Alternative Cardio Solutions

I ran into a couple of friends last night at the gym. One of them has an injury and is looking to lose a few pounds and can’t do impact types of exercise for cardio. Since this is pretty much pushed everywhere we sometimes can forget some basic and very effective exercises and tools that will not only help us along, but won’t injure or exacerbate injuries. This post is for you and see you again soon! I always recommend investing in some kind of basic monitor so you actually know how hard, physiologically, you are working. Never really have been a huge fan of RPE for most people but it can be a great supplemental tool for sure!

One of the best ways to get anything out of any exercise is to have great body awareness and muscle/strength balance. Being able to control your limbs, your midline to protect your spine from injury, especially when your injury is your back, is gold. This will help you to still push forward and work hard but you will have the bracing and breathing down plus have the ability to “stop” muscles from taking over others putting you in not-so-great positions.

My all time favourite cardio work is definitely anything combat or martial arts related and I know there is a bag at this gym so this is a great option. Focusing on more speed based work than power punches and kicks, going a few 3-5 minute rounds on the bag will help to work your cardio endurance. Technique will always help to prevent injury or pain (in anything really) but for fat loss and “cardio” just keep it to more pep than power.

Sometimes moving slower can actually be great for challenging cardio without increasing chance of injury. The stepmill is great but for many, there is either not full range being used or they can’t move safely to get their heart rate where it needs to be. This is where adding a weighted vest, or add make your own with a loaded backpack, and do slower stepping. You will be moving slower but the extra weight will add load for your body to carry and thus increase your heart and muscles requirement to do work 😉 A great way to do intervals with this while minimizing injury aggravation (rest to work ration will vary for each person based on fitness level and goals) is to simply do some time with the vest/bag and some time without it.

Fast-paced yet CONTROLLED weights and bodyweight movements are a great option. Using full-body compound moves or ones that emphasize lower body are ideal as these are most challenging. Move immediately from one exercise to the next and perform as a circuit things like farmers walks/carries, lunge variations, rope pulls, battlerope drills, medicine ball slam variations, prowler pushes, sled drags, step ups, thrusters and so on. There are of course the more obvious choices like using the airdyne and spinners, and yes, even the elliptical or treadmill on an incline can do.

The key thing is to push yourself but to do it in a safe and controlled manner at YOUR own level and pace. You also need to just mix up the planes of motion (very simply, don’t just move forwards, move back, side to side, rotationally and so on) as well as switching up the type of exercises to help prevent overuse injuries, prevent adaptation, which is something you do not want when it comes to general health/fitness/”cardio” fat loss goals. There are ALWAYS ways to stay active, reach your goals despite any setbacks 🙂

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