It's important to mention that if you're goal is to improve your body composition, then prioritizing strength training over cardio is your first task. If you do the opposite, it'll feel like you're pushing a boulder uphill.
Instead, put strength training at the top of your list to improve your body composition. By adding lean muscle mass, it'll ramp up your metabolism causing your body to use more energy throughout the day to sustain itself, supporting a healthy, lean and fit body.
Now, switching over to the topic of this post: cardio.
Unless your an endurance athlete, long repeated bouts of steady state cardio is unnecessary. But, it should also be noted that steady state cardio shouldn't be purged all together either. In fact, steady state cardio aids muscle recovery and supports an increase in capillary density which helps your muscles receive more oxygen - both critical for a healthier, better looking body. Doing 1-2 steady state session a week won't hurt anyone.
But for fat loss, sprint training is far superior to long steady state cardio sessions. Sprint training is the best "bang for your buck" type of cardio. It gives back considerably more in benefits compared to the effort (and time) required.
If you're still not sold on this idea, consider this study: Participants did either 20 weeks of steady state aerobic training or 15 weeks of sprint intervals. The sprint interval group lost nine times more body fat and 12 percent more visceral body-fat than the group who did steady state aerobic training.
Although sprint training is challenging due to the physiological and psychological stress, it's well worth the effort. Aside from improving body composition, sprint training influences a healthy metabolism and an optimal hormonal environment in your body for fat burning and muscle building.
You can certainly use the track or park to do sprint intervals by running. However, it seems as though a lot of people have an aversion to running. People hate running for some reason. If that's you, it's okay, there's hope.
What follows are five workouts that don't involve running, but still bring the intensity.
1. Assault air bike sprints
The Assault bike is a timeless tool for conditioning the body and the mind. Studies also support that using the Assault bike to improve aerobic capacity will do little harm to strength or muscle mass. Try this:
:20 seconds at 85-90%
:40 seconds easy pace/off
2. Kettlebell swings
I advise using the Russian swing. It's safer and a more natural movement pattern. Unless you are swinging a bell for sport, I see no need to swing the bell all the way up. I attended the kettlebell seminar with Jeff Martone a few years back. If you're fascinated with kettlebells, and want to make them integral part of your own training, I highly recommend you check his stuff out. For a kettlebell fat loss workout, try this:
EMOM (every minute on the minute) for 10 minutes:
Odd minutes: 15 kettlebell swings
Even minutes: 15 reverse crunches
3. Loaded Shuttle Carries
Ever wonder why strongman competitors are typically leaner than powerlifters? Loaded carries are one of those reasons.
Simple, effective and intense, the loaded carry is unique in that it requires strength and aerobic capacity to complete - a cocktail perfect for fat loss.
Set up two cones or markers 25 yards apart. You'll start at one end with your object - in the video demo I use dumbbells. Then, you'll load your object and travel back and forth between markers four times - a total of 100 yards.
Perform three to five total sets allowing for total recovery between each round.
4. The Goblet Push Ladder
In this workout, I take two simple, but effective movements and combined them for a potent fat loss training session.
The ladder method is how you'll perform this session. For beginners, a 10-1 ladder on the goblet squat and a 1-10 reverse ladder on the deficit push up is a good starting point. For advanced trainees, using a 20-1 to 1-20 rep scheme will suffice.
Here's the flow: You'll do 10 goblet squats, then one deficit push up. Then you'll do nine goblet squats and then two deficit push ups. You'll continue all the way until you've arrived and completed all reps required.
5. One-arm dumbbell complex
Similar to the loaded shuttle carry, this one-arm dumbbell complex requires both strength and aerobic capacity to complete. If you're tight on time, this complex is a solid choice for a quick, effective fat loss workout.
Complete as many reps in the sequence below in two minutes. Perform five sets with sixty seconds of rest between each round. The sequence follows:
Two push presses
Once you've completed the sequence on one-arm, switch to the other arm and repeat.
Fat loss workouts don't have to be dull. The five we just went through prove that with minimal equipment and about 20 minutes, you can shake things up and still get amazing results - all without running.