No More Hamster Cardio!

I gotta' tell you, I hate doing cardio. There's nothing more boring to me than sitting on an exercise bike, going up and down on a Stairmaster, or running on a treadmill. I sometimes drive by a gym in Santa Monica and see dozens of people on the latest and greatest cardio machines, staring at the television and looking like caged hamsters running on treadmills. In addition to wondering how they can bear it, I always wonder why people in Santa Monica would choose to do cardio in a gym when they could run on the beach or in the woods and take advantage of the beautiful weather!

Fortunately, there are other options for those who are bored with traditional cardio routines and want more intensity and satisfaction out of their workouts. The alternative is what I call High Octane Cardio (HOC).

Hit the Road!

The 1st form of HOC I want to explain is called roadwork. A lot of boxers and mixed martial arts fighters still use this tried and true form of conditioning to prepare for fighting. It works several different energy systems in the same workout and it's not for the faint of heart!

Roadwork is basically a combination of jogging and calisthenics. Here's how it works: jog for about 100 yards and then drop and do fifty pushups. Get back up and run another 100 to 200 yards and then stop and do 100 bodyweight squats. Again, run another 100 to 200 yards and then drop and do 50 sit-ups. Believe me, this workout is a lot harder than it sounds and even if you're an experienced runner, you'll find it challenging.

Regardless, I found an even more effective way to maximize the benefits of roadwork. Take two dumbbells to a running track and place one dumbbell on each side of the track. Each time you jog past a dumbbell, stop and do an exercise. For example, you could stop and do ten one-arm dumbbell swings with each arm and then continue to run. When you get to the next dumbbell, stop and do ten clean and push presses. Then when you get to the next dumbbell, do ten dumbbell squats.

Once you've done four full laps you'll be exhausted. If you're not, then get a heavier dumbbell or run four more laps! In addition to building an incredible level of muscular endurance and mental toughness, you'll burn fat like crazy. In fact, if you need to burn fat as fast as possible, try doing roadwork three times a week for five weeks. You'll be amazed.

Beat the Bag!

The next form of HOC is a heavy bag and dumbbell combo. Kick and punch a heavy bag for one minute, take a one minute break, and then do an exercise such as one-arm dumbbell snatches. After you're done with that, do another one minute round on the heavy bag and repeat.

When you can do ten rounds of this routine, you'll be a lean, mean fighting machine! Doing an exercise such as dumbbell snatches in between each round will give new meaning to the phrase mental toughness. Try doing this combination one or two times per week to start. Work up to three times a week if you really want results as soon as possible.

Skip it!

Finally, the last form of High Octane Cardio involves a dumbbell and a jump rope. Try jump roping with ballistic weight lifting exercises between rounds. Jump rope for one minute and then do ten dumbbell clean and jerks. Jump rope for another minute and then stop and do ten dumbbell snatches and so forth until you've done ten rounds of both.

In addition to improving coordination, you'll get an incredible cardio workout that's way too hard to be boring. If you're like me and you suck at jump roping, work on it for a while by itself until you become fairly proficient. Once you feel confident, give the jump rope/dumbbell cocktail a shot. (By the way, for a great jump roping video, check out Buddy Lee's at www.jumpropeinstitute.com.)

Anti-Rodent Routines

Here are some sample programs to try out. If you're unfamiliar with any of the exercises listed below, just type the name of the exercise into the search engine and you'll find pics and full descriptions.

Roadwork

Beginner

  • 1st pass (of dumbbell):  10 one-arm dumbbell swings with each arm
  • 2nd pass:  50 sit-ups
  • 3rd pass:  10 one-arm clean and jerks with each arm
  • 4th pass:  50 bodyweight squats

Intermediate

  • 1st pass:  20 dumbbell snatches with each arm
  • 2nd pass:  100 bodyweight squats
  • 3rd pass:  15 clean and push presses with each arm
  • 4th pass:  50 sit-ups

Advanced

  • 1st pass:  10 one-arm dumbbell swings with each arm
  • 2nd pass:  50 sit-ups
  • 3rd pass:  10 one-arm clean and jerks with each arm
  • 4th pass:  50 pushups
  • 5th pass:  20 dumbbell snatches with each arm
  • 6th pass:  100 bodyweight squats
  • 7th pass:  15 clean and push presses with each arm
  • 8th pass:  50 sit-ups

Heavy Bag/Dumbbell Combo

Beginner

  • One minute heavy bag round
  • 10 one-arm dumbbell snatches with each arm
  • One minute heavy bag round
  • 50 sit-ups
  • One minute heavy bag round
  • 10 dumbbell swings
  • One minute heavy bag round
  • 50 bodyweight squats

Intermediate

  • Same as above, only extend the heavy bag rounds to two minutes.

Advanced

  • Same as above, only extend the heavy bag rounds to three minutes. You can also add reps to the other exercises.

Jump Rope/Dumbbell Cocktail

Beginner

  • One minute of rope jumping
  • 10 on-arm dumbbell snatches with each arm
  • One minute of rope jumping
  • 10 one-arm dumbbell clean and push presses
  • One minute of rope jumping
  • 10 one-arm dumbbell swings
  • One minute of rope jumping
  • 10 dumbbell squats

Intermediate

  • Same as above, only with two minute rounds of rope jumping.

Advanced

  • Same as above, only with three minute rounds of rope jumping.

Tips

There are several ways you can incorporate these workouts into your current regimen.

  1. You could do one HOC workout per week to gradually work into it.
  2. You could cut back in the weightroom and do two HOC workouts per week. This would be kind of a half-and-half program in which your progress in the weight room would slow down and your conditioning would improve gradually.
  3. You could do HOC three times a week and hit the weight room one to two times a week. This option would really be for those who want to lose as much fat as possible in the least amount of time. It's also a good option for those that compete in mixed martial arts or some other combat sport.

Unlike other cardio programs in which you tend to lose muscle, High Octane Cardio incorporates weights so you won't suffer the same negative effects. Feel free to pick your own dumbbell or weight exercises, but be smart and don't pick exercises such as the Turkish get-up or the bent press which require a great deal of concentration and coordination. You'll be so pooped you could drop something heavy on your head, causing children and mean people to point and laugh.

Also, pick weights that are much lighter than what you use when you're fresh. If you can do 10 one-arm dumbbell snatches with a 90 pound dumbbell when you're fresh, then start with a 50 pound dumbbell for your 1st few HOC workouts and gradually increase the weight.

Now, get out of your comfort zone and leave the exercise bikes and Stairmasters to the hamsters at your gym who like to read the Wall Street Journal in between sets of Smith machine bench presses. Give High Octane Cardio a shot and watch the fat melt away!