Top 5 Alternative Cardio Workouts

Top 5 Alternative Cardio WorkoutsSay “So Long!” To The Gym With These 5 Cardio Routine Shake-Ups

Sick of running and running, but never getting anywhere? Hop off the treadmill and take your cardio workout elsewhere. Sure, cardio machine workouts might get you the results you’re looking for, but let’s be honest, they’re far from the most exciting cardio exercise choice. Even dedicated gym rats like us get bored of the same-old same-old from time to time. The truth is that workout boredom can spell doom to your fitness routine like nothing else.

Remember that adults need to get a minimum of 90 minutes vigorous cardio or 120 minutes moderate cardio each and every week for health and fitness. If you want to lose weight, even more is better. That’s a lot of treadmill time.

Alternative cardio workouts help inject your workouts with a healthy dose of variety to keep both the mind and the body engaged. When you’re fully engaged in your workout and not tuned out due to boredom, you are more likely to push yourself to your limits instead of just going through the motions. And you know what that means: faster and better results!

So what are you waiting for? Check out these 5 Alternative Cardio Workouts and accelerate your quest to a healthier, more fit YOU.

Top 5 Alternative Cardio Workout Ideas

#1. Jump Rope

jump rope cardio workoutJumping rope is not only budget-friendly, but it also offers a cardiovascular challenge that’s hard to match. Not only does the playground activity you loved as a kid get your heart pumping in no time, it also forces you to keep your core engaged, works the calves and thighs, bolsters balance, and gives the metabolism a boost. Plus, it’s a whole lot of fun! To start out, try jumping with two feet for 1-2 minutes at a time, giving yourself a short 30 second break between sets. Repeat the 1-2 min on, 30 sec off pattern for several repetitions. Jump rope is also great to mix into your weight training circuit to keep your heart rate up and maximize your calorie burn. Mix it up by jumping on one foot (remember to switch feet each set), and once your confidence and skills increase, try some of those tricky double-unders for an extra challenge. In case you’re curious, jump rope drills fit right into the super-hot HIIT trend (high intensity interval training), which as you have probably heard, is a great choice for weight loss and rapid cardio fitness gains.

#2. Stair Climbing

stair climbing cardio workoutStair workouts can do wonders for your rear view. Many people focus on the butt-boosting aspect of stair climbing workouts, but another huge benefit is the powerful heart pump you’ll get going! As you’re toning and building those glutes and hamstrings, making your butt firmer and higher, you’ll get one of the best cardio workouts around. Whether you’re stepping up the bleachers at your local stadium or taking part in a step class, just 30 minutes of stair-climbing can burn more than 500 calories, making it an awesome cardio workout. Work at a pace that challenges you. That might mean walking the stairs or jogging them, or mixing walking/jogging the stairs up for some hot sweaty intervals. Give it a shot; your backside and your heart will thank you!

#3. Cardio Kickboxing

kickboxing cardio workoutFeeling tense? What better way to safely burn off a little steam than by sparring with an invisible foe? Kickboxing is an excellent alternative cardio workout because it combines heart-pumping action with strength-building movements. Working the upper back, arms, legs, and core, kickboxing is truly a total-body workout. Those with no kickboxing experience would do well to buy a kickboxing workout video or better yet, sign up for a class to get the basic mechanics down before venturing on their own. Correct form is especially important to get the most out of a kickboxing cardio workout, and moreover, make sure you don’t hurt yourself! After a few supervised sessions, you’ll be all set to bring this alternative cardio workout right to the living room for an anytime cardio session.

#4. Go for a Bike Ride

biking for cardioBike riding is a great alternative to typical cardio workouts because it’s easy to incorporate into everyday life, and it’s a lot of fun! Pedaling on a bike works both the lower body and the heart, without applying the impact that one would place on the knees during other cardio activities. An added bonus to bike riding is the obvious benefit to the environment (not to mention all the money you’ll save on gas). Although you should be stretching after every workout, it’s especially important to stretch after your bike riding workouts; focus on quads, hip flexors, hamstrings, and chest for 30 seconds in each area.

#5. Cardio Workout DVDs

cardio workout dvdsGone are the days of cheesy, low-production value, expensive home workout DVDs. You’ll be amazed at the choices out there these days in terms of workout DVDs: everything from HIIT to kickboxing to Zumba Fitness to cardio ballroom and burlesque. And many high-quality workout DVDs are surprisingly affordable. This is a perfect choice for someone who might be a little shy to bust out in a public place like a workout class…or if your schedule is just incompatible with local class offerings. Check out for a ton of different choices that bring exciting workout classes right to your living room any time of the day or night. Read the descriptions and customer reviews for a realistic idea of what each has to offer.

BONUS Alternative Cardio Workout Idea: Join a Sports League

There’s no better way to break a sweat than to take part in something that makes you forget that you’re working hard at all. Joining an adult sports team will take you out of the day to day routine and back to the playground days of your youth, help you make new friends, and get your heart pumping in the process. Check out your local YMCA or poke around on Facebook to find out where the action is at.

The Bottom Line

Just say no to all that clock-watching, mind-numbing workout boredom by mixing any or all of these alternative cardio workout ideas into your fitness plans. By incorporating a variety of workout types into your program, you will not only work a broader set of muscles; you’ll also keep your mind engaged and entertained, so that you’ll be more likely to get in those absolutely essential 90-120 minutes of cardio each and every week.

About Michael Behnken

Mike Behnken is a personal trainer who holds multiple NASM certifications and a MS in Exercise Science. Mike loves fitness, travel, and photography among many other interests.

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