Everyone hates cardio, but it doesn’t have to be this way! Here are some cardio alternatives that will get your heart rate pumping.
Cardio Alternatives to Put Your Entire Body to Work
Swimming is one of the best cardio exercises for beginners. The water will enhance your performance since it forces your muscles to work against gravity, plus, there’s zero impact.
There are different ways for you to burn calories in the water, but a breaststroke lets you burn more than a butterfly stroke. You can also try water-treading intervals or swim as fast as you can to burn more calories.
2. High-Intensity Interval Training
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a type of workout that forces you to do a lot of reps of different exercises at maximum intensity in a short amount of time. HIIT also limits your rest period, which can greatly help with increasing your stamina, making this one of the cardio alternatives you should try.
Choose the best cardio exercises to include your HIIT workout. Here’s a 10-minute sample workout you can try:
- Burpees for 40 seconds
- Butt kicks for 40 seconds
- Mountain climbers for 45 seconds
- Side lunges for 45 seconds
- Jump squats for 45 seconds
Do two sets of this HIIT workout and take 15-second breaks in between each exercise.
Sprints are far faster and better at burning calories than running because of the increase in speed and intensity. The quick burst of energy also challenges your stamina and engages your whole body.
You can do sprints on a treadmill or without a machine. Its versatility makes it one of the best cardio exercises at home, around your block, or at the park.
- Track: sprint one lap and then jog one lap before sprinting again.
- Treadmill: sprint for 30 seconds, slow down, then jog for a minute and repeat.
- Stairs: sprint to the top and jog back down.
- Hills: sprint to the top only as running down can damage your knees.
Cycling is only an effective cardio exercise when you can maintain your fat-burning heart rate. An hour of vigorous cycling can help you burn more than 1,000 calories, while a moderate one can only burn 600 calories.
You can burn more calories in a small amount of time if you do high-intensity intervals of cycling for 5 minutes. Then slow down for 1 minute and go back to a higher intensity. Keep repeating this for as long as you can.
Rowing exercises aren’t just effective upper body exercises, but it’s also great cardio and it engages the upper and lower body muscles while taking it easy on your joints and ligaments.
You can burn about 800 calories per hour while doing moderate rowing. This can go up to 1,000 calories if you increase the intensity and do short sprints for an hour. Try to row 250 meters in under 20 minutes. Then rest for one minute before rowing for another 20 minutes. It helps to time yourself.
Tips: Use your entire body to row and not just your arms. Use your legs to keep up the movement and always keep your chest out.
6. Kettlebell Cardio Exercises
Kettlebell exercises are not usually considered cardio exercises because they often engage upper and lower body muscles. On the other hand, these exercises are also great alternatives to cardio because of its calorie-burning potential.
A kettlebell workout can help you burn 20 calories per minute while doing aerobic and anaerobic exercises. While you’re burning 500 calories in 30 minutes, you are also building muscle.
Tips: Choose a kettlebell weight that’ll allow you to do 20 reps but not more than 30. Do each exercise for 30 seconds and rest for 20 seconds. Do this workout for about 30 minutes.
7. Stair Climbers
Instead of running, climbing up the stairs can help you burn more calories and fat, even at a moderate pace. You can burn 500 calories with that pace and double it if you go faster.
This exercise requires more energy because it forces you to lift your legs higher to move up each step. It’s also a great exercise to strengthen your leg muscles, but it puts more pressure on your joints.
Find out what pace allows you to do 15 rounds without hurting your knees. Sprint up the stairs in 30 seconds and take your time going down before going up again.
8. Elliptical Machine Exercises
Elliptical machine exercises put a lot less pressure on your knees. They are better alternatives to cardio for people with weaker knees and joints. At a moderate pace, you can still burn about 500 calories in an hour.
If you think you can handle a more intense elliptical workout, increase the incline of the machine to further engage your leg muscles and glutes. You can also lower the incline but increase the resistance to stimulate a cross-country skiing workout for your quads.
Tip: Don’t hold onto the handrails for support because it can cause injury and decrease your efforts.
9. Jumping Rope
Jump ropes are a stable regimen for boxers because it’s easy, affordable, improves foot speed, increases shoulder strength, boosts coordination, and burns a lot of calories. You can burn up to 500 calories in 30 minutes of jumping rope. You can also burn more if you switch between fast and slow jumps and rest for 30 seconds.
10. Circuit Training
Circuit training is an endurance and resistance type of training that uses high-intensity workouts. It includes exercises for muscle endurance and strength building. One circuit is a completion of one set for each exercise.
There are different types of circuit training you can try:
- Timed circuit: there are sets of time periods for each exercise and shorter periods of rest in between.
- Competition circuit: you also use a timer but at the same time, trying to fit as many reps during the time period.
- Repetition circuit: you have to accomplish a given number of reps without taking a break.
A basic example of a timed circuit training workout includes different types of push-ups, squats, sit-ups, lunges, and chin-ups. Do 30 seconds of each exercise and take 30 seconds to rest before moving on to the next one. You can make your circuits more intense by lowering the rest period to 15 seconds.
Plyometric training involves strength-building exercises that are done at maximum force during a short time. These exercises often involve hops, jumps, and fast feet movements. These explosive movements make for great cardio because of its metabolic conditioning and ability to help increase stamina because of the quick burst of energy.
Watch the video below for more kettlebell workout ideas you can try:
There are a lot of cardio alternatives to running and most of them offer more benefits other than simply burning calories. Changing your cardio workout will not just keep your sessions more interesting but will also challenge your body further.
What other cardio alternatives do you add to your workout? Share them with us in the comments section below!