When it comes to cardiovascular exercise, most of us think of running (either outside or on a treadmill), riding a bike at a steady pace, or hitting the Elliptical machine. While these will produce results, there are many other fantastic ways to improve your cardiovascular system. Here are four alternative ways to do cardio that produce great results.
INTERVAL TRAINING: Airdyne Bike
Doing more work in less time, at a high intensity has been shown to produce some amazing improvements in fat loss and increased conditioning. My favorite way to perform interval training is the Airdyne bike. It takes minimal technique and has minimal impact on the joints and maximum impact on the metabolic system. If you are an injured runner, this is a great alternative.
The Workout: Perform six to 12 rounds of 30 seconds hard, and then rest 30 seconds easy and repeat.
MODERATE INTENSITY CARDIO: Concept 2 Rower
To optimally improve your overall aerobic base, you also need some moderate-intensity cardio. What I mean by moderate-intensity is that you are moving at a pace where you will be increasing your heart rate significantly, breaking a good sweat, and maybe being able to talk to your friend rowing or running next to you. You can use many modalities, such as running, biking, swimming, and stair climbing.
This kind of cardio helps you recover faster between workouts, between sets of high-intensity exercise, and even reps.
The Concept 2 Rower is a great cardiovascular tool that is easier on the body than jogging
and works the upper and lower body muscles simultaneously.
The Workout: Start out by performing a 2000 meter row. Work up to 5000 meters by adding 200-500 meters each workout, depending on your fitness level. Keep your heart rate up, but if you can’t speak a sentence here and there, you are going a little too hard.
POWER OUTPUT CARDIO: Kettlebell Swing
Not all cardiovascular training has to be done with a cardio piece of equipment, running, biking, or swimming. The kettlebell swing is your all-in-one power-producing, hip and core strengthening, fat loss, and cardio output exercise. Studies have shown that the kettlebell swing can be just as effective at improving your VO2 max as running. The extra benefit: it has minimal impact on the joints. This is another great alternative for injured runners and cyclists, and as a cross-training tool. You also can do this with minimal space, one bell, and anywhere.
The Workout: Start by swinging the bell for 20 seconds and then resting for 40 seconds for five rounds. Increase rounds until you reach 15 rounds.
LOADED CARRY CARDIO: The sled
In a previous article, I explained how beneficial carrying weight in different fashions could be for your work capacity, core strength, and many other physical attributes. While those can produce some great cardiovascular benefits, the sled is a whole new ballgame. Pushing a sled with little-to-heavy weight can be very taxing on the cardiovascular system. You simply load the weight on the sled and push. Keep the body tight and keep good posture. A certain level of strength is also needed to do this correctly, making it even more demanding.
The workout: Start with a load that you can push continuously without slowing down for 20-30 yards. Start with five sets while resting one minute between sets. Once you start to get better conditioned, add weight and sets.