A cardio cue is a mental mantra that directs your attention to a particular aspect of your technique. 

They’re helpful for mastering form and rectifying errors that reduce efficiency or heighten injury risk.

In this article, you’ll learn the best running, cycling, rowing, jump rope, and walking cues, the problems they address, and why they boost your performance.

Running Cues

Use these proper running form cues to burnish your running technique and run more efficiently.

1. “Big chest.”

The problem: Your shoulders round, and your upper back hunches as you run, which can restrict your breathing.

The fix: Running tall by keeping your chest “big” and proud keeps your shoulders back and your back flat, which helps you breathe more easily. It also encourages you to lean forward slightly, which is crucial for running efficiently. 

2. “Floor is lava.”

The problem: You take long strides, leaving your feet in contact with the floor for too long.

The fix: Imagining that the floor is lava encourages you to take quicker, shorter strides, keeping your “ground contact time” (the length of time that your foot is in contact with the ground while running) to a minimum and increasing your steps per minute, which boosts running efficiency and reduces injury risk.

3. “Hips forward.”

The problem: You run with your feet ahead of your hips, limiting lower-body power and contributing to “heel striking,” a type of foot strike that may elevate the risk of injuries.

The fix: Think about thrusting your hips forward so that they stay over your feet. Doing so boosts running power and may lower injury risk.

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Cycling Cues

Here are three of the best coaching cues for indoor cycling that’ll boost your performance on long-distance rides and in spinning classes.

1. “Smooth circles.”

The problem: As you fatigue, you begin to pedal inconsistently, pushing and pulling harshly on the pedals.

The fix: Visualizing making “smooth circles” with your pedals encourages a steady, consistent pedal motion and increases cadence, leading to better cycling efficiency.

2. “Butt back.”

The problem: While out of the saddle, you round your lower back, tucking your hips under your torso.

The fix: By visualizing pushing your butt back, you maintain a neutral spine and align your hips over the pedals. This leverages the full power of your legs and boosts cycling efficiency.

3. “Scrape the mud off your sole.”

The problem: You point your toes or heels down during each pedal stroke, hindering your power output.

The fix: “Scraping the mud off your sole” prompts you to keep your sole parallel to the floor, maximizing force throughout the pedal stroke and minimizing calf fatigue.

Indoor Rowing Cues

If you like to train on an indoor rowing machine, these cues will improve your rowing stroke and enhance your rowing workouts.

1. “Pull the handle through your body.”

The problem: You shorten your pull, which prevents you from using your upper-body strength.

The fix: Visualizing trying to “pull the handle through your body” helps you engage your back and arms, optimizing upper-body power output.

2. “Push the footrests away.”

The problem: You focus too heavily on pulling with your arms at the expense of driving through your legs.

The fix: From the starting position, when your legs are bent, and your body is nearest the monitor, concentrate on “pushing the footrests away.” This ensures you drive powerfully with your legs before pulling with your arms, maximizing force with each row.

3. “Point your collarbones to the ceiling.”

The problem: You lean too far forward and round your upper back and shoulders during each rowing stroke.

The fix: With the cue “point your collarbones to the ceiling,” you maintain an open chest and a straighter back, which helps you generate more power and conserve energy.

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Jump Rope Cues

Jump rope form can seem perplexing, especially in the beginning. Polish your technique with these simple jump rope cues.

1. “Twist your wrists.”

The problem: Relying on arm and shoulder movement to swing the rope can cause inconsistency in rope speed and height, which makes it harder to keep a rhythm and increases the odds you’ll trip. 

The fix: Twisting the rope with your wrists conserves energy, helps you maintain a steady rhythm, and makes each rope swing more easily repeatable. 

2. “Tuck your elbows.”

The problem: Allowing your elbows to drift away from your sides effectively shortens the rope and increases the chances you’ll clip your feet or head.

The fix: Tucking your elbows to your sides ensures the rope stays at the correct length, making it easier to maintain a constant rhythm. 

3. “Tap your scalp on the ceiling.”

The problem: Jumping too high wastes energy and can throw off your timing.

The fix: Pretend the ceiling is just a couple of inches above your head and aim to tap your scalp against it on every jump. Using this cue encourages you to keep your jumps small and not overly explosive, which saves energy and helps you keep a consistent rhythm.

Walking Cues

Whether you enjoy hiking, rucking, or casual strolls around the mall, these walking cues can make the experience more comfortable. 

1. “Pull the string.”

The problem: You slouch while walking, rounding your shoulders and jutting your neck.

The fix: Imagine someone pulling up on a string attached to your scalp. This helps to keep your spine straight and your posture upright, ensuring efficient movement.

2. “Balance a bucket on your head.”

The problem: Continually looking down strains your neck and can disrupt your walking rhythm.

The fix: Visualizing balancing a water-filled bucket on your head ensures you maintain a level gaze, preventing neck and upper back strain. It also stops you from exaggerating arm swing, which can boost walking efficiency. 

3. “Roll your feet.”

The problem: Striking the ground flat-footed with every step increases impact on your lower-body joints.

The fix: Thinking about “rolling your feet” from heel to toe with every step reduces joint strain and creates a fluid stride, ensuring a smoother transition between each step.