My Top 3 Alternatives to Running
Whether you’re new to running, recovering from an injury or just hate running, but need to train for a race, there are so many ways to freshen up your run training sessions.
Get inspired, think outside the box, have a look at my top 3 alternatives to running.
Cycling offers a great alternative to running as it produces less impact on the knees, but still gives you a great cardiovascular workout. In addition, using the gears or resistance on a stationary bike means that you can opt for a training session focused on strength using higher gears or resistance. Likewise, if you need to work on your endurance and stamina, try using mid-range gears or resistance for a longer session duration. Don’t forget to incorporate intervals into your session, which would consist of rounds of high intensity all-out efforts followed by a set rest time. Interval training is great for that EPOC effect (Exercise post oxygen consumption) which translates into burning more calories even after the training session.
An hour session on the bike could help you torch up to 500 calories (1).
Even though there may be less impact on the knees, the knees and pelvis function differently when cycling as opposed to running. In cycling you are seated with a fixed pelvis, this may not be so great for people suffering from back problems as you are bent forward.
Also, always get you bike set up to fit your body properly for harmonious bike biomechanics, not to mention help reducing injury, encouraging better technique and increasing comfort.
2. Vertical Climber
It may look slender and unassuming, but the vertical climber could give you one of the toughest workouts you’ve had. If you’re looking for an alternate way to improve your cardiovascular fitness and stamina, the vertical climber could be the one. Like cycling, it offers users a low impact training session. As it requires you to use your upper and lower body at the same time as well as push and pull, you recruit large numbers of muscles. Using these large groups of muscles means there’s nowhere to hide from this whole body training system. VersaClimber claims workouts burn more fat and calories in 15 minutes than treadmill, steppers and bikes (2).
Some machines offer users the option of training using a contra-lateral movement pattern, where opposite arms and legs approach each other on one side, while the other side separates and extends. This is also known as a natural gait pattern, which is also used in natural movement patterns such as crawling, walking and running.
This natural movement pattern also helps strengthen the muscles along the spine providing it with the support it needs for movement. So it could help benefits your runs too.
Don’t be scared if you are a beginner. Vertical climbers have many workouts for beginners to advanced athletes and even for injury rehabilitation too. Take it step by step.
Another seriously efficient way to boost your cardiovascular fitness is skipping.
If you’re looking to add a little diversity to your existing running routine, skipping could be a great idea. It can be quite a strenuous aerobic exercise with huge body toning benefits as well as improving your speed, coordination and agility. Ropes are available everywhere and they also come in a variety of different weights and lengths to suit your height and training requirements.
Training for more upper body toning and endurance, try longer skipping sessions with thicker slightly heavier ropes. Wanting to train for speed, try a lighter rope. These are also perfect for practicing power jumps like double unders, where the rope goes round twice in one jump. Like with both cycling and the vertical climber, interval training is a great addition to a skip session.
Changing up the rhythm or even skipping to the beat of music could be something to keep your attention.
Although you are putting stress on your knees, ankles and hips, with the correct technique it could be a lower impact option than jogging (3). Staying higher on your toes when jumping allows your calf muscles to act as shock absorbers. However, this does also mean that your calves will get a good workout, so make sure you have the proper supportive footwear you need to keep your body protected.
Play around with your footwork while skipping, high knees, lateral bounds, skiers, half jacks, double unders. All these variations will not only break up the monotony of skipping but will also force you to focus on coordination and agility.