Two Fit

Published: Sunday April 13, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Monday April 14, 2014 MYT 1:52:00 PM

Hate running? No problem

You don’t have to find a nice clean river (a rarity in Malaysia, for sure) to enjoy rowing. Get to a rowing machine, and start doing it. On average, we burn between 400 and 800 calories in an hour with rowing. – Filepic

You don’t have to find a nice clean river (a rarity in Malaysia, for sure) to enjoy rowing. Get to a rowing machine, and start doing it. On average, we burn between 400 and 800 calories in an hour with rowing. – Filepic

For those not into the treadmill-pounding routine, not to worry – you can use one or more of these alternative cardio exercises.

Cardiovascular (cardio) exercise improves heart health, cholesterol levels and lung function, which is why you need it even if weight loss isn’t your priority.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week for most adults, or 60 to 90 minutes of vigorous activity, as a golden rule for maintaining good health.

For most people, running is the number one go-to approach when it comes to cardio. While thumping ceaselessly on treadmills or pavements may be fun for some, for others, running is more of a chore.

Sounds like you? Here’s the good news. You can still get a killer cardio workout and reap its health benefits without having to run. Add a twist to your cardio repertoire by using one or more of these simple routines.


Skipping is a great calorie burner, torching up to 10 calories per minute, while strengthening your butt, legs, shoulders and arms.

According to the Compendium of Physical Studies, skipping for 10 minutes can burn as many calories as jogging at an eight-minute-per-mile pace.

Skipping also helps build bone mineral density and improves total body power. It is also a popular training method with boxers.

Because skipping forces you to keep up a rhythmic pace and to use proper form, doing it consistently will help improve your coordination.

Beginners can start off with four to eight sets of 30 repetitions (reps), depending on your endurance. Rest 30 seconds in between sets.

It may feel silly if you trip up at first, but over time, you will learn how to time and condition your body to use the rope.

Kettlebell swings

Resembling a cross between a cannonball and your grandmother’s handbag, this odd-looking hunk of cast iron is a classic fat burner that doubles up as a strength-training apparatus.

Done with proper form, this simple and explosive movement targets the glutes, hamstrings, core, shoulders and quads, and gets your heart rate up.

With its main focus on your posterior (muscle) chain, kettlebell swings can help you sculpt a butt that will give Kim Kardashian a run for her money.

Originally used in 18th century Russia as agricultural scales by farmers, kettlebells are gaining popularity as a great apparatus for total body conditioning.Their asymmetrical design requires one to apply total strength to manoeuvre them in a workout. Women generally start off with an 8kg kettlebell while men start with a 12kg one.
Resembling a cross between a cannonball and your grandmother’s handbag, this odd-looking hunk of cast iron is a classic fat burner that doubles up as a strength-training apparatus. – Filepic

To perform this, start off standing with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Grab the kettlebell’s handle with both hands, keeping your elbows straight. Push your butt back by bending your knees slightly and hinging at the hips.

As you flex your hips, swing the kettlebell between your thighs and stand up explosively, letting the bell swing forward and up to chest level.

Repeat the movement with a steady rhythm. Keep your spine extended and your chest lifted the entire time, to avoid lower back injuries.

You can perform the swing with a moderate to heavy weight as part of a comprehensive strength-training programme, or you can use a lighter weight and go for higher reps for a heart-pumping cardio workout. Both are effective with regards to your behind.


The underrated rowing machine provides an amazing full-body workout. This is because rowing requires effort from both your upper and lower body, which leads to greater gains in overall cardiovascular fitness.

On average, people burn between 400 and 800 calories in an hour with rowing.

Each stroke engages the quads, hamstrings, glutes, lats, core, shoulder, triceps and biceps. Good posture and a lean physique are some obvious benefits of rowing.

Perhaps the best thing about rowing is that it is easy on the joints and suitable for people of all ages. This makes the low-impact exercise ideal for rehab activity, especially for runners.

However, improper form can lead to injury. A tip to consider when rowing is that your back should be kept straight throughout the entire movement.

Use your quads. On the back stroke, your knees should be completely straight before you squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull the handle to your sternum (chest).


No workout list is complete without these bad boys. Forget long runs. If you really want to challenge your cardio, burpees are your best friend.

They are arguably the most demanding bodyweight exercise, targeting almost the entire body including the legs, buttocks, triceps, forearms, chest, shoulders and the all-important abs (that’s a lot of muscles!).

The explosiveness of the burpee makes it a very intense exercise. As a result, it is often favoured as part of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) programmes.

Burpees are frequently used as conditioning exercises for many sports, from football to badminton, and even Muay Thai fighting.

Due to its intensity, the movement spikes up your metabolism, producing an after-burn effect that will last for hours after your workout.

The standard “four-count” burpee is performed in these easy steps: Begin in a squat position with your hands on the floor in front of you. Kick your feet back in one quick movement to a push-up position. Do a push-up (this is optional).

Immediately return your feet to the squat position in one quick motion. Finish the movement by jumping as high as you can from the squat position.

Tabata burpees help you build lots of endurance and burn more fat than in a marathon. Perform as many of these as you can in a 20-second time frame, followed by 10 seconds of rest, for eight rounds.

This will total up to the four longest minutes in your life.

Be sure to record your time as you visit this workout time and again, in order to track progress and fitness level.

> Fiona Ho is a certified personal trainer and a fitness enthusiast who derives happiness in lifting heavy objects. For more information, email

Tags / Keywords: Opinion, Lifestyle, Health, fitness column, cardio exercises

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