Improve your cardio fitness

NEW LOOK called on our cardiovascular fitness expert, Gus Barton, to help with your fitness goals. Here he covers everything you need to know from mistakes to avoid, to how often to hit the road and how to maximise weight loss through running.


Why should we run?

The human body has been designed perfectly for us to run. It’s only in our relatively recent history that running has become an exercise as opposed to a way of life. Aside from the obvious physical benefits, there is also psychological benefits – ‘The Runners’ High!’

What’s the biggest mistakes beginners make? 

The most common mistake I see, in beginners and even in more experienced runners, is the lack of attention they pay to looking after their bodies after a run. Running puts a lot of impact through muscles and joints. This is a good thing, we want strong muscles and joints.

However a beginner will often decide to start running, spend 2 or 3 weeks gradually increasing their distances until they begin to feel aches and pains in their knees, ankles or hips, and then the running stops. I would always advise people to take 5-10 minutes off their run time, and use that time to stretch and foam roll, maintaining healthy muscles and joints.


What’s the best distance to run?

Short max effort sprints with equal or longer rest periods are scientifically proven to be the superior modality for fat loss. They are also proven to lower blood pressure and improve metabolism. However if they are done correctly you’ll absolutely hate every minute of it! Keep your training varied, use short intervals if your time limited or you really desire a hard session. Use longer runs if you’ve had a bad day or your body’s feeling a bit sore.

How often should I run?

There’s no definitive right answer to this, some people run once or twice a week, some top athletes are running twice a day! I would advise a beginner to start by aiming to run 2-3 times per week, supplemented with 1 or 2 varied resistance workouts. For more advanced runners I would advise 2-3 hard interval sessions and 2 longer slower runs.

Can I run and lift weights?

Absolutely, they supplement each other brilliantly. Lifting weights correctly will reduce the risks of injury and improve running technique and performance. A varied running program will significantly improve your ability to train harder in the weights room.

What muscles am I working when I run?

All of them! Running needs to be thought of as full body workout – maintaining a stable head position, how we best utilise our arm movements and keeping a neutral spine all need to be considered before we begin with our legs! Improving your core and glutes is always a great starting point for runners.

Are there negative effects of running long distance? 

No. Running gets a lot of bad press for causing injuries. I believe if you take care of your body and fuel it correctly, long distance running is great for you. If you’re calorie depleted and you don’t look after your muscles and joints, injuries will occur in most things you do.

 

How can I run to maximise fat loss? 

Try this simple interval session:

5 minutes of stretching
5 Minutes at 50% of your max

Then:
20 seconds max effort sprint
40 seconds complete rest
Repeat 6-10 times depending on fitness levels.

Finish with:
5 minutes of slow walking
10 minutes of stretching

Read the article here

By Gus Barton, Personal Trainer at The Dan Roberts Group

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