Let’s be honest for a second- when it comes to your list of weekly activities, cardio doesn’t usually rank high up as one of your favourite things to do.

In fact, if you’re like most women, it’s often something you dread.

The monotony of dragging yourself into the gym after a long day of work is bad enough- but what really hurts is realizing that doing endless hours on the treadmill or stationary bike isn’t moving you towards your fat loss goals as quickly as you’d hoped.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

In today’s post, we’re going to give you the tools to break away from your weekly cardio drudgery.  The following are three exercises and routines to help you not only blow through your fat loss plateau, but to add some fun and variety into your routine.

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

One of the most popular (and effective) forms of cardio, HIIT training is fantastic because not only will it allow you to burn a large number of calories, it will allow you to do it in a very short amount of time.

HIIT training differs from old school “steady state” cardio in the pace, intensity and duration.  Rather than simply jogging (or running, or swimming) at a moderate speed for 45 minutes, this style of training will have you cycle between periods of very high intensity training, and periods of low intensity recovery.

You can do this with most forms of cardio, but to illustrate how it works, let’s take running as an example.  A HIIT workout would have you cycling between an all-out sprint (as fast as you can run) for 30 seconds, followed by 1 minute of light jogging.

A simple HIIT sprint program might look like this-

 

Warm-up- 5 minutes (light jog)

Sprint- 30 seconds

Jog- 1 minute

Sprint- 30 seconds

Jog- 1 minute

Sprint- 30 seconds

Jog- 1 minute

Sprint- 30 seconds

Jog- 1 minute

Sprint- 30 seconds

Jog- 1 minute

Sprint- 30 seconds

Jog- 1 minute

Cool Down- 5 minutes (light jog)

 

Total Cardio Time- 19 Minutes

 

19 minutes of cardio may not seem like much, but rest assured, if you really are going all out on your sprints, it’s plenty.

 

Training this way has the advantage of burning a shocking amount of calories.  A good, hard 20 minute HIIT session can burn nearly 500 calories if done correctly.

Barbell Complex

Many women associate the barbell with “guy workouts”.  But when used correctly, this conventional piece of gym equipment can be used to burn a ton of fat.

A barbell complex involves taking a barbell and cycling through various compound exercises in rapid succession.

So, to give you an example of what this might look like- take your barbell, and load it up with a (relatively) light weight that you can do 28 repetitions with (this might take some experimentation, so don’t feel bad if you don’t get the weight right on your first try).

Then, perform these movements back-to-back-

 

Back Squat- 7 reps

Front Squat- 7 reps

Power Clean- 7 reps

Stiff-legged Deadlift- 7 reps

 

Rest one minute, and then repeat the process 4 or 5 more times.

This particular exercise takes a lot out of you (both from a cardio perspective and a weight training perspective) so make sure you take enough time to recover, and definitely make sure you stretch and warmup before hand.

A barbell complex will not only burn a similar amount of calories to HIIT training, but it will also kill two birds with one stone and help you tone up your muscles.

Kickboxing

Martial arts have come a long way, and the training gyms aren’t just for the boys anymore.

Kickboxing is a fantastic (and fun) way to not only burn a lot of calories, but also to burn off some frustration and learn some valuable self defence skills in the process.

And if you’re worried about walking into a gym and being thrown in the ring for a hard sparring session- don’t.  The vast majority of kickboxing gyms have come a long way over the last decade.

Rather than catering to a clientele of hardcore, committed fighters, most places now focus on a growing market of casual trainees who are just looking to get in shape and have some fun (and yes, that includes a growing female market).

As a kickboxing beginner, most of your time will be spend learning the basic techniques, hitting pads, and doing various calisthenics to build up your conditioning.  Estimates vary, but an hour of kickboxing can burn up to 800 extra calories- almost half the daily calorie intake of the average woman.

Cardio may be a necessary evil- but it doesn’t have to be boring.  By getting creative and cranking up the intensity, you can burn more fat, spend less time in the gym, and actually have a bit of fun with your routine.