Non Treadmill Cardio
I've tried over and over again to become a "runner" but it never works, it's just not my favorite. Runners always claim that I only hate it because I've never hit that elusive runner's high, and if I were to run for 8 miles instead of 3 I'd love it. Umm, sure, whatever you say...
I CAN run, and in high school I was even one of the fastest girls on my soccer team, but I could never get into track because it was just running for the sake of running, there was no purpose (like chasing a ball).
But despite my personal feelings towards cardio, it's still an important and necessary part of a healthy lifestyle. Luckily for me, there is more than one way to skin a cat (as my dad would say).
So if you are like me, it's OK, we can still kinda hate on cardio together, but here are 3 great alternatives to add in to your rotation.
1. Rowing Machine
Yes, I'm talking about that piece of equipment you avoid in the gym because you aren't totally sure what to do once you get on it. It's only weird at first, and once you get the hang of it, it can be an incredibility efficient workout. It also looks a lot more innocent than it is... don't let the lack of a moving track fool you, this thing will kick your butt if you do it right!
Workout: 2,000 meters
You can break this up many different ways using however many intervals you want, but here are 3 good ones:
4 rounds - 500 meters each round, rest 30-90 seconds in-between each. A good time to aim for is about 2 minutes for each round and work towards maintaining that time each 500 meter stretch. You can also start with longer rest periods and decrease them each week until you hit 30 seconds.
2 rounds - 1,000 meters each round, rest for 2-3 minutes in-between. Aim to keep each round between 4-5 minutes, the last 500 meters is tough!
1 round - 2,000 meters, take a nap afterwards. Doing the whole 2,000 meters in one go is tough, and if you can get this to under 9 minutes you are a rockstar! The key on this long one is definitely pacing, don't blow all of your energy on the first 500 meters.
You can rotate these each week and keep track of your times to see how they improve. Be sure to consciously engage your core and use your legs!
2. Stair Master
This machine is highly underrated, and I don't know why people don't use it more often. It's way lower impact than running, so if you have knee pain this is great alternative, and it will certainly get your heart rate up and leave you in a sweaty mess.
Workout: 100 floors
This may vary depending on differences in machines, but you get the idea. As with the rower you can mix this up in many different ways, but these are a good starting spot.
100 floors - as fast as you can, aim to get this done in under 18 minutes. If you are one of those weird cardio people who can just push, push, push, this may feel easy to you, if that's the case, aim for 15 minutes!
100 floors, facing 4 different directions - for this one pick a medium speed that is sustainable but not easy, and rotate the direction you are facing every 25 floors. So initially you will face the front, then on floor 25, turn to the right and walk sideways, then to the back, then to the left. Start at a slower speed to make sure you've got the hang of it, but the different body positions will challenge different muscles.
20 minutes - as many floors as possible. This is a good one to measure your progress over time as your cardio capacity improves.
Like the rower, these are good to rotate in once a week and record your times and floors to track how it improves over time. It's also a good bench-marker to help you get back on track if you've been slacking a little in the cardio or consistency department (I am guilty of this at the moment. Moving seems to derail everything, but knowing what I've done in the past gives me something to aim for).
No, I'm not talking about the kind you take down snow-covered mountains (although that can also be a great workout!), I'm talking about the kind you load up with plates and push around. Not all gyms will have these, but if yours does, USE THEM. As an alternative you can also use 2-3 45 lb plates on a towel that you push across a studio floor (#1).
These are a great conditioning and fat burning tool because they are full body, involve weight, and call for endurance. Tack any of these onto the end of a lighter workout day.
Push - 50 meters (with lighter weight), 50 meter sprint, 5 rounds, 60 seconds rest. Push sled as quickly as possible to one end, then sprint back to the other end, walk it back and rest, repeat!
Push/Pull (medium weight) - 50 meters, 5 rounds, 30 seconds rest in-between rounds. Load up the sled (fairly heavy, start with 1 45 pound plate to see how that feels), push sled one direction as quickly as you can, and pull it back (alternating arms), then rest.
Push (heavy weight, like real heavy) - 50 meters, 5 rounds, 2 minutes rest. Load up the sled heavy (as a bench-mark Kate Upton can push over 500 pounds on a sled...) and push as fast as you can, rest at the end, repeat! It will be slow, and it will feel like you are going in slow motion, but that's OK, it's heavy!
If you are new to sleds, use lighter weight to get used to how it feels. Keep your core engaged, maintain a flat back, and keep your chest up. This is such a great alternative to 45 minutes of mindless running on the treadmill!