Sick of slogging it out on the treadmill? Can’t face the monotony of another minute? Try these seven super cardio challenges to spice up your routine, fry that fat and boost your brain!
Not only is stair running a fantastic cardio challenge, but it enhances your proprioception abilities by having to concentrate on the stairs in front of you, all while avoiding collision with others around you! Improved proprioception makes you more coordinated and your movement patterns more economical. Stair running also improves knee and pelvic strength. Best of all, while you are pumping away, there’s no time to get bored.
These bodyweight exercises are a great way of getting your heart pumping. Also known as ‘planking’ they are full body integration exercises that require a lot of core strength. Bridges can be performed prone, lying on the side, facing the ceiling and whilst supporting added weights. To receive cardiovascular benefits for more than a few seconds, however, you would need to combine bridges with some other activities.
Some of you may have even witnessed your grandparents perform these little numbers! Burpees have remained in the exercise repertoire for so long because they work. They get your heart rate up, require 100% focus, lots of coordination and control. Briefly, burpees involve moving from a squat to a plank position, back to a squat, then jumping explosively in the air. Burpees are not an exercise for those wishing for a gentle workout, but if you want to challenge your body, burpees are worth remembering.
This exercise involves tall jumping from a squat position. That’s it. There’s not a lot of time out. Think of a pogo stick on Eveready batteries. This move will get your heart racing, but it’s important that you activate the glutes and remember to straighten your body up, rather than jump upwards with your body flexed forward. At the end of the day, if it is all too hard for you, you can always go back to the treadmill. It might just look a lot more attractive at this point! Okay, we’re joking – but maybe you only need to add a few of these to your routine to spice things up.
Stationary bicycle/elliptical trainer
Both stationary bicycle and elliptical trainers are great cardio staples. If the idea of going hard on just one of these is too much for you, why not experiment with working out on both? Both pieces of equipment will activate different muscles than those used on the treadmill, which will give your metabolism a boost. These workouts also get you sweating and your heart rate up – fast! Try just a 10 minute session on either bicycle or elliptical trainer, interspersed with one of the above activities, such as burpees or stair running.
Ashtanga yoga is looked upon as a more energetic, rigourous style of yoga. It follows a specific sequence of postures, so once you learn them it’s easy to keep moving and give yourself a cardio workout. It is a hot, sweaty, physically demanding practice, linking every movement to breath, always performing the same postures in the same order. For this reason, Ashtanga has benefits for those reluctant to try yoga – all the benefits of yoga, plus a great cardio workout. If you haven’t done so already, Ashtanga is worth exploring.
Zumba or hip-hop class
Most gyms have some variation of dance class offered at their group exercise facility. Whether it’s a Zumba, hip-hop, or Sh’Bam (yes, that’s right), as long as you don’t have two left feet, these classes can be a lot of fun. Guaranteed to raise your heart rate and get you sweating, you be surprised at how quickly the time passes and how good it feels to let off steam, shaking your booty on the gym floor!
Sage Institute of Fitness – is more than a job, it’s a rewarding career.
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