The festive feasting is complete, the January exam season has passed, and now it’s time to really get back on track in the gym. You want to lean up for the summer, and the ‘dreadmill’ looms large on the horizon… or does it? Cardio doesn’t have to be the demon that keeps you awake at night. Here are some alternative training methods that don’t require a treadmill, exercise bike or rowing machine, and can prove just as effective.
Remember, weights and cardio are far from mutually exclusive; it’s all about how you train and what you want to get out of it. Training heavy in the three core powerlifting movements – squat, bench press and deadlift – will require a huge amount of calories, helping you to burn fat and build strength at the same time.
To shed fat while retaining muscle, aim for heavy sets of 3-5 reps. Bear in mind that you’ll be decreasing your calorie intake in order to lose weight. Therefore if your rep range is too great (say, 12-15 reps), you’re only going to break down muscle tissues without giving them the fuel to repair.
By the same token, be careful not to decrease your calorie intake too much. 100-200 calories below your maintenance requirement is a good starting point – if you don’t know yours, there are plenty of handy IIFYM calculators online which you can use for free. With this training style in particular, you’ll need to maintain a reasonable carb intake to perform to your best.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) A: Using weights
A well-known and popular approach to machine training. But, why do that when you can carry out HIIT with weights, right?
You can either focus on a single movement, or work in a circuit format. It really just depends on what you prefer and are likely to put the most effort into. As a general rule, sets should consist of around 30-60 seconds of maximum effort with 60-90 second rest in between.
For instance, as a single exercise you could try dumbbell thrusters. As weight movements go these are a great exercise for fat loss, as they incorporate your whole body. Choose a pair of dumbbells of a comfortable weight, holding them level with your shoulders. Complete a full squat, and without stopping explode into a shoulder press at the top. Aim for approximately ten sets.
For those who prefer circuits, here’s an example of a simple one bar routine using a barbell loaded up to 30kg (adjust weight accordingly – you want to be challenged without sacrificing quality of reps):
- Stiff leg deadlift x10
- Bent over row x10
- Overhead press x10
- Squat x10
Repeat this circuit five times, and I guarantee you’ll be gasping for air!
HIIT B: Bodyweight
A great option if you’re particularly short on time. Again, you can focus on either a single exercise or a circuit format. Personally, I would opt for the latter in this case, ensuring a full body workout.
Find a free spot on the multi gym in the Russell Seal Centre, and this circuit can be completed almost without moving:
- Chin ups x 5
- Wide grip pull ups x5
- Dips x 5
- Press ups (narrow) x5
- Press ups (wide) x5
Repeat 5-10 times depending on ability.
This one doesn’t need much explaining. Just throw on some gloves, and take to the punchbag! Similar to the HIIT circuits outlined above, you’ll want to train in short bursts of maximum effort with rests in between.
Highly recommended for those of you who still have exams and deadlines remaining and want to relieve some stress.
We’re blessed with a pretty well-stocked gym here at Exeter, so why not try something different? Battle ropes and medicine balls offer a huge variety of options, which I’m making it my New Years’ resolution to explore in full.
You don’t need to write off the exercise machines altogether just yet. However, using some of these alternatives you should be able to keep your workouts interesting and ensure you don’t fall off the wagon come the end of January.