Monday, 11 February 2019
What types of cardio do I enjoy more than running?
The answer to the above question is anything.
Really. I really, really dislike running.
But to be a little more helpful, here are a few of the ways I get my heart rate up when I am not resistance training.
Boxing is an amazing workout. Kickboxing is awesome too. They both provide great cardio benefits and will challenge you mentally too. You don't have to get in the ring to get the benefits either. Working a heavy bag is great if you don't have anyone to train with (once you learn how to strike safely of course so you don't injure yourself). If you have a training partner who can hold focus mitts that's great too. Even shadowboxing can be a good workout for beginners and it is a great warm-up once you have got some experience working the different strikes and your footwork. My advice would be to join a class or hire a trainer who can work with you and teach you how to strike safely.
Rowing is tough. It is a full body cardio challenge. Added to this is that most rowing machines come with computers so you can get great information out of your workouts. They provide details such as speed over 500 metres, power output in watts, strokes per minute, and more. This means that you can compare workouts and challenge yourself. They often come with preset distance challenges also such as a 5000 metre challenge which I love to do as a monthly or six-weekly gauge of my progress. Just strap in, start the challenge and see how fast you can finish. Great for those of us with a competitive streak.
This one ties in nicely with boxing as you often will do both in a session as skipping is a good warm-up for boxing. If you're anything like me, the first time you do a proper boxing session you will find that your calves are sore the next day from holding the fighting stance. Skipping is a great way to build up the calves, and the legs in general. It also has a decent cardio element to it. You'll quickly find out how strong your cardio is once you're asked to skip for 5 minutes non-stop. It requires coordination too, and is a great example of how our brains start to lose focus as we tire - skipping gets harder mentally as you fatigue.
Intervals are my favourite type of cardio workout. They're not an exercise but rather a way of structuring your cardio. You can actually include all of the above exercises into a great cardio circuit workout, or you can add other exercises and perform them in an interval style. I personally like to choose 5-8 whole body exercises and then perform them with set rest and work times. I would say for someone starting their fitness journey start with 30 seconds work followed by 30 seconds rest then move to the next exercise. Resting for 60 seconds once you have worked through your list of exercises once, then do it 3-5 times.
Here's an example of a 30:30 circuit using some of the cardio exercises above and some full-body bodyweight exercises too. Always do a proper warm-up before and cool-down after a circuit:
1: Skipping for 30 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds
2: Push-ups for 30 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds
3: Bodyweight Squats for 30 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds
4: Pull-ups or bodyweight rows for 30 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds
5: Plank for 30 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds
6: Shadow boxing for 30 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds
7: Rowing machine for 30 seconds at high intensity.
Rest for 60 seconds, then repeat for a total of 3-5 rounds
The above is obviously just an example of what you could do, but there are nearly infinite ways to build a circuit. Once you are feeling fitter, you can raise the work time and lower the rest or raise both the work and rest times. If you have a heart rate monitor you can also do variable rest times based on your heart rate, but that is a different topic for a separate blog post.
Do you use intervals in your training? What is your favourite way to use them? Let me know through my website. I'd love to hear what you get up to.