The Best Workouts for Anyone Who Hates Cardio (But Needs It)

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By Glamour

By Aly Teich, Glamour

You rarely hear anyone say, “I just love cardio!” But it’s a necessary evil for staying healthy, losing weight, and/or maintaining a healthy BMI (not to mention a whole host of heart benefits). How to deal? I’ve tested a gazillion workouts as part of my job, and I’ve found that the best way to squeeze cardio into your routine, especially if you loathe it, is to disguise it. If you’re having enough fun, you might not even realize how hard you’re working!

Part of my job involves trying new workouts, so I’ve tested out my fair share of cardio; some types have been enjoyable, but others have been downright brutal. I’ve found the best way to squeeze cardio into your routine, especially if you loathe it, is to disguise it: If you’re having enough fun, you might not even realize how hard you’re working.

Here, some cardio workouts that are way more fun than the treadmill:

Dance classes. I’m a big fan of cardio dance classes (Here in New York City, 305 Fitness, Body by Simone, Tracy Anderson Method, and AKT InMotion are super popular, and many offer DVDs or online streaming workouts). You can also take a class at your local dance studio (trust me, keeping up with the pros will have you breaking a sweat!) or just put on a killer playlist and freestyle it in your living room. Calorie burn varies based on your weight and how hard you work, but if you take an hour-long dance class, you can expect to burn several hundred calories.

HIIT. The beauty of high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, is that it elevates the heart rate quickly and allows your body to burn calories long after your sweat session. HIIT workouts do not need to include running or other typical “cardio” exercises to be effective (but heads up: they’re likely to include jumping jacks and burpees!). The short bursts of movements make your heart rate spike and contribute to the after-burn effect. If you don’t have a local gym offering these types of classes, create a HIIT workout yourself by completing a few short rounds of high-intensity moves (burpees, jumping jacks, high knee runs), with a very quick break in between each one. Here’s an example.

Rowing. This old-school workout might have you sitting the whole time, but it’s actually a great form of cardio because it can increase your heart rate just as much a treadmill or elliptical. Bonus: This high-intensity, no-impact machine is very easy on the joints. To get the max amount of cardio from this machine, make sure you have enough resistance to feel challenged, and don’t move at a leisurely pace: try to spring back quickly and avoid “sitting” at the front of the machine each time you come forward.

Weight lifting. Yes, you read that correctly! Numerous studies have proved that lifting heavy weights is a great way to get cardio. Even though you’re not running, jumping, or bouncing, the effort it takes to lift heavy weights gets your heart pumping. For example, doing shoulder presses with 5-pound weights might feel comfortable to you, but upgrading even just to an 8- or 10-pound set could make a huge difference (and is shown to burn more calories). In order to ensure you stay safe, ask a trainer at your gym to help you pick an appropriate weight, and always make sure to maintain the proper form–if you can’t do that with a heavier weight, go back to the lighter set and try doing more reps instead.

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