Our Favorite Non-Machine Cardio Options

Cardiovascular exercise, at it’s core, is centered around the health of your heart. An activity or exercise is considered “cardio activity” once your heart rate has been elevated for more than five minutes.

At the gym, the main cardio machines that come to mind are: the treadmill, elliptical, upright/recumbent bike, stair climber, and the rower. Now let’s take a step back from these machines to run through a few of our favorite non-machine cardio options!

1. Tabata Training

Tabata is a time training method that can be applied to any exercise! Traditionally, it consists of eight sets of an exercise for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest before repeating the process.

Pick two relatively strenuous exercises to alternate between for at least two rounds of eight. Each round is four minutes, so you can do as many as you’d like to achieve.

Exercise examples include:

  • Jump squats
  • Bicycles
  • Burpees
  • Push-ups
  • Jumping jacks
  • Mountain climbers
  • Lateral shuffles
  • Flutter kicks
  • Walking lunges
  • Lateral jumps

My favorite: a mixture of burpees and jumping jacks. Add your own and see how creative you can get!

See more: Cardio Workout: Total Body Tabata

2. Zumba or Any Cardio Group Class

Zumba popularity is at an all-time high and still rising – for good reason. Aside from being a blast with great people and awesome music, Zumba sneaks in an hour of cardio, all while working every joint, tendon, and ligament in your body that you would never do anywhere else.

If Zumba isn’t your thing, then give cardio kickboxing or HIIT-X a try!

3. Jump Rope

Before you disregard this as a “yeah, right…” take these words of advice soundly; nobody starts out jumping rope like a champ. Sure, it comes easier to some and harder to others, but there isn’t a single soul who has ever picked up a jump rope and automatically Muhammad Ali’d it like they were born doing it. Like anything, practice makes perfect.

Don’t concern yourself with needing to do 30 minutes either… five minutes here and there goes a LONG way! Use it in some Tabata style training perhaps?

4. Running

The wonderful thing about running is you can run almost anywhere. The BEST thing about running: No matter what anyone says it takes to be a “runner,” all you have to do is try. Whether you’re running a 20-minute mile or 5-minute mile, as long as your heart rate is up, then you’re RUNNING!

And remember: like anything, if you run consistently, you’ll get better. That’s a promise – a PINKY PROMISE!

5. Circuit Training

Circuit training is an awesome way to mix your cardio AND resistance training for maximum workout efficiency! Try this Endurance Circuit Workout or this TRX Workout to get started! And the best part? It can be done with as many friends as you can gather!

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Josh is a massive weight loser. A journey that started when he was very young and battling depression, eating disorders, and bullies. His life’s mission is to always have an arm outstretched to those who are looking for a helping hand. He leads with the most important tools he has: heart and soul.