10 Workouts That Are Way Better Than Cardio

If the treadmill, the exercise bike or the elliptical machine are all you ever touch at the gym… you may not like what you’re about to read. Of course, any exercise is better than no exercise. So, if you truly enjoy steady state cardio and can’t picture yourself doing anything else then, by all means, stick to what you love.

However, if you want to get the best results from the time you spend working out… steady state cardio isn’t the answer.

Here are 10 workouts that will give you much better results in much less time than spending hours upon hours on the treadmill, stationary bike or elliptical machine:

kettlebell training

woman with kettlebell

There’s nothing that will get your heart pounding like high repetition kettlebell swings and snatches or clean & presses. Kettlebells are an amazing fitness tool that help you build strength and stamina simultaneously.

The sheer amount of exercises you can do with just one kettlebell make it an extremely cost effective piece of equipment and prevent your workouts from ever becoming boring.

The combination of grind exercises (like presses, Turkish get-ups, rows and squats) and ballistic exercises (like swings, snatches and cleans) make for a well rounded workout. Personally I also use kettlebells instead of dumbbells and barbells for my ‘F4X‘ workouts.

Kettlebells are also a great option if you want to workout from home. They hardly take up any space and you only need one or two of them for a great total-body workout.

Jumping rope

Jumping rope is an amazing metabolic exercise. An added benefit is that it’s done with one of the cheapest pieces of equipment available. You can easily workout from home or pack your jump rope so you can get your exercise in while traveling.

Not only does jumping rope burn a lot of calories fast and create amazing stamina… it also helps build coordination and a great mind-body connection. There’s a reason that every world class boxer uses this exercise!

Once you get skilled at it you can try speed jumping, crossovers, and double jumps.

Bodyweight training

Want to workout from anywhere without the need for any equipment whatsoever? Then bodyweight training is probably the perfect fit for you.

There are so many different bodyweight exercises, like squats, push ups, lunges, jumps, mountain climbers, pull-ups, chin-ups, planks… and the list goes on and on. This makes it extremely easy to bring variety into your workouts and prevent your body from adapting and becoming lazy.

Bodyweight exercises are also easily combined into HIIT workouts. HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training is one of the most effective ways to burn fat fast.

Bodyweight training is another example of great mind-body connection and the development of functional strength and movement. It’s a much more metabolic type of training than treadmills and ellipticals. For some great workouts using some truly unique bodyweight exercises check out Bodyweight Burn from bodyweight expert Adam Steer or the Curveball Effect program from fitness professional Katie Harney.


Compare the chiseled, powerful bodies of world class sprinters to that of the physique of the typical marathon runner. Sprint intervals are a great way to tone your body and get some fresh air in the process.

You could do something like 50 yards, 60 yards, 70 yards, 80 yards, 90 yards, 100 yards sprints. Rest for about 40-60 second between sprints and then repeat.

Hill sprinting

This is yet another great exercise for a chiseled and powerful body! The added gravity of going up hill makes this type of sprinting more intense than regular sprints.

Try doing 30 yard sprints up a steep hill and then walking down and repeating the process as many times as you can for between 20-30 minutes. This makes for an amazing interval type workout.

Shadow boxing

It may look a bit strange, but shadowboxing is an awesome workout. And you can practice it anywhere without the need for any additional equipment.

Shadowboxing is an exercise where you fight an imaginary opponent. It’s used a lot in the training for combat sports, especially, as you might have guessed, in boxing.

It’s a high intensity workout that can also be used as a form of interval training.

Dumbbell circuits

Like kettlebell training this is a super metabolic type of workout. It involves alternating between various full-body, multi-joint (compound) exercises to get an amazing fat-burning workout in minimal time.

A good example of a dumbbell circuit would be alternating between dumbbell lunges, overhead presses, step ups, bent over rows, and squat presses all with minimal rest between.

Rowing (machine)

If you are going to spend your workout on one machine, you might might want to consider making it the rowing machine! You can’t really lump this in with other “cardio” machines like treadmills and ellipticals. The rowing machine is actually a great full body workout that uses resistance.

The best results come from using variable speeds and really pulling hard to challenge your body. This makes it kind of like interval sprinting… only now using your whole body instead of just your legs.

Sprint style swimming workouts

This is much more metabolic workout than steady state long distance swimming. It is the same concept as sprinting vs jogging… only in a pool instead.

The great thing about sprint style swimming is that the water provides resistance without over-stressing your joints. This also makes it a great high intensity exercise for older people.

Heavy bag workout

Punching and kicking a heavy bag is another great form of training. And it’s so much more interesting (not to mention satifying) than those boring cardio machines.

Heavy bag training is another good example of exercises that require an intense mind-body connection, something that is missing in boring cardio equipment. Heavy bag training is also a great form of stress relief.

Hopefully this article has given you some ideas on how you can get away from that boring treadmill or elliptical trainer and make your workouts more effective… not to mention fun!

Getting the best possible result from your workouts is all about intensity levels, as well as your mind-body connection (being focused on what you’re doing).

Related workout programs:

The Curve-Ball Effect Total Body Program
The Curve-Ball Effect Total Body review
This program teaches short but extremely effective fat burning and body sculpting body-weight workouts that last only 10-20 minutes. They are ideal for anyone who has a busy life or who doesn’t want to spend a lot of money on expensive exercise equipment or gym memberships.

See our Curveball-Effect Total Body review

Old School New Body
The moderate weight/high fatigue workouts taught in Old School New Body are a great way to get rid of unwanted fat, tone your body and increase the production of anti-aging growth hormone.

See our Old School New Body review

20 Minute Body
How to get into the best shape of your life in just 20 minutes per day. 20 Minute Body Combines diverse, high intensity, bodyweight focused workouts with easy to follow meal plans for super fast results.

See our 20 Minute Body Review

10 Workouts that are way better than cardio. Want to get lean and toned? Get off the treadmill and try these instead.

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