For years, steady-state cardio has been a go-to mode of exercise among fitness enthusiasts to get and stay lean. The downside: Maintaining the same pace for extra-long sessions is time consuming and can get boring quickly. To mix things up (and keep things moving!), here are a few methods of cardio that will make the most of your gym time.
1. Supersets/Circuit Training
Supersets are a great way to turn a traditional weightlifting workout into an intense fat-burning and heart-pumping session. A superset can consist of two or more exercises performed in sequence with little to no rest in between. For example, let’s take a push-up, squat, shoulder press, bicep curl and tricep extension. The workout would be: Perform 10 each of push-ups immediately followed by 10 squats, then 10 shoulder presses, then bicep curls, then tricep extensions. That’s one set. Complete that three times, resting two to three minutes between sets (not exercises), then you make the call on whether it was cardio or not!
2. Kettlebell Swings
According to the Russian Kettlebell Club, a properly done kettlebell swing is, in addition to being great for your glutes, one of the best fat-burning exercises around. Try doing a set of kettlebell swings (minimum 20) after each set of a weightlifting exercises, or bang out three sets at the end of your workout. The extra burn might make that post-dinner cupcake seem a little less sinful.
3. Cardio Between Sets
Grab a jump rope and make friends with it, because this could be your greatest ally in the war against body fat. Just look at any boxer or mixed martial artist and it’s easy to see that jumping rope, a fundamental exercise in boxing and MMA, develops lean, mean fighting machines (in combination with traditional weight training). Try adding one minute of jumping rope on the end of every weightlifting set, and get ready to sweat your worries away.
4. Cardio “Rounds”
It’s common to get bored with the treadmill, elliptical and bike, but there is a secret to making them more fun: Do them for a short amount of time, one right after the other! For example, jump on the bike for a minute, then run for a minute, then use the elliptical for a minute. Bring things home with a minute-long row. Do this five times That’s 20 minutes of cardio that will only feel like 10!
5. Timed Weightlifting
Think you know how long 30 seconds is? Think again. For a little bit of discovery, choose any exercise (such as a bodyweight squat or lunge) and have a friend time you for 30 seconds, in which you perform as many reps of that exercise as possible. Every week, try to increase the amount of reps done in that same amount of time, or increase the duration of the set. That will get your heart beating fast!
6. Class Act
This one’s pretty simple: Take a kickboxing or Muay Thai class! One hour of Muay Thai (a martial art from Thailand that closely resembles kickboxing) can burn as many as 1,200 calories. The group setting can also keep motivation high and encourage athletes to work even harder than they might flying solo.
How many round trips do you take in the elevator each day? Try taking the stairs instead to get a little bit of cardio in throughout the day. For an added challenge, go two steps at a time while staying light on your feet. In a few weeks, you should notice that those stairs seem a whole lot easier than they did on Day 1.