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Alternative Cardio Exercises

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Authored by Andy Chasse’ in Exercise
Published on 07-17-2009

Let’s face it – running gets old. Biking gets old. The elliptical gets old very quickly. Many folks out there seem to feel this way, too. Surely there must be some alternative cardio exercises? There are, in fact, a great deal of different exercises to get your heart and lungs pumping harder than ever.

Traditional cardiovascular activity is often pictured as in-gym machine use. These machines include the stair climber, treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike, and all of the other “revolutionary” contraptions the fitness industry is churning out. Unfortunately, these machines feel too much like work. The gym is often considered a sanctuary of sorts – a place to get away from work. How can you get away from work while performing work? You can’t! It’s time to start thinking outside the box to escape the dullness of the typical cardiovascular workout. Keep reading as I introduce three alternative cardio exercises that will have you sweating more and breathing harder than any machine may hope to!

1) Sled drags. Most high school athletes out there know a little about these beauties. Wanna feel like a dog for an hour or two? Grab a sled, throw some weight onto it, and harness up to that sucker! Sled dragging is one of the most brutal conditioning exercises one can perform. You won’t just feel it in your lungs, or your heart, or your legs. Your entire body will burn with hatred during and after a few sets with a heavy sled. When beginning sled work, it is crucial to start off slowly. Begin with a low number of sets, repetitions, and weight. Work up to the big numbers.

2) Sledgehammer swings. Similar to sled drags, sledgehammer swings send the entire body into a state of destruction. While the sled drags may be considered lower body specific, the swings are definitely their upper body equivalent. To perform the swings, you must first find an old tire. This tire will serve as the target. While other objects may be used, tires are optimal because of their durability. Understand that you will be slamming this object full force with a real sledgehammer – so choose wisely. There are three types of swings that you will work with:

  • Right arm swings. The sledge will begin over the right shoulder with the right hand nearest the head.
  • Left arm swings. The sledge will begin over the left shoulder with the left hand nearest the head.
  • Overhead swings. Both hands will grip the very bottom portion of the handle. The swing will come “over the head” and straight down in front of the body.

Alternate use of these three different swings. For instance, perform a 20 second set of right arm swings, a 20 second set of left arm swings, and then a 20 second set of overhead swings. Rest for 60 seconds and give it another go.

3) Jump rope. Relive those wonderful grade school days and skip some rope. Believe it or not, skipping rope is a great calorie burner that rivals most other cardiovascular activity. Perform fast skips and slow skips. Vary your jumping patterns and spice the routine up with some double-unders and criss-crosses. Skipping rope is a fun alternative cardio exercise that allows for a large amount of variation.

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