What type of cardio do you need to do based on your body goals?

People start exercising for lots of different reasons. Whether you want to improve your fitness, tone muscle, or lose weight, cardio can help. You can vary your cardio routine, even including other workouts like strength training, to keep things interesting and to better achieve your goals.


What is cardio?

Cardio, or cardiovascular exercise, is a continuous exercise that aims to elevate the heart rate. This type of exercise can improve physical, emotional, and mental health.

Within this type of exercise, various low to high-impact and light to strenuous options exist. This means you should be able to find a cardio workout that suits your lifestyle, body, and health aims.

For instance, not everyone likes or can reasonably run several times a week. Some people dislike running, while others can’t do the exercise without feeling the strain on their knees. A lower-impact cardio workout like swimming or a spin class might be a better fit for someone who can’t or doesn’t like running.


Physical benefits of cardio

Many people start cardio aiming to lose weight. However, often their actual goal aligns more closely with wanting to burn fat. Losing weight can mean shedding muscle and water weight, whereas burning fat targets fat and often involves trying to tone up.

So, as stated above, cardiovascular exercise can:

  • Help you lose weight.
  • Burn fat.
  • Build and strengthen muscles.
  • Strengthen the heart, and reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Improve lung function.
  • Lower blood pressure.

You should do cardio 3 to 6 times weekly for around 30 to 60 minutes to get the best results.


The non-physical advantages of doing cardio

It’s not just the body that cardiovascular exercise is good for. Frequent cardio exercise is good for the mind, body, and soul. It has been found to positively affect health in both an overall sense and in some precise ways. These include:

  • Improving sleep.
  • Feeling happier.
  • Boosting energy.
  • Enhancing cognitive function and memory.
  • Strengthening the immune system.
  • Cardiovascular exercise can even reduce the risk of developing diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Cardio can do many wonderful things for the mind and body. It can even have long-lasting and life-changing effects if done correctly and regularly.

With all these benefits on offer, it is obvious why you should build cardio into your fitness routine. But also consider things like whether you prefer to work out alone or with people. After all, you’re more likely to continue exercising and to see more benefits if you find ways to enjoy cardio.


Our top cardio routines:

Cardiovascular routines come in all shapes and sizes. Some are higher-impact on joints than others, and most can be scaled to better suit total beginners to cardio pros.


Running is one of the most popular cardio exercises and a great calorie burner. It requires no equipment, apart from a pair of trainers, and runners can go for as long or as fast as they choose. A new runner developed the couch to 5K program for new runners. The free program has helped many start their running journey.


Cycling is another cardio favourite. This exercise is a lower impact than running and is a preferable choice for many. Additionally, while you may need to have or borrow a bike for cycling outdoors, that’s not your only choice. Most gyms have static bikes, and many run spin classes where you can get your heart rate up, strengthen your core and leg muscles, and lose fat.

HIIT workouts

HIIT workouts quickly became one of the best-loved cardio workouts. It involves bouts of high-intensity exercises spaced with lower-intensity ones that keep the heart rate up. This is one of the best cardio workouts for burning fat fast.


Swimming is a non-impact cardio and strength training exercise rolled into one. It’s a great way to work your muscles and burn calories and fat while strengthening the heart.


Walking is another low-impact and lower-intensity exercise that keeps the heart rate up and burns calories and fat. Hiking and stair climbers (or just climbing stairs) can help involve more resistance training and a core muscle workout into a cardio exercise like walking.

Jump rope

Jumping rope is one of the highest intensity and highest impact cardio workouts. Because of this, it’s not necessarily the best to do every day. However, it’s a great way to work arm and leg muscles while quickly burning calories. All you need to get started is a little time and a jump rope.


Working out safely

You should consider monitoring your heart rate if you want to get the most from your cardio workout. Too low, and you won’t see the full benefits of your efforts or too high, putting your heart under unnecessary stress and strain.

There are plenty of heart monitoring tools, including wrist straps and watches like Fitbits. Most gyms also have fitness equipment that can monitor heart rates. 220 minus your age is one of the most common equations used. This sum gives the maximum heart rate you should hit when exercising, so someone 35 years old should have a heart rate of no more than 185 when working out.

By monitoring your heart rate, you can ensure you hit your ideal fitness or fat loss goals without overexerting yourself.


What should you know before you start your cardio journey?

There are a few things you should take note of before you start your cardio journey.

  • It’s crucial you build rest into your workout regime. Your body and mind need downtime to recover and start stronger than before.
  • Listen to your body. The same cardio workouts won’t work well for everyone, and you might need to switch things up. For instance, if you run a lot and start experiencing pain in your knees, you should swap out your run for a lower-impact exercise like swimming or cycling for a few days.
  • Choose exercises that you enjoy. You’re more likely to keep it up if you don’t dread doing it.
  • Remember that it’s okay to make mistakes. You’re bound to miss workouts here and there, and that’s alright. One skipped session isn’t going to ruin what you’ve been working towards, so don’t be too hard on yourself.
Jürg Widmer Probst- running distance

How to choose your ideal running distance

Most road runners have a favourite distance, but picking your ideal running distance can be tricky as you weigh up options from 5km to the marathon.

For many people, the choice boils down to how much time they have available, but factors such as your fitness, body type and even your life goals will influence your choice.


Finding enough time in your life for a run can be challenging, which is why 5km and 10km races are so popular.

This is exemplified by the success of Parkrun, an organisation which puts on free 5km races at more than 1,400 venues in 22 different countries. An estimated quarter of a million people take part in these runs every Saturday morning.

Parkrun’s success is partly down to the fact that 5km is a realistic target for most people, and you can build up to the distance quickly even from a low fitness base. Training runs can be short, so they can fit into busy schedules.

If you have your eyes on longer races, then you have to think about the sheer amount of time you need to be training. Completing a marathon under three hours is a very respectable achievement, and your training is likely to take up a lot of time every week.

Body type and fitness level

Your body type plays a big part in the running distance you choose, especially if you are just starting out.

Road running has an impact on your body, and mostly that is positive, as your lungs, heart and energy systems can all improve with exercise. However, you also have to manage the physical demands that running places on your joints, muscles and bones.

When you run your lower legs absorb around four times your body weight, which is one reason why the best distance runners are usually short and slim. Their legs do not need to work as hard just to carry the rest of the body.

If you are heavily built or overweight, you can risk foot and shin injuries if you start running too far or too quickly. Take it slow and keep it short to start with, and increase your pace or mileage as your fitness improves.

Beware the call of the marathon

The marathon is an iconic distance and anyone who completes one deserves tremendous praise, but don’t assume it’s your ideal running distance or even your ultimate goal.

You can run for fitness, health, companionship, pleasure, and even for the thrill of competition without tackling something as long and demanding as a marathon’s 26 miles.

Such a long race demands a huge commitment of time and energy, and that just might not suit your body or your lifestyle.

The same logic applies to various time milestones, like 20 minutes for the 5km or 1 hour for the 10k. These are arbitrary goals that might not be useful to you.


This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t set any ambitious goals for yourself as a runner. Your running distance now might be just a starting point, and your goals should be appropriate and achievable.

You may have a goal of completing a Parkrun, or you could be using running to achieve a different goal like losing weight or reducing your blood pressure.

Be realistic about your goals and identify intermediate goals that will help you achieve your ultimate aims. For example, you can work up to different milestone distances as you aim to complete a half-marathon.

Be flexible and enjoy yourself

Running is one of the most joyous and liberating ways to exercise, and when you find your ideal running distance it can be very satisfying to set personal bests or discover new routes.

But don’t be afraid to experiment at different distances to get the most out of your exercise. If you love the tempo and convenience of a 5km, try an occasional slower 10km to give your body a new challenge.

As you get older you might also want to change your running distance. This encourages some runners to slow down but go longer, while others opt for reducing the distances.


Running is a wonderful form of exercise and finding your ideal running distance is part of the experience. Think about your body type, try different distances, keep focused and, most of all, enjoy yourself.

Jürg Widmer Probst- fitness - prevent running injuries 1

Jürg Widmer Probst explains how to prevent running injuries

Are you a keen runner? Do you find that you keep getting injured? If so, you’re not alone. It’s a common issue among runners – that, for whatever reason, the injuries just start piling up. However, it doesn’t have to be like this. To help you out, we’ve pulled together our top tips on how to prevent running injuries.

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Wondering how to prevent running injuries? Begin with warming up and cooling down properly

This is the big one. How many of us actually warm up and cool down properly? Not many, we’d guess. And yet it is absolutely fundamental to staying injury-free.

Forcing your muscles to go from sitting on a sofa to running even just 5k is a big step if you haven’t prepared them. Warming up gets the blood circulating, it stretches the muscle fibres and it also gets you mentally in the zone. Cooling down is equally important, transitioning you from intense activity to rest.

Find a warm up that suits you – dynamic lunges are great for stretching out your hips and your hamstrings. But we’d also just recommend a five-minute walk. It’s as good a way as any to prepare for a run.

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Don’t just focus on your legs

Imagine you’re training for a marathon. You’re putting in the miles and have even got up to a half marathon distance. You felt tired, but good – this is something you feel you can do, at a push.

There’s only one problem – you’re getting a nagging pain on the outside of your knee. You try to shake it off, but then, once marathon day comes around, you’re forced to pull out around half way.

The chances are, if it’s an injury like an IT band strain, that it’s not actually your legs that are too blame. Sure – you’ve been getting plenty of miles under your belt. But the fact is that an underlying mechanical problem – perhaps weak glutes or calves– is affecting your running form.

Once you get to runs over half marathon distance, that kind of weakness can really have an impact. You might feel fit enough to run the whole way. But if your legs aren’t working in the most efficient way because your body isn’t supporting their motion correctly, something is going to give. Remember running is a whole body exercise – so don’t neglect those crunches, hip flexes and core exercises too.

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Sort your running form out

There are lots of factors that go into developing the right running form. One of the most important is the point we’ve made above. It’s crucial to make sure you’re strong enough to support your body through the repeated impact of running.

It also comes down to footwear too, of course. It’s one of the most hotly-debated topics in running. Whether you’re a minimalist or maximalist when it comes to shoes, our advice is not to follow the crowd.

Go to a proper athletics shop and get them to look at your running form. Hit the treadmill and get them to do a gait analysis. It should go a long way toward you getting shoes that help you to run efficiently and in a way that isn’t damaging you.

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Learn to rest

We all love to run. So much, that it can become an addiction for some. This is particularly the case for new runners. You’re bitten by the bug and you just want to get out on the trails or the road as often as you can.

The problems arise when you forget to listen to your body (or your training plan). In our enthusiasm to run, it can be easy to think ‘I’ll just go for a short jog today’ when in actual fact we should be resting. It’s important even when we’re not feeling a niggling injury.

Rest days are as important as training days, because this is the time when you consolidate the progress you’ve made. Every run causes micro-tears in your muscles, and rest days are your body’s opportunity to rebuild them.

The theory is that they rebuild them stronger (increasing our strength), but if we don’t rest they don’t have a chance to do this.

So, don’t ignore that big red ‘R’ in your training plan calendar. It’s there for a reason.

Jürg Widmer Probst - Fitness trainer technology

Can trainer technology help you run quicker?

Nike’s recent Breaking2 project was a remarkable trainer technology effort that has had a few important consequences. Of course, there is the idea of an attempt at running a sub-2hr marathon, which is something truly unbelievable, and significant achievement in itself.

But the attempt (not surprisingly) was also a massive marketing coup for Nike. Although Eliud Kipchoge and two other runners didn’t quite break the two hour mark in the end, the project was a triumph in terms of promoting some pretty spectacular-sounding shoe technology.

From super springy carbon fibre plates to tech that’s alleged to make you run 4 per cent faster, there are some big claims out there. So what do we think?

The tech does seem to make a difference…

Nike aren’t the only company to make big claims about their shoe technology, of course, but they have one of the best marketing machines out there. And the fact that they have the greatest marathon runner of all time – Eliud Kipchoge – on their books certainly gives them a lot of kudos. So does the tech make a difference? In our opinion, we’d say it does.

The Zoom Vaporfly 4% Flyknit shoes Kipchoge wore for Breaking2 are hard to come by. But having tried out the more affordable Zoom Fly Flyknit shoes (which incorporate a lot of the same technology), we’re certainly impressed. They’re super light, and that carbon fibre plate in the sole gives a noticeable energy return as your foot flexes away from the ground. On our first run out with them we shaved off a couple of minutes from our usual 5k time.

… but you’re only as good as the training you put in.

Which is great – and compared to the kind of trainers that were available five, ten, fifteen years ago, a shoe like the Zoom Fly is an impressive piece of kit. But ultimately, that is all it is. If you have poor running form, or you’re just not fit enough, these shoes (or indeed any shoe) is unlikely to make a significant difference.

In our experience, the best way to improve your running speed by 4 per cent is not to spend £200 on a new pair of running shoes. The best way to become a better runner is simply to run more. Sure, new shoes can help you to run more efficiently, and maybe even for a little longer, but ultimately you need to put the hard miles in, out on the road.

That’s not so say you shouldn’t treat yourself from time to time, of course…

Jurg Widmer Probst fitness road running shoes

Our top five running shoes for road running

It is one of the great pleasures of running: having an excuse to go out and buy a new pair of running shoes. You’ve put the hard miles in out on the road, and your old pair are showing their age – so, here is our guide to the five best shoes that money can buy.

Go on, you’ve earned them!

1. Nike Vaporfly 4% Flyknit

If money is no object, then there really is only one choice for us. The Vaporfly is prohibitively expensive, of course, but then there is an incredible amount of technology and testing crammed into it.

The upper hugs your feet almost like a pair of light, breathable socks, but with more than enough support too. There’s a carbon fibre strip embedded in the ZoomX foam sole for support as well.

You’ll feel a remarkable amount of energy bouncing back out on the road from that sole – but then this really is a true racer’s shoe. If it’s good enough for 2 hour marathon man Eliud Kipchoge then it’s good enough for us.

2. Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo

Another Nike, but one that is slightly more within reach for the average runner. If you can’t afford (or justify) the high price you’ll pay for the Vaporfly, then the Pegasus Turbo is your next best bet.

It might not give you that extra 4% (but who really needs that, anyway!) but Pegasus is a well-loved name in the world of running shoes for good reason.

You actually get quite a bit of that 4% magic anyway – they’ve used the same ZoomX foam and you’ll find the sole still feels wonderfully cushioned out on the road.

This is the latest iteration of a classic, versatile shoe that is as good for a slow Park Run as it is for a marathon. Highly recommended.

3. The Brooks Ghost 11

Brooks are a big name in running and the Ghost is one of their most well-loved road shoes. It’s considerably more affordable than the Vaporfly too, which makes it a great option for the beginner runner.

They’re light and yet a pair of Ghosts still give you an incredible amount of support. The sole is stable and gives you an extra bit of cushioning – something your knees will thank you for once you start getting more miles under your belt.

4. Adidas Adizero Boston 7

Some people swear by Adidas running shoes and while we’re not usually one of them, this shoe really caught our attention.

It’s well cushioned for one, but we loved the way that you never lose any feel for the road beneath your feet. The construction is lightweight and felt stable, even over longer distances and varying road conditions.

It’s a shoe that will probably appeal to more experienced runners – it feels light and speedy, and the kind of trainer that you may well run a PB in one day.

5. New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v9

These are comfortable shoes – make no mistake. But New Balance have also stuck an insole in there too to give you a perfectly cushioned running experience.

While you will still feel the road beneath your feet, with the Fresh Foam you get the sense that the bumps are nicely ironed out.

They’re fully breathable, of course, and while they are not the most exciting looking shoe out there, they will look after you for mile after mile.

Jürg Widmer Probst

Jürg Widmer Probst - fitness Marathon

Preparing for your first marathon

So, you’ve finally done it. You’ve gone and plucked up the courage to click ‘submit’ on your online entry. You’ve paid your fee, agreeing to run your first marathon, and worst of all, you’ve told all your friends you’re going to do it.

There is no backing out now – and now the real challenge begins. How on earth do you prepare for something as mind blowingly gruelling as 26.2 miles of hard running?

Well, we’ll be honest – it isn’t going to be easy. It wouldn’t be a marathon if it was. But it is do-able. Here are our tips for marathon first timers.

Get the right training plan

Notice the key word here is the ‘right’ training plan. There are countless ones out there – just search online – but they are for a myriad of different abilities and time scales.

So, think about how long you have to train before the big day. And have a very clear (and most importantly, honest) sense of where you are at in terms of fitness – and then choose your plan accordingly. Also, it’s probably well worth getting yourself checked out by a doctor if you have any doubts about your health.

Never increase your mileage by more than 10%

It’s a simple rule, but an incredibly important one. Keeping any mileage increase to 10% at the most is a great way to balance both pushing yourself to run further with protecting yourself from injury. So, if you run 10 miles one week, run no further than 11 the following week.

Use those rest days!

When you’re really getting into running it can be very tempting to do it all the time. You’re feeling great, and you can see the improvement you’re making. Then along comes one of those boring days with an ‘R’ for ‘Rest’ next to it in your training plan, and you decide that one more little run won’t harm you.

The problem is that those rest days are absolutely crucial – they allow your body to recover, but also to embed some of the fitness that you have been building up while you’re running. Don’t miss them out – they’re there for a reason.

Enjoy the day itself

It sounds ridiculous to say when you’re running well over 20 miles, but do try and enjoy the day. Yes, it will be unbelievably tough, and you are probably going to have more than a few dark moments.

But it is also really important to try soak up the experience of being out there for your first marathon – after all, you may never do it again!

So, while you are out there, look around you. Soak up the adulation of the crowds, high five the kids as you pass, and enjoy the luxury of being able to eat as many jelly babies as you feel like.

You have earned every single last one of them.

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The world’s toughest trail running races - Jurg Widmer Probst

The world’s toughest trail running races

We all get tired of running on the roads sometimes. It can be monotonous dodging the crowds and the traffic, and the tarmac is punishing on our joints – particularly our knees.

So, what better than pulling on a pair of trail shoes and heading out into the wilderness for a while? Running off road has been around for as long as men and women have loved to run, but trail running is having a real boom at the moment. There are thousands of races and trail running challenges out there – but here, we’ve picked just a few of the very toughest on the planet to inspire you.

1. The UTMB, Switzerland

One of the most famous trail races on the planet, the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) is a single-stage mountain ultra marathon – which really is as gruelling as it sounds. It is as tough to get into as it is to run – you’ll need to have been competing in ultra marathons for a while, accumulating the necessary points (and endurance!) to enter. But if you do get in, you will enjoy a truly unique experience – a route that covers 171 kilometres (with nearly 33,000 ft of climb!) – over the Alps of France, Italy and Switzerland.

2. The Barkley Marathons, Tennessee

If you haven’t seen the Netflix documentary on this infamous race, you might want to before you even think about trying to enter. This race is a true anomaly in the world of trail racing, and is the brainchild of one man, Gary ‘Lazarus Lake’ Cantrell. The race takes place in Frozen Head State Park near Wartburg, Tennessee and is approximately 100 miles long. We say ‘approximately’ because the route changes every year and is notoriously fluid and hard to follow.

The race was inspired by the story of an escaped convicted who managed to cover just 8 miles in the woods over a period of 55 hours – the challenge for runners in the Barkley Marathons is to try and run the 100 mile route within a 60 hour cut off. Only 40 runners a year can enter – all you need to do is pay your fee, write an essay entitled ‘Why I Should be Allowed to Run in the Barkley’ and bring a license plate from your home country if you are (un)lucky enough to be chosen to race.

3. The Bob Graham Round, Cumbria

Actually more of a mountain running challenge than a set race, the Bob Graham Round is one of the toughest out there. The challenge is to run across 42 of the English Lake District’s mountains within 24 hours – something that guest house owner Bob Graham himself first achieved back in 1932.

It has been a jewel in the crown for trail and fell runners ever since, with professional trail runner Killian Jornet holding the current record. If you can beat his incredible time of 12hr 52m, then your place in trail running history is all but assured.

We hope these races inspire you to try running off road for yourself. While these incredibly tough races might be out of reach for most of us, taking the time to leave the tarmac behind and enjoy the wilderness is something we can all enjoy.

Jürg Widmer Probst

Jurg Widmer Probst

A beginner’s guide to running further

Whether it’s completing a 100km ultra marathon or just managing to jog to work every day, as runners most of will have goals that we want to achieve. It is the way we measure ourselves, and how we set targets that will hopefully push us to improve, little by little. These targets can be about beating a specific time – maybe a sub-three hour marathon – or perhaps you might have a certain number of kilos you’d like to shed. Continue reading “A beginner’s guide to running further”

Jurg Widmer - Runner

How to start running – and the mistakes to avoid

People run for all sorts of different reasons – some with a specific goal in mind, mine was losing weight – but the benefits of running also extend far beyond just the physical well being you’ll feel from getting out on the road. It’s also a fantastic way to beat stress and to clear the mind, as it is an activity that really encourages you to step out of your daily life and to just focus on the world around you. Particularly if you run off road, that time you spend running is an opportunity to get back in touch with the natural world  and to start to feel physically and mentally alive again – in a way that is just impossible in the gym. Continue reading “How to start running – and the mistakes to avoid”