, and they are great for anyone suffering from obesity or joint pain. You will begin by jumping or walking in the water, using the resistance to increase the difficulty of the moves. Then, foam weights are added to increase the resistance and work your arms and abs. Ease into this type of exercise, as it can feel easy but result in sore muscles if you overdo it.

Method 3
Adding Cardio Exercises

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    Keep your own schedule of cardiovascular exercise, if you are already exercising for 30 minutes 3 to 4 times per week. Add some interval exercises at the beginning, middle or end of your exercise routine to increase your heart rate and burn extra calories.
    • If you are just beginning a cardiovascular exercise routine, begin by doing fast walking, water aerobics or cycling. Start with 15 minutes and increase your time by 5 to 10 minutes each week. After 2 weeks, add 1 extra cardio interval during each workout, to increase your endurance, metabolism and the effectiveness of your workouts.
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    Add interval training to your workouts. Interval training is an excellent cardio exercise because it allows you to mix moderate aerobic exercise with intense aerobic exercise. Use 1 of the following interval training tactics to increase your speed, calorie burning ability or endurance.
    • To work your heart harder, start your cardiovascular exercise of choice. Spend 15 minutes warming up and working toward 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. Increase your speed for 3 minutes, until you are at 90 to 95 percent of your heart rate. Go back to your original speed for 3 minutes of rest. Repeat the 3 minute spring/3 minute rest intervals 3 to 4 times, before slowing down considerably for a 10 minute period.
    • To tone your legs, hips and glutes, do sprinting intervals. Start running, cycling or using the elliptical. Warm up for 15 minutes, until you reach 70 percent of your ideal heart rate. Sprint as fast as you can for 30 seconds. Return to your original speed for 3 minutes. Repeat the 30 second/ 3 minute intervals 5 to 6 times, before doing a 10 minute cool-down period.
    • For a quick, but effective cardio workout, do a spring pyramid. Start running, biking, rowing or using the elliptical for 15 minutes. Sprint for 30 seconds, and recover for 30 seconds. Sprint for 1 minute and recover for 1 minute. Sprint for 2 minutes and recover for 2 minutes. Sprint for 4 minutes and recover for 4 minutes. Now begin to reduce with the same intervals, 2 minutes sprint and rest, 1 minutes sprint then rest and 30 seconds sprint and rest. Cool down for 10 minutes.
    • If you have arthritis or other joint problems, do swimming sprint intervals. Follow any of these interval programs with timing. You can also swim for 2 laps or 100m (328 feet), rest for 30 seconds and repeat 3 to 5 times. The conventional size of a lap length is 50m (164 feet.) Increase the amount of intervals you do every time you swim.
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    Add a cardio burst to your workout by walking or running up stairs. Aim to hike up 6 to 20 floors before or after your workout. Stair walking is excellent aerobic exercise because you are carrying increased body weight vertically while you walk forward up the stairs. Do 2 more flights of stairs each time you workout to train your heart and lungs.
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    Jump rope for 3 to 5 minutes before or after your workout. Start by gently hopping with both feet. Try to hop from 1 foot (0.3 m) to the other, as if you are jogging in place. Later, try to do hopping with high knees as you jump rope. You can also use jump roping as a great interval workout, instead of sprinting. You can march or jog during the resting periods.
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    Add small weights to your workout. Many cardio exercises simply workout your legs. Add 1 to 5 lb. (0.5 to 2.5 kg) hand or wrist weights. Pump your arms, sway them back and forth in exaggerated motions or do press ups or bicep curls while on an elliptical, cycling or treadmill machine. You can also get a weighted bar and hold it over your head for intervals of 1 to 3 minutes, in order to increase the intensity of the workout and work your arms, obliques, back and abdominal muscles. Make sure you have good balance before trying this.


  • Make sure to breathe deeply during moderate and intense cardio exercises. Holding your breath will keep your body from getting the oxygen it needs, and it can unsafely increase your blood pressure.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after a cardiovascular workout. You should at least consume 20 oz. (0.6 l) of water after your workout, but try to bring a water bottle with you, so that you can drink whenever you feel thirsty.
  • Pay close attention to what your body tells you. Take breaks when your body "says to". Slow down if you feel a deep pain that may cause a lasting injury.

Things You'll Need

  • Doctor/Physical therapist
  • Athletic shoes
  • Water
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Small weights
  • Pool, spinning, yoga or boot camp classes
  • Bike, treadmill, rowing or elliptical machine
  • Pool

Article Info

Categories: Cardio Exercises