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April 6, 2012 at 1:35 PMComments: 5 Faves: 2

Trainer Bounds' 20 Minute Cardio Workout

By Cornelius Bounds, CPT More Blogs by This Author

When preparing a workout regimen for my clients or myself, cardio is always at the beginning of the workout, second only to stretching. Often clients ask me, "Do I really NEED cardiovascular exercise?"

"Can't I just keep stretching? Go straight to the weights?"

Years back when I was playing sports I remember one of my coaches would always say "If you're not in shape, you risk injury!" He would talk about how when fatigue sets in, the first thing affected is the mind. A fatigued mind decreases focus, decreases coordination, impairs motor skills and overall, increases your risk of injury.

So why can't you just keep stretching or skip to the weights?

Cardiovascular exercise is essential for the functioning of the entire body!

Interval training improves aerobic and respiratory capacity of the body by providing proper blood flow and oxygen levels to the target areas being exercised. Cardio energizes you and starting with a good cardiovascular exercise allows you to get the most out of your workout.

Trainer Bounds' 20 Minute Cardio Workout

While I'd love it if everyone did, unfortunately, not everyone has time for a 90 minute workout. So, for those with limited time, I keep it basic. On average, I prefer to give clients a 15-20 minute cardio workout. I never want to exhaust them before hitting the weights.

JUMP ROPE (approximately 3 minutes)

My cardio workout begins with jumping rope -100 turns without stopping, two sets of 50 is perfect. You can either alternate legs left, right, left, right, use both legs together at the same time or do a combination of both.

TREADMILL (approximately 17 minutes)

Next, is the treadmill. Before you start, go ahead and adjust the speed depending on how hard you want to work. For beginners:

  • Start with a walk. (10 minutes at 3.0 mph)
  • Up it to a power walk. (1 minute at 4.5 mph),
  • Slow it down and recover. (1 minute at 3.5mph)
  • Pep it up to a jog. (1 minute at 5.0 mph)
  • Slow it down and recover. (1 minute at 3.5mph)
  • Gradually increase to a comfortable run. (2 minutes at 5.5 mph)
  • Slow it down and recover. (1 minute at 3.5mph)

Changing your treadmill interval every other day is a great way to keep the workout fun, exciting, challenging and it keeps your body guessing.Remember, allow your body to adjust to the speed. By now, most clients are sweating and they are ready for the weights!


Don't have a treadmill? Go for a run outside and use your "biological odometer" (your internal desired rate of speed) to determine how fast or slow you want to run between recovery time. Continue to increase the speed at each interval and repeat this pattern for 10 to 20 minutes. Remember - make it challenging. You can't cheat anyone but yourself taking it easy!

Other interval cardio exercises include swimming, dancing, aerobics classes or cycling.

(For more ideas, please check out my blog "Cardio: 3 Low/No Cost Alternatives to the Treadmill"!)

The Benefits of Cardiovascular Exercise

There are more benefits to cardiovascular exercise than making you look great! Regular cardiovascular exercise can:
  • Improve circulation.
  • Increase blood oxygen.
  • Boost metabolism.
  • Strengthen the heart. (It can actually become greater in diameter and mass, pumping more efficiently.)
  • Strengthen muscles and joints.
  • Support Hormonal Balance.
  • Decrease Stress and Depression.
  • Reduce Your Chance of a Blood Clot, Stroke and Heart Disease.
  • Support Healthy Cholesterol Levels.
  • Lengthen Your Life.
Support your cardio efforts as much as possible by practicing healthy eating habits to keep your instrument in perfect key. Today's modern processed food diets are hard on the body and lack vital nutrients. A diet heavy in these foods greatly increases the risk for diabetes, cancer, heart attack and stroke in men, women and children. Attack the growing health burden in today's unhealthy society. Make a regular pattern of physical activity a part of life for you and your family!

-Cornelius Bounds, CPT


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  • You make it sound so easy! Getting started in a fitness routine is always the hardest part for me, but (usually) once I figure out something that works for me it starts to get fun :)

  • Cassie,
    The key is staying mentally focused. Mentally retain those things that motivate and inspire you. Most of all, keep it fun while challenging yourself.

  • Wow. I was running after my lifting sessions, but no I think I'll switch it up. Also I didn't know cardio boosted the metabolism.

  • Garchow,
    Keep doing, what you do... You don't have to switch it up. Everyone trains differently. Moderate or high intensity running is perfect following your workout. This will help rid of lactic acid. However a light to low cardio (jog) regimen is even better just before your workout and stretching. This will get the nervous system firing, improve focus, flexibility, and get the blood circulating allow sufficient oxygen throughout your workout...

  • Sweet deal! So go light cardio to get this loose and warmed up, than do my lifting. After do a more intense cardio?

    Another one of your blogs got me stretching more. Are there benefits to stretching multiple times in one day? I've been stretching when I wake up, on my breaks at work, before my workouts, and before bed.

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