If you’re looking for a cardio workout that goes beyond a long-winded jog on the treadmill, here are a few options to consider.
Circuit Training (all fitness levels)
Looking to tackle cardio while building muscle and strength? Circuit training is a great option. It's a workout based on a certain number of ‘stations’ to be completed in a set time. Typically, circuit training involves weights but you can also circuit train without weights. This makes it a valuable addition to every kind of training program, regardless of the goal. Simply pick 8-10 exercises, placing the leg-specific moves at the start of your workout, then do 10-15 reps for each move without rest between exercises. Repeat the circuit 3-4 times.
Group Fitness Classes (all fitness levels)
If you've been flying solo to the gym and are looking to shake things up, group fitness classes can be just what you need to get and stay motivated to workout. Bootcamps, kickboxing, spin and even CrossFit are awesome options, especially for beginners who could use the extra push from an instructor and the support of fellow classmates. No doubt, the camaraderie element in combination with the rewarding challenge of completing a prescribed workout is one of the reasons CrossFit and other community-driven fitness classes have been on the rise. Call up your friends and go take a class!
Interval Training (intermediate-advanced levels)
Interval training, often interchanged with High-Intensity Training (below), alternates between periods of work and rest. The main difference between standard interval training and high-intensity interval training is in the recovery periods. High-intensity intervals require you to almost stop all activity during your recovery whereas traditional intervals require an active recovery. For interval training, you’d keep walking or plodding along at a very low pace to ensure the blood gets to the working muscles to facilitate recovery. This accelerates the overall fitness benefits you’ll receive while also cutting down on the boredom that you may suffer if you were going at a single pace the entire workout.
High-Intensity Training (intermediate-advanced levels)
Time-saver, plateau buster
High-intensity training is shamelessly cruel. It has one aim: demolish every piece of energy you have, asap. Many people struggle to do this type of training properly because it actually requires an innate level of fitness and an intimate knowledge of your body’s and brain's limits. It requires you to go all-out for a very short time (think 100-meter sprints) then pull back to give your body three to four minutes to fully recover. With all the hype, beginners attempt this style of cardio training but most don't execute it properly. Given the physical and mental demands of this type of cardio, it’s best to do it if you have a decent base level of fitness and particularly sadistic training partner or coach at your side, because if you don’t feel like vomiting afterward then you’re probably not doing it right.