Cardio…oh, the dreaded cardio. That thing about 99% of us hate doing, but know we have to do at least a little bit of in order to achieve optimal levels of leanness, cardiovascular health, and even longevity.

Personally, I hate cardio. Detest it. Cringe at the thought. And try to avoid it as much as possible by adding in drop sets and as many supersets as I can. The only time I throw in cardio is after I’ve exhausted all other options.

So, before we get started, I’d just like to note I didn’t title this article Cardio That Doesn’t Suck for a good reason: because all cardio sucks. Some just suck less than others (for various reasons). 

I’ll go over some forms of cardio that aren’t boring. These types have been thoroughly vetted by scientific experts (in the field of what’s boring and what’s thrilling), and are perfect for anyone who also needs a challenge in order to stay motivated.

We will also jump into some forms of cardio you can implement no matter what your desired level of challenge is, so make sure to read to the end!

Jump Rope for Exciting Fat Loss

Whether you come from a background of competitive double jump during recess or idolized Rocky, there’s no denying that jump rope is amongst the pinnacle of cardio exercises. 

One of the best parts about the jump rope is that you’re constantly learning. You’re constantly being challenged as you start learning new jump rope exercises and skills. This beats a monotonous elliptical ride or a boring treadmill session any day of the week.

To start off, try with a slower pace, and speed it up as you go along, adding new moves to the jump rope arsenal as you improve (and shred down).

Boxing Heavy Punching Bag

We all have some repressed issues that could be worked out. The heavy punching bag is a fantastic option; about one hundred times better than bottling them up, (arguably) a thousand times better than drowning in a pint of ice cream, and (inarguably) a gazillion times better than running on a treadmill.  

If you’re new to bag training, try to go to a class to get the basics down, or start with a beginner’s style workout to decrease any chances of injury. Start by standing with your feet shoulder width apart and legs staggered. Here is a sample workout that’s sure to get you sweating and working.

Perform Three Rounds of the following circuit

  • 10 straight punches (alternating) to 1 pushup
  • 20 straight punches (alternating) to 2 push-ups
  • 30 straight punches (alternating) to 3 push-ups
  • 40 straight punches (alternating) to 4 push-ups
  • 50 straight punches (alternating) to 5 push-ups

Battle Ropes

Battle Rope Exercises are done using those thick coils of rope you’ve probably seen lying around your gym. Often near turf if your gym has that.

Not only are these an extremely effective way to burn fat, they’re also exceptional when it comes to strengthening the core muscles, shredding up your deltoids (shoulders), and really…just developing strength in all areas of the body.

Personally, I think they’re most powerful (or excruciating at least) when performed as a finishing HIIT session directly after a shoulder or press workout. Try out this simple routine next press day. And I apologize in advance if you can’t properly drive afterward.

To integrate weights in a super set fashion try:

  • DB Lateral Raises (3 x 12-20) super set with 20-30 seconds Little Chops (also know as Alternating Waves)
  • DB Standing DB Military (3 x 12-20) super set with Rope Slams (3 x 5-10)
  • DB Reverse Fly (3 x 12-20) super set with Rope Circles

For a circuit of its own, perform 5 rounds (60 seconds rest in between):

  • 30 seconds Alternating Waves
  • 30 seconds Rope Slams
  • 30 seconds Rope Circles

Three Types of Cardio (that can be a bit easier)

The aforementioned forms of cardio are difficult, and amazing. However, they can be a bit above some people’s level of fitness. In this section, I’ll go over three more types of cardio that can be a bit more universal.

Walking 

Look, there’s a reason walking gets prescribed to geriatrics for improving health and wellness. It’s low-impact, can be done with ease (and anywhere), helps clear the mind, can lower cortisol levels, doesn’t take any toll on the CNS (central nervous system), and oh, it works for fat loss too. 

Contrary to what some might tell you, burning fat doesn’t need to include breaking into a sweat. Try adding in a 20-30 minute walk a few times a week. Explore a new neighborhood, find an easy trail around a lake, or just stroll to the grocery store to pick up a healthy snack. 

Hiking

In general, hiking is a solid form of cardio. What makes it even better is that you can put it on your Bumble profile and people will assume you’re really outdoorsy and down to earth. 

Check out apps or sites like alltrails and they’ll provide you with plenty of options within your area. It helps if you live somewhere with lots of pretty scenery around, obviously.

Swimming

Hands down one of my favorite types of cardio, swimming is a way to drown out the noise of everyday life, work muscles you probably don’t work any other time, and it accelerates your quest toward being a proud naturist. 

For those who want something more meditative and less aggressive, one method I’ve always enjoyed is swimming a mile. Most lap pools are 50 meters, so it will require about 32.2 laps, but I do 33. Not because I’m an overachiever, but because I like splitting it up into triplets. 

I’ll do two laps Front Crawl (Freestyle) then the third lap will be whatever I feel like doing. Usually one of the following:

  • Back Stroke
  • Breast Stroke
  • Walking a lap (okay, this isn’t swimming, but I just enjoy being in the pool and it’s kind of like a rest lap)
  • Grabbing a kick board and just kicking my way through a lap (this is a slower swim, but it’s also good for practicing your kicks)  

If you want something truly challenging, and more like the HIIT you’re accustomed to, then here are two other options.

Lap sprints. Using a Freestyle Stroke, swim either 50-100 meters as fast as you can. Rest 1-2 minutes, then repeat. Do this about 6-10 times. It might not seem like much when you’re in the pool, but afterward, you will likely feel smoked. 

And if that’s not enough, try this for some stellar fat burning and abdominal training cardio:

  • 50 meters Freestyle Sprint
  • Ab Bicycles
  • Planks
  • Side Planks (each side)
  • Flutter Kicks 

Honorable Mentions

The following activities can be considered cardio. They accelerate heart rate, aren’t boring (subjectively speaking), and can propel you closer toward your fat loss goals.

  • Beat Saber: for those of you who have a VR headset, this game is challenging and a blast)
  • VR Boxing: Again, only if you have a VR headset, but I’ve got a client who can only lift twice a week because the nearest gym to him is an hour away. He’s been doing VR Boxing as his cardio three times a week on his off days, following the meal plan, and even without much gym time, has still seen pretty incredible weight loss results.
  • Kettlebell Swings: Try for a Tabata type workout, supersetting these with squats, push-ups, lunges, and if you have the technique down, cleans.
  • Hill Sprints: Hands down one of the only types of cardio I legitimately enjoy, simply find a hill and sprint up it as fast as you can. It’s difficult to say how many times to perform the sprints given that hills vary in length and incline, but shoot for around 10-20 sprints with 30-60 seconds of rest between. If you have a friend who will do the sprints with you, this can be a fun day of competition. Loser (overall) supplies the Buck Feed Whey Protein Post-Workout shake.
  • Sex: The other form of cardio I thoroughly enjoy. This isn’t a sex-how-to article though, so we’ll just leave it at this: have more consensual sex with your partner(s)
  • Sled Work: A totally brutal workout that makes you look like a bad ass. Superset them with some heavy squats or walking lunges for a solid combo of hypertrophy, power, and endurance. Or throw them in with your Battle Rope circuit.
  • Climbing: Not exactly cardio, but it will for sure break a sweat, and help you achieve that physique you want while also being fun as hell.
  • Sports with Friends: My personal favorite is Volleyball, because the risk of injury isn’t super high, but the downside is that if you’re playing against people who are afraid of the ball then you probably won’t get a very good volley going, and therefore can’t really call it cardio. And, on the flip side, if your teammates truly suck, then you’ll get a shit ton of sand sprints in.
  • Longboarding: Go exploring on a longboard. There’s nothing not incredibly enjoyable about this particular activity. It might not always require much cardiovascular endurance on your part unless you are repeating one hill, but it’s definitely fun and it gets you out and about.

Summary

What matters most about performing cardio is doing something you can actually stick to, so feel free to explore a wide variety of aerobic activities and see which ones you respond best to (and don’t hate too much).

It might take time, but your cardiovascular endurance will increase, and in turn, so will your physique.

And, luckily, if you’re impatient with the physique aesthetics goals (fat loss), then we have plenty of supplements to help accelerate those fat loss goals on the site. Head on over now!

Logan Peterson

Logan Peterson is an avid writer and an unprofessional, non-competitive bodybuilder. Logan has several degrees, all of which he made up to sound more credible (for obvious reasons, Legal said he can’t list them). In truth, he simply has an insatiable curiosity. After eleven years of obsessive research, he knows too much about fitness, nutrition, and supplementation for his own good. Despite all appearances, he’s fiercely nerdy. Outside of fitness, his passions are reading and writing; his genre interests run the gamut from litrpg to satire. Due to ADHD, he’s currently working on several novels, and will likely publish all of them at once. And yes, he wrote his own bio...in third person.

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