As I’m writing this, the outside temperature is -10. If that’s not bad enough, there is ice everywhere, making any type of running or sprinting near impossible. With few other options, most people turn to the treadmill, elliptical, or the stationary bike to get their cardio training in.
There is nothing wrong with doing that, so if that’s what you enjoy, then go for it. But if you are looking for some different cardio options that maybe aren’t so boring (and possibly more effective for fat loss), the following videos show some different things you can try.
Here are three different ways I use the treadmill that don’t involve long distance running.
- For sprints, use a high incline and speed (10% and 10mph is a good place to start). Leave the belt running while you are resting so you don’t waste time getting it back up to speed. A typical workout would be 10-20 sprints of 15 seconds, resting for 45 seconds in between.
- Leave the belt OFF for the dead treadmill sprints. These are a killer. One of the most effective fat loss exercises I’ve ever used. 10-15 sprints of 20 seconds usually will do the job.
- I like going for time on the walking lunges. It may not look like much, but once you work up to 5-10 minutes of continuous lunges, you’ll see this is a great cardiovascular workout.
“Cardio” isn’t just limited to machines like the treadmill. Resistance training (lifting weights) has many cardiovascular benefits, and if structured properly, can easily have you just as winded as running can. In a previous post I showed how to pair different upper and lower body exercises to plan a total body workout. Well, you can do the same thing and come up with thousands of different combinations to be performed as a circuit. The following video shows a sample circuit of 8 different exercises, alternating between upper and lower body, pushing and pulling exercises.
- Perform each exercise back to back with as little rest as possible
- When choosing weights, it is important to keep the goal of the circuit in mind. If it is only conditioning, then you should pick weights that allow you to perform the reps fairly quickly and with no rest between exercises
- The number of reps per exercise will depend on how many exercises you choose. In order to keep the video shorter, I only did 5 reps of each, but 8-10 would have also worked
- Rest periods from one round to the next will depend on the intensity of the circuit. You should still be a little out of breath, but once you start the next round you should be able to finish it without resting
These are good to put at the end of a normal resistance training session – hence the name “finisher.” Doing these after lifting weights will only make them more effective, as your heart rate is already elevated and the targeted muscles are already fatigued. Doing these, or any intense cardio training, before lifting will have an adverse effect on your strength training and won’t have the same cardiovascular effect.
I’ve found the easiest way to do any of these is to set a timer (or pick a song) and just go for an extended time, like the treadmill lunges. If doing just one is too boring, pick a couple and do a few minutes of each at the end of a workout.
Lower Body Finishers
Upper Body Finisher
There is no limit to the number of combinations you can come up with using the above examples. Try working some treadmill sprints into a circuit, or a medicine ball circuit paired with walking lunges, etc. Cardio does not have to be boring, now go do it!