Master Coach at the Australian Institute of Fitness, Brodie Hicks knows that while our bodies were designed to run, some people think it deserves a special place in hell. For all the anti-runners out there, your alternatives await.
Often when we think of cardiovascular exercise, we think of running. We as humans are built to move, and, in particular, we are built to run. So it comes as no surprise that running is one of, if not the most, popular cardio exercise there is. Of course, one of the major benefits of running is the mass amount of calories that can be burned within a single session.
However, running is also incredibly divisive – people tend to either love it or hate it! This may come down to differing genetics, or simply because of our natural tendency to want to find the easiest way from point A to B, and running is HARD.
No two people are created the same, so while some of us may find running a naturally rewarding and stimulating activity, others will find it an absolute punishment! And that’s ok!
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Of course, exercise should be hard – however, it should also be rewarding. If an exercise is hard (which running most definitely is) but not rewarding, then the task becomes even more difficult to sustain.
The good news is that other types of exercise can elicit similar bodily responses to those created by running, whilst not subjecting us to hours of running on a road or treadmill.. So for all you running haters out there, here are three alternative training types to help you achieve similar results without pounding the pavement.
Interval training is a fantastic way to boost the amount of calories burned within a session, whilst also often exercising in a fun, engaging, social and supportive environment.
If you find you don’t like running because it is not mentally stimulating or because it’s isolating, then interval training may be a good option for you.
Interval training is typically characterised by a number of different cardiovascular exercises, resistance training exercises, or a combination of both, organised within a session to be completed at high intensity one after the other with periods of rest in between. Think F45, Barry’s Bootcamp, Orange Theory and most crosstrain and cardio classes at Fitness First and other similar big gyms.
Interval training is hard work, as it should be – however, it can be an extremely engaging way to train. Additionally, if you feel you work best by going hard and fast for a short amount of time followed by some rest, interval training will suit you to a tee!
The other benefit to interval training over running is that you’ll often smash a wider variety of muscle groups. This means better overall muscle toning, building and strengthening – as well as a bigger range of exercises which, for many people, keeps the sessions fresh and stimulating.
The benefits of weight training for weight loss, caloric expenditure and improved quality of life cannot be overstated!
Whilst weight training does not burn as many calories compared to running within a single session, it does engage a process called protein synthesis in order to build more muscle, which is one of the most energy consuming processes in the body.
This means that you will burn more calories when at rest – cool, right? In addition, building more muscle will also result in more calories burned throughout the day as skeletal muscle has a higher metabolic rate than that of fat tissue.
This makes weight training a significant bang-for-buck type of training over a sustained period of time.
Off-feet conditioning relates to cardiovascular exercises that aren’t as tough on the legs.
If running results in sore joints, tendons, or maybe even shin splints, then off-feet conditioning may be the right fit for you.
Equipment such as spin bikes, row ergometers, elliptical trainers, or even assault bikes and ski ergometers (for the serious enthusiasts) can be great alternatives to running. Sessions can be designed to stimulate calorie burn comparable to that of a running session (i.e. 30-mins as moderate intensity, or interval repetitions) – however, the additional lower limb load is avoided!
Brodie Hicks is a Master Coach at the Australian Institute of Fitness. Brodie is the director of his own strength and conditioning business and is extremely passionate about coaching the next wave of personal trainers and ensuring the continual elevation of standards within the fitness industry.