As people who focus on our health and fitness levels, one statement is true: Cardio is a must for us.
It’s the necessary evil in our fitness lifestyles. If we want to get or stay lean, cardio helps us burn bodyfat. If we want to build muscle and get stronger, cardio helps the heart pump faster so nutrient rich blood gets pumped to the muscles we are training.
However the thought of running in place on a treadmill or pedaling it out while sweating all over an elliptical for an hour may not seem like a good time to anyone.
If that’s something that you enjoy doing, then great, but there are many people out there who don’t look forward to it and will even try to come up with reasons why they can’t do it that day.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to make cardio more productive and perhaps take less time out of our day?
Dare I say it, what if it was even, well, fun? What follows is a solution and you can even do this from the comfort of your own home and will take you less than 20 minutes.
This home cardio plan will be centered around Tabata Training. In short, Tabata Training is a form of High Intensity Interval Training that involves alternating 20 seconds of high intensity activity with 10 seconds of brief rest until you have completed eight rounds which takes a total of four minutes.
For the purpose of this plan, we’ll do two different activities that will incorporate Tabata for two rounds each which will total 16 total minutes. Add in one minute rest between each round and you have 19 minutes total from start to finish.
What You Will Need
- Open space in your yard where you can run and swing a sledgehammer without endangering anyone else.
- Old Tire
- Sledgehammer (A sledgehammer weighing anywhere from six to ten pounds will work. Don’t get the biggest one you can find.)
- Stopwatch, a clock, or the timer on your cell phone
- Sandbag (If you don’t have a sandbag or don’t want to commit to buying one, read below about how to make your own DIY sandbag.)
DIY (Do It Yourself) Sandbag
This will likely cost you less than $30 to make. You will need:
- 50 pound bag of play sand,
- Trash bag
- Duct tape
- Durable duffle bag
Make sure you get a quality bag that can take some punishment. A cheap bag won’t last long.
Place the trash bag on the scale and begin pouring the sand into the trash bag until the scale shows the weight you want the sandbag to be. If you want a 50 pound sandbag, just place the entire 50 pound bag of sand into the trash bag.
Tie the trash bag closed and fold it over as tightly as you can. Wrap the entire trash bag with duct tape to help prevent the bag from ripping later on.
Place the trash bag into your duffle bag and zip it closed. You now have your own sandbag. If you’ve never done training with a sandbag before, begin with a 15, 20, or at best a 25 pound bag. You can always add sand to it later if needed.
The Sledgehammer Tabata Workout
For the first part of your home cardio plan, you’ll take the sledgehammer and repeatedly hit the tire as many times as you can in 20 seconds.
Swing with the same arm which should be your dominant arm every time during the first 20 seconds. Swinging a sledgehammer and hitting something like a tire that can take the punishment can be a great way to relieve negative stress in a positive way.
If this applies to you then you might be tempted to give that tire as much of your aggression as possible.
As tempting as that may be, that’s not your purpose for this workout. You don’t need to take big and long swings here. The goal is repetition, not power, so take short and quick swings with the goal to make contact as many times as you can.
Once the 20 seconds is done, drop the hammer and catch your breath for 10 seconds. Once the 10 seconds elapses, start hitting the tire with the sledgehammer again for another 20 seconds but this time use the opposite arm. For example, if you were swinging from your right side last time, do it with your left side this time.
After your second round of hammering, take another 10 second break. At this point one minute has passed.
Repeat this pattern alternating arms every 20 second round until you’ve reached four minutes. Once four minutes passes, take a one minute break to sip water, catch your breath, and get your sandbag ready for round 2 of Tabata Training, Home Edition.
The Sandbag Tabata Workout
When the time starts, pick up your sandbag, place it over one of your shoulders, and begin running as fast as you can.
If you don’t have a long area to run, just go back and forth in whatever area you do have. Once you’ve sprinted for 20 consecutive seconds, drop the sandbag and catch your breath for 10 seconds.
When your next sprint begins, pick up the sandbag and place it over the opposite shoulder that you used last time. So if you carried it on your right side during your first sprint, carry it on your left shoulder this time.
After your second 20 second sprint, take another 10 second break. This will be the one minute mark. Repeat this pattern until four minutes has passed. Once four minutes has elapsed, you will have completed part 2 of your cardio session.
Alternative: If you can’t come up with a place for you to run for some reason, or have health issues that may affect your ability to run, that’s okay. You can perform this alternate workout - Simply stand behind your sandbag. When your 20 second starts, pick up the sandbag to shoulder level,
If you’re new to Tabata Training or are a beginner in general when it comes to training, then this is the end of the line for you and you can call it a day.
Stretch, drink some water, take some deep breaths, and cool down.
If you’re more advanced then you get another one minute rest at this point and then it’s back to the sledgehammer and tire.
You’ll repeat what you just did one more time with another four minute sledgehammer session followed up by another set of sprints with the sandbag.
Make sure you take that one minute break in between the Tabata sessions. By the time you’ve finished that second round, you’ll be at the 19 minute mark and this is where you will be done for the day.