Confession. I loath, abhor, detest and utterly despise “cardio.”
You know what I mean, the long, steady-state
plod jog, or boring 45 minute-long loping session on the elliptical. Because it’s “good for you” to do aerobic training, gotta train that heart right?… *Disclaimer: I know there are benefits of running and some people truly enjoy running. If that be the case, power to you! Run to your heart’s content (just check your form first).*
But for the rest of us NOT endowed with an innate love of running, there is hope!
If you’re like me, steady-state exercise
a) leaves you aching and unsatisfied
b) makes sitting in traffic seem like a party
Let us then, broaden our definition:
“Cardio” anything that ELEVATES your heart rate
“Aerobic” a state of SUSTAINED heart rate in which your cells have enough oxygen to utilize for function
By these expanded definitions, “cardio” can include weight lifting, kettlebell swings, sled pushing, body weight circuits, hill sprints… the list goes on. “Aerobic” now includes activities such as cooking, reading, watching TV… the list goes on. Different perspective huh?
I will in future posts delve into more detail about cardiovascular training (for performance, weight loss, general curiosity… etc) but for now, just some practical stuff.
Here are 3-ish alternatives to the Tread-o-Doom:
Pick 3-8 exercises, string them together for 5-10 reps each, 3-5 times through. (how’s that for detailed?)
Squats x 10
Pushups x 6-10
Step-back lunge x 8/side
Inverted row x 6-8
Mountain climbers x 10/leg
Jumping Jack x 10-15
Rest 1-3 minutes per round. Repeat 2-4 more times.
For another example:
Medicine ball slam x 10
Romanian deadlift x 6-8
Dumbbell row (2 or 1 arm) x 8-10
Single-arm overhead press x 6-8/arm
Timed exercise rounds:
Essentially pick an exercise (or a few) and see how many reps/rounds you can complete (with GOOD form) within a given time frame. Note: you can also use the circuits from above and turn them into timed challenges too.
That’s my beast husband dominating this circuit. Sarah wrote about this workout a while ago on our SAPT Strength site. I can attest it IS quite brutal and quite fun. It’s one of my favorites as it can be adjusted to be back and hip friendly.
As many burpees (or insert: kettlebell swings, pushups, pullups…choose your
poison heart-pumper) possible in 8-10 minutes (or less… just move faster). I recommend working in sets of 5-10. Adjust the exercises/reps/time to fit your abilities and goals.
Sled pushes and Hill sprints:
Grab a prowler/sled/plate on a towel (depending on your resources) and push. Don’t think about this too much. Seriously. Find a distance that you can push your implement of choice for about 20-30 yards without passing out on the way. Repeat as many times needed.
For those not so lucky to have a prowler (ours is named Thor), hill sprints are an excellent alternative.
Again, don’t think too much. Find a hill, run up as fast as you can, walk down… repeat. The length and angle of your hill will determine how many times you can/want to run up your hill.
Ta-daa! Now, this is just a very small scratch on the surface of training methods that are available to the non-lovers of running.
I should mention that each of these workouts should last anywhere form 4-20 minutes. Any longer than that and you’re either
a) not working hard enough
b) doing too much… stop it.
The modality, duration and intensity should fit both your ability levels and your fitness goals. You should be breathing hard but not about to pass out (well… at least not EVERY time…). That should be sufficient to keep your heart and lungs in shape and keep you excited about your workout.