7 Things To Do Instead of the Elliptical For Cardio

Walk in to most commercial gyms, what do you see? Lines, and lines of ellipticals, treadmills, and other cardio machines. On those machines you usually see a bunch of zoned out people, rocking out to Katy Perry, while watching Dr. Oz. What’s wrong with that? Well a bunch of shit, but here are just a few things:

Most cardio machines are horrible for your body. Like take for example the pounding your knees take on the treadmill, or how on an elliptical you never get full knee extension so your hamstrings get tighter then a guitar string, causing low back pain and other nagging injuries.

How about your intensity? Jogging on a treadmill for 40 minutes at 5.0 or hills sprints for 15 minutes? Which one is better for you? Well, some could argue the treadmill, but judging how you feel after 15 minutes of hill sprints, I would go with the sprints.

Enough jibber jabbing, here are 7 things to do instead of the elliptical for cardio:

Jump Rope: Have you jumped rope since elementary school? If not, you might forget how challenging it is. Try doing 30 second intervals, then resting for 1 minute. You can build up from there. This is great cardio, inexpensive, and portable. So, you should have no excuse.

Sled Pushes: No, I’m not talking like dog sleds. I’m talking about the sled you should find in any good gym. Push that thing as fast as you can. Rest. Repeat. This is a total body motion, that is not only sports applicable, but great cardio for anyone. Try doing 10 sets of 25 yard pushes. Puke bucket anyone?

Hill Sprints: I mentioned hill sprints in a previous blog on increasing your speed found here. They are so awesome, I have to mention them again. Find a steep ass hill, then run up it as fast as you can. Walk down, and repeat. Holy Leg Burn!

Stair/Bleacher Runs: Very similar concept to hill sprinting, with similar burn. However, this takes a tad more concentration so you don’t introduce your pretty little face to a metal bleacher.

Shuttle Runs: These sometimes are called “suicides.” Although they are overused in my opinion by many coaches, they are a great anaerobic conditioner. I typically will prescribe  a 300 yard shuttle, or 25 yards down and back 6 times. Run on a treadmill for 1 minute, now the next day do your 300 yard shuttle in 1 minute. Yeah, I told you so.

Strongman Circuit: Although not right for everyone. There is no better way to get your heart rate up then a strongman circuit. Things like tire flips, sledge-hammer hits, farmers carries, and sled drags will challenge you to your max!

Barbell Complex: Grab a barbell. Throw 100lbs on it. “Doug, 100lbs!? Come on man I can bench 500, squat 600, and deadlift a house. Well, at least that’s what I tell my friends on Facebook.” Try a barbell complex, and watch the heart rate soar through the roof.

Here is an example:

  • Hang Clean
  • Barbell Back Squat
  • Barbell Shoulder Press
  • Barbell Front Squat
  • Barbell Bentover Row
  • Deadlift

Complete 8 reps of each, then go right to the next exercise. After completion, put the bar down, grab water, and repeat. Try to last 4-5 rounds before grabbing the nearest trash barrel and filling it with your lunch from 2 hours ago.

My goal here is not to hate on people who do cardio on machines. Hey, any type of movement is better than sitting on the couch eating chips. However, what I want to show you is there are more options than a $5000 piece of equipment.










About Spurling Training Systems

At Spurling Training Systems, our focus is on providing a superior athletic conditioning experience. The combination of expert training, time spent understanding your specific goals and customized program development is what makes Spurling Training Systems a unique and effective training experience for athletes of all ages, levels and abilities. Doug is the founder and owner of Spurling Training Systems. He graduated from University of New England with a Bachelor of Science in Applied Exercise Science. He has several years of experience as both a personal trainer for general fitness and a strength and conditioning coach for athletes. His certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) include Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and Certified Personal Trainer (CPT).
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