Cardiovascular workouts are an essential part of any fitness program. But some people hear the word “cardio” and immediately go to sleep. It might conjure up thoughts of hours on the treadmill, which can be a total snoozefest for somes. While running is an effective workout that offers a ton of health benefits, it’s certainly not your only cardio option.
If you’re not into running, you’re in luck. When it comes to cardio, you have endless choices. Like what, you might be wondering? Read on to discover a few cardio workout alternatives to running.
In this blog, we’ll explore:
➤ Bodyweight training
➤ HIIT strength training
➤ Jumping jacks
➤ Jumping rope
➤ Kickboxing or boxing
What Is Cardio?
Cardiovascular exercises, also known as aerobic exercises, are routines that get your heart rate up for a prolonged period, making you pump blood faster. These are rhythmic activities that target the heart zone where you burn the most calories.
Doing cardio exercises keeps your heart and lungs healthy. What does that mean exactly for the body? Your blood vessels expand, delivering more oxygen to your muscles and enabling the release of natural painkillers called endorphins. You’ll also experience a rush of “anti-depressants”— a.k.a. dopamine and serotonin. This is what gives you that workout “high,” post-training. Cardio enables your respiratory system to work harder, too, allowing you to breathe faster and deeper. Furthermore, you’re going to trigger an increase in antioxidants, which decreases inflammation (a common cause of pain and illness). Plain and simple, cardio makes you feel good.
Fun fact: Just about anything can be made into cardio — even lifting weights! Imagine how you might feel performing 12 sets of a deadlift at a lighter weight. You’re going to be out of breath. Your heart’s going to be pounding. We’d certainly call that cardio.
What Are the Benefits of Cardio?
Cardio provides numerous physical and mental health benefits
. The benefits of cardio
include the following:
➤ Burning fat and calories, making it easier to manage your weight
➤ Greater energy throughout the day
➤ Enhanced sleep quality
➤ Expanding the amount of air that your lungs can hold
➤ Improving your ability to cope with stress
➤ Improving your mood
➤ Boosting testosterone and fighting erectile dysfunction
➤ Reducing anxiety and depression
➤ Reducing the risk of cardiovascular illnesses like cancer, diabetes, heart attack, and high cholesterol
➤ Reducing the risk of many cancers
➤ Promoting brain health as you age and fighting diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia
➤ Improved range of motion
➤ Better joint health and
➤ Reducing the symptoms related to nearly every chronic disease, like fibromyalgia and autoimmune diseases (lupus, arthritis, etc.)
With cardiovascular exercises, you get a lot of bang for your buck. It’s great for your mental and physical health. Furthermore, the benefits translate to other things you’ll do in the gym. Improving your body’s cardiovascular endurance has so many advantages, both short- and long-term.
The Best Aerobic Exercises To Try
Want to kick up your cardio without needing to hit the pavement? Below are six aerobic exercises you can try as alternatives to running.
1. Bodyweight Training
Bodyweight training means that you perform exercises with nothing but resistance from your own body.
recommend about 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activities or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic routines per week. These activities help improve your coordination, endurance, and flexibility. They also shape and strengthen different muscle groups.
Bodyweight exercises can include lunges, box jumps, hops/jumps, burpees, and squats/jump squats. Because you’re not using any additional weight, you’re going to want to perform more reps. For example, try three sets of 15 jump squats, or three sets of 10 burpees. If you’re out of breath after each set, then you’re on the right track. Bodyweight training might not look all that grueling, but looks can be deceiving. (Don’t believe us? Try doing a single pull-up and see how hard it is to lift your own weight!)
Cycling is an effective aerobic workout that puts less stress on your joints. It offers numerous benefits
, such as helping burn calories and body fat while also strengthening the heart and lungs. It can build muscle in the lower body
, as well. This means that cycling is effective for both cardiovascular and
Cycling can be either stationary or outdoors. Also, try experimenting with the resistance of your bike. A higher resistance means that you’re going to have to pedal harder, while a lower resistance means that you’ll be pedaling faster. Both offer unique benefits.
You can perform cycling as steady-state cardio — which requires steady, consistent effort — or as sprints, meaning you do it for fast, short bursts, with rest in between. This could be considered HIIT, which brings us to…
3. HIIT Strength Training
HIIT (high-intensity interval training) involves short bursts of intense exercise with short recovery periods in between. Typically, it lasts from 10 to 30 minutes per session, although this can vary depending on the specific exercises you include.
What sets HIIT apart is that since it’s vigorous training with limited rest, it’s going to speed up your heart rate. This can equate to significant calories burned. In fact, studies have shown you can lose 450 calories from 30 minutes of HIIT training. But the benefits go beyond that. A lot of athletes love HIIT because it’s a simple way to do a lot of work in a short amount of time. Sure, it’s brutal, but that’s why it’s so effective!
You can make a HIIT workout with just about any exercise. What matters most is how you do it: short spurts of exercise with brief rest in between. You can include biking, jumping rope, planks, sprinting, squats, butt kicks, burpees, high knees, kettlebell squat jumps, and the list goes on.
A common type of HIIT is the tabata workout. With tabatas, you do eight rounds of 20 seconds of exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest. Don’t underestimate this! It’s quick but spicy.
4. Jumping Jacks
Jumping jacks are an efficient total-body cardio workout. As plyometric training, jumping jacks are a mix of aerobic exercise and resistance work. It targets your abdomen, glutes, hips, quadriceps, and shoulder muscles. It also works your heart and lungs at the same time.
Doing jumping jacks for about 10 minutes broken into smaller spurts can burn about 95 calories. It helps you raise your heart rate, gain strength and agility, manage weight, and reduce blood pressure and bad cholesterol
Jumping jacks are a great addition to your HIIT workouts, as well as circuit training.
5. Jumping Rope
You might’ve done this more as a kid, but jumping rope is good for adults, too. What makes jumping rope so powerful is that it requires you to constantly move and stay on your toes.
Plus, it has countless variations and ways to up the intensity. Starting as a beginner? Focus on single skips. When you’ve got those down, try your hand at double-unders (and maybe even triple-unders). Swap your speed rope out for a weighted rope and feel the burn. You can mix up your footwork, hop on one leg, or alternate feet. There are infinite possibilities.
Jumping rope helps with total body strengthening, improved bone density, increased agility and coordination, and enhanced balance. This exercise can help you burn 15 to 20 calories per minute
, or up to 200 to 300 calories for 15 minutes of workout. Be sure to warm up and stretch your calves and hamstring, first. You will be sore
the next day!
6. Kickboxing or Boxing
Kickboxing is a fitness workout that combines martial arts techniques with fast-paced cardio. Often, it uses interval training, which involves peaking your output for anywhere from 30 seconds to a couple of minutes, and then resting. Boxing, on the other hand, is a combat sport that involves fighting with your fists while wearing gloves and other protective equipment.
These aerobic exercises help improve heart health, aid in weight loss, and boost full-body strength. They also improve balance and agility, decrease stress, and lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Like jumping rope, kickboxing and boxing have you constantly on your toes, moving, jumping, and staying light and springy.
Getting Started with Tempo
So, you can see that when it comes to your cardio training, running is merely the tip of the iceberg. If your goal is to get your heart and lungs working, there are a million and one ways to do it. But having so many options can feel like a double-edged sword.Where do you even begin?
Tempo is an all-in-one smart home gym system. We offer over 2,000 (and growing!) virtual interactive workouts
, tailored just for you, to help you reach your peak physical fitness. We have live and on-demand workouts for boxing, cardio, HIIT, and beyond. With both Tempo Studio
and Tempo Move
, our elite coaches are available to guide and motivate you throughout your workout. And the best part is that you can choose from training options to suit your goals and schedule.
If cardio is what you’re after, you’re going to especially love how Tempo tracks and monitors heart rate zones and clearly displays the most important metrics. Since intensity is key to getting results with cardio, we also give you a weekly HR intensity minute goal.
Remember, cardio workouts don’t always involve running. And you don’t need a gym membership or rows of machines to achieve your goals. There are plenty of options available to you that don’t even require you to step outside your front door.
With Tempo, you get to do the best cardio workout alternatives right from the comfort of your home. Our AI-powered smart home gym provides real-time feedback on your form and progress, so you can achieve the results you want, faster. Train hard. Train safe. Train with Tempo. Get moving with Tempo
to get started on your fitness journey today.