With swimsuit season looming, gym-goers will be ramping up their cardio to shed fat and improve their body conditioning.

But fasted morning cardio spins on the stationary bike or hour-long incline walking sessions on the treadmill aren’t for everyone.

If you want to avoid the conventional gym cardio rut, find out how local actor and Dis-Chem ambassador MaxX Moticoe gets creative with his cardio to keep his routine interesting and condition his body.

READ MORE | 4 Ways To Keep Gym-Based Cardio Interesting

Break free from cardio monotony

After spending eight years in the gym, MaxX says the conventional process started to become a little monotonous.

I looked for an outdoor sport that would not only take me outside of the gym but would also take me out of my comfort zone. A friend suggested we enter the Warrior Race for some fun under the sun. Little did I know that would be the race that would change my life.”

Since then, MaxX has made outdoor exercise like obstacle course racing (OCR), mountain biking and trail running a key part of his active lifestyle, perfecting the art of maintaining his muscular leading actor physique and, most importantly, having buckets of fun while he does it!

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MaxX’s cardio routine

When MaxX is not filming on set or in the gym, you’ll likely find him on the trails or at the Ground Zero Obstacle Park preparing for his next OCR race. “The majority of my training now happens outside the gym. I usually run on the trails five times a week.”

MaxX mixes up the distance and intensity of his runs, using a combination of:

  • LSD (long slow distance)
  • Hill repeats
  • Speed work
  • Tempo runs

MaxX’s Saturday morning OCR workouts generally encompass an endurance class that simulates ‘race conditions’.

I enjoy those workouts, because I spend all week training and conditioning the body and every Saturday, we get to put it to the test.”

While a knee injury stopped MaxX from competing in mountain biking, he still rides socially and for recovery.

Any time spent on the bike is my favourite workout. Through the years, mountain biking has become a form of recovery and social workout with friends and fellow like-minded adventure enthusiasts. Instead of catching up at a restaurant or a bar, we catch up on a long ride around the Cradle.”

MaxX also added swimming to his routine recently in an attempt to improve his VO2max and breath control when running. “Little did I know just how beneficial swimming is, particularly as a great form of zero impact cardio.”

READ MORE | Crank Up Your Cardio With These High-Intensity Workouts

Take your cardio outdoors

MaxX believes more people can benefit from including more outdoor cardio in their routines from both a physical and a mental perspective.

Besides the obvious fact that outdoor cardio offers something completely different to the four walls of your local gym, Mother Nature is the oldest psychiatrist of all,” says MaxX.

I believe that nature is closely linked to mental health. A run on the trails can calm anxiety and a brisk walk in your local park can ease anger. There is always some place new to explore, offering constant challenges while helping us rediscover ourselves.”

Additional benefits for cardio for gym goers:

  1. A strong aerobic base aids recovery.
  2. A strong aerobic base can improve lifting performance with greater strength endurance.
  3. Cardio strengthens heart and lung function for better cardiovascular health.

Outdoor cardio guidelines

Structure your weekly cardio routine with:

  • 1-2 HIIT sessions on non-lifting days
  • 2-3 longer low-intensity sessions, ideally performed first thing in the morning in a fasted state.

Fasted cardio can deliver superior results because your body is slightly glycogen-depleted and insulin levels are low following the extended night-time ‘fast’. This means your body will likely burn fat as its primary fuel source during the cardio session, as long as you keep within the intensity guidelines.

Fasted cardio guidelines include:

  • Drink a cup of black coffee or a thermogenic fat burner before your session.
  • Keep the intensity low to moderate.
  • Aim to keep moving for 75-120 minutes.

Consistency is the key

According to MaxX, the key to success with any form of cardio is consistency. “There’s no secret formula. Whatever your sport or discipline, consistency is the only effective means to improve your overall fitness and conditioning.

So, if you feel like it’s time to do something about your lacklustre cardio sessions in the gym, following MaxX\s advice and head outdoors.

Take in the fresh air, chase the sunset or capture the sunrise while the rest of the world slumbers. Let go of the idea that you must always be what you have always been. There is so much more to fitness than the confines of a gym.”