Some days you need a day off from the weights or high rep calisthenics, but you may still feel like you need to work on cardio. Here is a fun mix of cardio events that I call the Kitchen Sink Cardio Day.
The goal is to do as many different cardio events in 20 minute sets using a variety of training protocols. Here are the most common options from easiest to hardest:
Walk – Get out and walk for 20 minute and loosen up along with a few sets of dynamic stretches like buttkickers, Frankenstein walks, side steps, etc…as needed. This is a great post-leg workout loosen up.
Jog – Easy paced jogging to continue the warmup with an intermediate level speed (8 minute mile pace, maybe).
Bike Pyramid – Get on a LifeCycle type stationary bike and increase the resistance each minute for 20 minutes. Strive to keep the RPMs at 80-90. Once you fail to maintain that speed, start going down the pyramid until you reach 20 minutes total. (You can do the same with the Elliptical too.)
Elliptical or Bike Tabata Interval – You can pretty much do anything with this protocol of 20 second sprint, and 10 second easy. Some favorites are rowing, bike, elliptical at moderate resistance levels, but you can add this type of interval to running and swimming too. Usually we go for 5 minutes of 20/10 (fast/slow) then do a 2 minute easy recovery pace. Repeat that cycle 2 more times for a total of 21 minutes.
Rowing – Tabatas above are great for rowing, but another method to consider is the 2000m row test. See how fast it takes you to go 2000m. If you can get it in the same range as your mile run time, that’s a good goal. Repeat 2 times with a short rest for a 20-25 minute total workout.
Bike / Elliptical / Rower 100 calorie burnout – Something similar to the 2000m row is the 100 calorie burnout on other machines. The thing you have to do is max out the resistance, elevation, and speed (all your maxes) and go hard until you burn 100 calories. If you can beat your mile run time, you’ve put in a good effort.
Run / Sprint Intervals – Mix in some speed work for 50-100 yards with equal distance slow jog or walks for recovery – how far do you get in 20 minutes? Or, if you can only run on a treadmill, try 30 second fast and 30 second slow for 20 minutes.
Swimming – Hypoxic (skip breathing, not breath holding) Intervals. Do 1000-1500m of 100m sets of freestyle swimming breathing every 6-10 strokes (arm pulls). After every 100m, stop to tread 1 min with no hands or swim an easy 50m of any stroke (side, back, normal breathing). How many of these 100m sets can you get in 20 minutes?
Running – Mile Repeats. How many miles or half miles can you get in 20 minutes with a little bit of rest (as needed) in between each set?
Rucking – 50 pound backpack or weight vest. How far do you get in 20 minutes?
Depending on how much time you have, you can do several of these. Most people have time for 2-3, but if you want to push your cardio, do as many as you can.
Stew Smith works as a presenter / editorial board with the Tactical Strength and Conditioning program of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). There are also over 800 articles on Military.com Fitness Forum focusing on a variety of fitness, nutritional, and tactical issues military members face throughout their career.