Ah cardio, my arch nemesis, we meet again! You help me tone up so well, burn off my accumulated stress, and are oh so good for my health… but we also know you can be a little bit boring and tricky to do without the traditional expensive equipment. Or at least, that’s what a lot of people think! But that’s why I’m here. As a frugal fitness guru, and cardiovascular training expert, it’s my job to prove otherwise!
OK so let’s say you don’t have a fully stocked gym with your pick of shiny new treadmills, ellipticals, bikes, row machines, stairclimbers, or other big pieces. Are you out of luck on your quest for cardiovascular improvement? Not at all! While all the previously mentioned machines are very useful, you can still get a highly effective cardio workout with minimal or no equipment required!
The possibilities are pretty much endless, but I’ll go over some of the most important options and most effective training tactics. First off, and most obviously, you can always run. I don’t want to hear any excuses, you can run anywhere, anytime, and in any conditions. I’ve gone for runs in 10 degree weather, 100 degree weather, in the middle of nowhere, in the most congested metropolises in the world, and any other weather from rain, snow, sleet, or tropical storm winds. Just go out and do it. If you can’t run, then start by walking. If you want to get more out of your walk or transition to running, through in some 30 second jogging intervals every few minutes or so. As you get in better shape, and you will, you can continue to add in more and/or longer jogging intervals until your walks become predominantly jogs! Same goes for biking but obviously with a few more limitations. For walking, running, or biking, make sure to vary your routes including hills, terrain, speeds, and distances to mix things up physically and mentally. Moving on, stairs are also always great options for cardio workouts. Doing stair sprints is very efficient and intense cardio, and you can do plenty variations of walking, running, up on your toes, lateral stepups, stairs with weights or weighted vests, and pretty much anything else you can think of! There are dozens of other low cost pieces of cardio or endurance modalities that you can do to take your endurance and fat-burning to the next level. These include options like jump ropes, speed bags, heavy bags, BOSU balls, micro stairclimbers, hurdles, agility ladders, and a plethora of additional possibilities! There are zero cost options utilizing just your bodyweight such as calisthenics, footwork drills, dynamic warmups, jumping jacks, frog jumps, mountain climbers, butt kickers, burpees, and anything that keeps you moving and your heart rate up. Honestly, nearly any traditional resistance training exercises can become cardio if performed at a fast pace with high repetitions and short or nonexistent breaks between sets. If you have a body (even with injuries or non-functioning limbs), you’ve got a cardio workout ready to rock.
I hope I’ve convinced you that it doesn’t matter what you have at your disposal, and that a high quality cardio workout is never out of reach. As long as you have the motivation, creativity, and know-how you will keep that heart, lungs, and midsection in tip top shape. Work out hard and work out smart my friends!
Here are a few of my Workout Tips for added inspiration…enjoy!