Gym-based cardio can be a grind, even for the most dedicated gym-girl.
Thankfully there are a few tried and trusted ways to beat the boredom, even for those hour-long steady state cardio sessions on the treadmill or stationary bike.
1. Get an app
The gamification of fitness means that the world of interactive training is never more than a click away. A whole host of apps cater to those who want to add an extra dimension to their training, be it an immersive gaming experience like the app Zombies, Run!
An app like Interval Runcan also act as a companion and coach during your treadmill sessions as it delivers vocal queues and feedback to guide you through an interval exercise session, be it a Tabata session, a Couch to 5K programme, or an hour-long session.
The Ghost Run app is another option as it lets you race against yourself by beating previous bests or setting goals that you need to achieve.
2. Become a virtual competitor
Take your competitive streak to the next level and race your friends, wherever they may be. Virtual competition apps like Cardio Smackdown let you challenge others to a simultaneous, real-time workout, be it on a treadmill or the elliptical. During this virtual workout, competitors can see their opponent’s progress alongside that of their own on their device’s screen.
In a similar vein, there are many ways in which you can compete against friends or family in the virtual world. One simply has to set a benchmark time, upload it to apps like Nike+and invite your virtual rivals to try to beat it. Most apps are also enabled with virtual encouragement via social media so you can hear words of support or cheering while you pound it out on the treadmill.
3. Think outside the box
Don’t limit your options to the conventional cardio machines at your local gym. Try any of the following for an effective cardio sesh…
Skipping is an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise that provides a similar workout to running and the intensity can be varied to suit your needs. It works both the upper and lower body, and improves co-ordination and balance. There are also a variety of techniques to the standard skip.
High-intensity weight training (HIWT) is also a great option when you want to benefit from the cardiovascular and calorie-busting effects of traditional cardio training, but without the monotony. Dumbbell and barbell complexes, bodyweight Tabatas, or metabolic conditioning circuits with a host of equipment options, from battling ropes and sled sprints to kettlebells are all great options that deliver an effective cardio and weight combo.
Get into the group vibe for a fun and social way to get in a high-intensity cardio-based workout. A 30-minute spin session, bootcamp session, step or aerobics class will be just as effective as 30 minutes on the stationary bicycle, if not more so, and a lot more enjoyable. You may also meet a few like-minded people and make some new friends too.
Author: Pedro van Gaalen
When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.