How to Spice Up Your Cardio

I’m a competitive endurance athlete so cardio is my bread & butter but when I’m off the bike, it is quite boring. Studies show that mixing weight training and cardio is better for your health than doing either of them alone, cardio can be quite boring and tedious. This is what I do to keep it interesting.

When I’m at the gym I tend to do a quick warm up and then hit the weights. Afterward, if I’m not going to be riding that day, I’ll do an hour of cardio. My trick is that I break the hour up between several different exercises. This does 2 things. First, it keeps me motivated and stimulated by switching movements every 10-15 minutes. 2nd, it keeps my intensity higher than if I just did any one exercise for the full 60 minutes. By switching muscle groups, I avoid that inevitable fatigue that sets in, lowering my pace/intensity.

Not only do I get bored a lot less, I burn more calories and get a better cross-training workout. Because I’m a cyclist that rides roughly 13,000 miles a year, getting some cross-training is essential. My cardio workout is called “The Hour of Power” and I’ve been doing some version of this in the gym for the past 3-4 years.

The Hour of Power

The Hour of Power always includes jumping rope (one of the best exercises anyone can do) and rowing. Then I’ll add in a little treadmill running (if available), stair stepper, air bike (the one with the fan and arm handles popular with crossfit) or hitting the heavy bag. The key is to keep the intensity pretty high, do each exercise for at least 10 min, usually maxing out at 15-20 min, and switching quickly. I don’t rest in between. You can rotate back to exercises if that’s what you want to do or that is all that is available. Recover from your workouts with Zenberry Greens!

boxer hitting the heavy bag for cardio
Working the heavy bag

Today, I did the hour with just 2 exercises repeated. Jump rope and rowing in 15 min sets until I hit the 60 minutes. The treadmill on that floor was broken and I forgot my boxing gloves so I made due. What a great workout, though I was getting a bit bored by the end. Mixing in one other movement would have been a bit better.

man jumping rope at a gym for cardio
Jumping rope burns more calories than running

Find the exercises you like and try mixing a bunch of them together to break up your cardio and keep it interesting. Again, it’s not to become an expert in that movement but to mix things up, hitting different muscle groups, stay entertained and burn some calories. I’ll never be a good rower but the movement is very helpful for a cyclist that spends 20 hours a week hunched over his handle bars. Jumping rope adds some much-needed impact for my skeleton (If you’re a swimmer, cyclist or rower, adding impact and weight bearing exercise is so beneficial).

I hope this simple technique helps. Thank you for reading.

Shane

female cyclist on bike overlooking a valley

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