There’s nothing wrong with climbing on to the treadmill, plugging in your headphones, and firing up the hamster wheel. And the same goes for riding a stationary bike. You can join the pedal power team in a spin class or cycle in front of the TV at home.
Using a treadmill or riding a stationary bike are both excellent forms of cardiovascular exercise to burn calories and fat and give your heart, lungs, and muscles a workout. And if you’re managing to do that on a regular basis, you’re already a fitness anomaly compared to the general population.
But if you’re like most people, there’s bound to be a day when one more workout on the bike or treadmill will seem like a death march to boredom. It’s one reason less than 48 percent of adults in the U.S. get the minimal amount of recommended cardiovascular exercise per week (30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise on at least three days), according to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But boredom doesn’t have to derail your efforts to stay in shape. If you’re tired of the same old boring cardio routines, it’s time to change things up and jumpstart your workout routine with some bad-to-the-bone, heart-pumping exercises.
#1 Mountain Climbers – Just Like Climbing Peaks, But on Your Carpet
No this isn’t a training protocol recommended to people aiming to climb Mount Everest. But this simple exercise will accelerate your heart rate and make you huff and puff just like you were making your way to the top of the world’s largest mountain.
- Get in a kneeling push-up position on the ground.
- Rise up on one leg like you’re in the starting blocks on a track.
- Keep your arms straight and palms down.
- Quickly bring your back leg forward, while moving your front leg backward to the kneeling position, kind of like…you guessed it…climbing a mountain.
- Go as fast as you can for 30 seconds to a minute. Then rest and repeat.
#2 Burpees – They Only Feel Like They Will Kill You…
Even if you’re a badass strong enough to compete in one of those obstacle course Spartan Warrior events, there’s a catch that humbles even the most grizzled competitors. If they fail to successfully navigate an obstacle, they have to complete 30 Burpees before advancing. This exercise was named after American psychologist Dr. Royal H. Burpee who must have been a bit of a masochist. This exercise is not for the faint of heart, but it’s just what the doctor ordered if you’re trying to change up your cardio routine.
- Start in a squatting position.
- Place your hands on the ground, palms down.
- Kick your legs out and back, so you’re in push-up position.
- Kick your legs back to the squatting position.
- Then raise your arms above your head and jump as high as you can.
- Go ahead and try for 30 to achieve Spartan Warrior status, but chances are pretty good you’ll need to work up to that first.
#3 High Knees – Get Those Knees Up Soldier
In the old military movies when you see well-dressed soldiers marching to the sounds of snare drums, flutes, and bugles, it looks kind of cool. But turn that military protocol into a workout exercise, and marching your way through a workout on high speed will make your treadmill seem like a joyride.
- Stand in front of a mirror (recommended).
- Practice marching, raising your knees to about waist-high, alternating with each leg.
- Once you’re comfortable with the technique, do it as fast as you can.
- Aim for 30 seconds to a minute. Then rest and repeat.
# 4 Jacked-Up Jumping Jacks – The Old School Butt Kicker
This old-school exercise still offers a solid cardiovascular workout. And if you turn it into a high-speed exercise, you’ll no doubt feel the burn. But you’ll probably have a hard time beating David Dargay. He holds the record for completing the most jumping jacks during a replay of the famous Rocky Balboa fight song, “Eye of the Tiger.” If you’re planning to try, you’ve got to do more than 295 jumping jacks during the 3-minute 45-second song.
- Find a place with ample room to extend your arms horizontally and vertically.
- To begin the exercise, stand up straight with your arms at your side.
- Quickly extend your arms out horizontally, then raise them over your head.
- At the same time, shift your legs from being close together to spread apart.
- With your hands above your head and legs spread, return to the starting position and repeat.
- Go ahead and try to beat the jumping jack world record with “Eye of the Tiger” cranked up.
Turn these four cardio exercises into a complete workout, and you’ll be gasping for breath and drenched in your own sweat. You’ll burn more calories in a 30 minute circuit of these cardiovascular exercises than you will on your default pace for your treadmill or stationary bike.