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The Extra Mile – Cardio Workouts from Home

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Cardio is a great way to get in shape and keep up your fitness. Many use it to burn fat, tone, or keep up a good pulse. Whatever your reason, you have several options available to you at home to get a good cardio workout. The intent is to keep that heart rate up so you can feel good afterwards!

So, here are some good cardio workouts from home.

Road Marching/Backpacking in an Urban or Suburban Environment

This is how your workout with a backpack will look like 🙂

Isn’t that a military thing? Yep. Remember that hiking backpack you never use in your attic? Put that thing to use.

Road marching, if done properly, is one of the best cardio workouts to do. It can strengthen you’re overall endurance and fitness level. Being capable of carrying a load for distance helps you to realize that you always have one more step in you. The only easy step was the one you just took, so why not do all of those steps?

I do one road march each week ranging between 6-8 miles. I’ll usually do about a 13-minute per mile pace. If you want the Army infantry standard, that’s 15:00 per mile with 35 pounds in the backpack… That 35 pounds does not include water. So, you’ll have 35 pounds of stuff in your pack with a water source and you’re on your way.

I don’t recommend this for people with significant knee or back issues. That’ll put a large strain on those backs and knees. I know several Army folks who have these injuries from military life.

If you want to give this a shot, make sure to prepare yourself. Have a good set of boots, not shoes. You need ankle support with the weight from your pack and the terrain you’ll cover. Get some moleskin to prepare for blisters and hot spots. Select a route that’s pretty flat and even. Later, when you do more of these, you can change up the terrain for more hilly and off-road routes.

You’ll also want to take it really slowly If you’ve never done road marching before, you could get injured just from one march. Start off with less weight and fewer miles. Maybe start by doing two miles with 20 pounds and see how you feel.

If you’ve done several of these and you’re looking for a challenge, you can either increase distance, increase weight, or increase both. Make sure to listen to your body and not push yourself too much as you’re building up.

This is a great cardio exercise to track your progress. You have weight you’re carrying, distance you’re traveling, and how fast you can complete that distance with the weight you have. So, there are multiple variables you can track to keep yourself motivated. It doesn’t matter if you’re carrying 15 pounds for two miles and you do it in 45 minutes. That’s great! And, the best part is that is one more workout you just did than before.

 

Cardio Circuit

I find these especially helpful when I don’t have a lot of time, I’m at home with the kids, or if I want to test muscular endurance. Isn’t muscular endurance still strength training? Technically, yes. However, you’re testing to see how long your body can endure a physical load for as long as possible. Load doesn’t necessarily mean under weight, it can also mean duration of time. When you load your muscles, you’re putting stress on the parts of the body you’re working at the time, thus, putting them under load.

That’s what cardio circuits do. Great exercises for these are burpees, jump squats, burnout pushups, or lunges.

The thing to remember about a cardio circuit is that you have minimal to no rest when transitioning between exercises. If you do rest in between, then that becomes an anaerobic workout.

The difference between anaerobic and aerobic workout is the heart rate. Aerobic workouts maintain a higher sustained heart rate during the duration of the workout. That’s why running is an aerobic exercise. On the other hand, anaerobic workouts involve spiking the heart rate during exercise then letting it come down during rest. That’s why sports are great anaerobic workouts or sprint exercises.

So, find four or five tough exercises to do, put them in a set, and see how many sets you can do in 30 minutes. You’ll be surprised at how many you can do!

Running/Walking

This is the obvious one, but let’s talk about it.

You can do this the right way or the wrong way. Believe me, I did it the wrong way and I’ve been paying for it.

The right way to plan this out is to establish what your goal is. I talked about goals in my previous post, but it’ll have more meaning when you start your workout.

The way I started out was by doing too many miles too quickly. I was doing around 10 miles a week (pales in comparison to marathon runners), but I wasn’t paying attention to how I felt after my runs. I developed shin splints, a preventable running injury, that curbed my running for months. It was disappointing. Since then, I’ve monitored my miles. I don’t have to run as fast as I can on each run. In fact, it’s better that I don’t.

You can even walk or run on a treadmill. It’s a good way get in all of those episodes of your favorite show.

Sprints

Wasn’t this supposed to be about aerobic cardio exercises?! The answer is yes, but these are the best exercises you can do to help your fitness. Sprints doesn’t mean running either. It can mean swimming, biking, running, cardio circuits, rowing or any other cardio you do. See how fast you can accomplish a certain number of reps, sets, distance in a small amount of time. I have an example in my previous post.

Also, I do a lot of shuttle sprints. Those will challenge your ability to go as fast as you can for a short distance. I’ll usually set cones about 50 meters apart then I’ll run that 6 times where each rep I have to touch both cones. So, there and back is one for a total of 300 meters. My record is 67 seconds.

I have a love/hate relationship with sprints. But it burns so good!

Wrap it Up!

Those are some suggestions. I know it’s not the most creative list, but these will enhance your fitness and build some variety into your routines. If you lack inspiration, leave a comment below and let’s see where we can help you out. Thanks, Garage Gym Goers and I’ll see you next time!


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Bobby

4 Comments

  1. WoW! now that is what I call some serious workout – road marching with a weighted backpack.

    I am quite curious would a similar to same effect to be achieved with the use of weighted belt or weighted jacket?. I see those being more comfortable to march with or even break into a brisk jog than a bulky backpack.

    • Derek!
      That’s a great question. You can use those, absolutely! If folks are willing to invest in them, then those are a great way to get some more bang for your buck when it comes to cardio. It may be comparable when it comes to cardio. I’ve run with weighted vests before and they do add a level of difficulty to a run.
      I’m more thinking about things that people most likely already have. Chances are people have a backpack over a weighted vest.
      Either way, adding a weighted load during a cardio workout is a good way to get the most out of a session. It’s all about being careful and working up to that point though.

  2. Thanks for the great suggestions Bobby! I am just getting back into running but I lift almost every day. While I do cardio at the gym usually, I definitely prefer to do it outside, especially when it’s warm like it is now. One thing you discuss that I’ve always wanted to try is the road march. It’s always seemed like a great way to do cardio that’s both effective but not too hard on the body although you do mention it can be hard on the knees. I’d think that it should be a little easier on the hips and knees that running on the road like I do now, because that definitely beats me up. Would love to know more about road marching in a future post! Thanks again for the great suggestions.

    • Dan!
      Thank you for your comments! Road marching can be hard on the backs and knees if you’re doing too much with it. I’ve seen some guys try and go 8 miles with 55lbs when they haven’t even worked up to that incrementally. It’s just like running…not too many miles, not too fast, not too long until you get used to it. Then once you’re comfortable that’s when the effects start working well for you! I’ll do a post on road marching in the future for sure, and I’ll let you know. Thanks for commenting!

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