The Best Workouts to Do if You Hate Running

Over the last 40 years, running went from an activity reserved for outpacing criminals to the Holy Grail of cardiovascular fitness, where longer, faster, and harder are somehow deemed "better." While there’s no denying that a moderate amount of running carries benefits, it's not the only way to become a fitness rockstar.

If you've solidly placed yourself in the "I hate running" camp, you can officially stop feeling guilty about your aversion to pavement pounding and simply try one of these workouts on for size.

circuit training best exercises if you hate running
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Circuit training

Circuit training’s an excellent alternative to running because the style of workout combines cardio and strength training into a total-body routine. The whole point of circuit training is to keep your heart rate up as you alternate between different exercises, so to do it correctly, you need to keep moving.

interval walking best exercises if you hate running
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Interval walking

Don't worry, I'm not going to suggest you start swinging your arms and hips like a race walker -- your everyday walking style should work just fine.

Interval walking training (IWT) is very similar to other forms of interval training; you simply alternate between a lower-intensity walking pace and a higher-intensity (i.e., faster) pace. This style of training is more effective at controlling blood sugar than walking at a continuous pace, and like other styles of interval training, it boosts post-exercise calorie burn and boosts cardiovascular health. Plus, because walking’s considered a weight-bearing exercise, it's a low-impact way to support bone health.

Give it a try: Use the rate of perceived exertion (RPE) to determine your pace. An RPE of one is the equivalent to sitting still, while an RPE of 10 is the equivalent to an all-out sprint. This is subjective, of course, but it's still a good way to manage your pace.

  • Warm-up, five minutes: Walk at an RPE of four, building speed to an RPE of five
  • Workout, 20 minutes: Alternate every minute between a walk at RPE four and a walk at RPE seven -- you should be moving at a fast clip during your high-intensity intervals
  • Cool-down, five minutes: Gradually slow your pace from an RPE of five to an RPE of three

Jumping rope

Jumping rope certainly isn't easy -- it's a full-body cardiovascular exercise, very much like running, that offers a lower-impact route to major calorie burn. In fact, jumping rope burns just about as many calories per minute as running does, making it my personal go-to workout for high-intensity cardio.

One of the reasons it's my personal fave is that you can mix up your jumping style to battle boredom and challenge different muscle groups. Oh, and Rocky did it, which should be good enough for you.

Give it a try: Do your best to keep jumping during each jump rope interval. Even if you mess up, don't just wait for the time to run down -- reset and try again. Yo'’ll get better with practice.

  • Warm-up, five minutes: Perform a jump rope jog at a slow pace. The goal is to do as much consecutive jumping as you can, so don't worry about how often you mess up or need to take a break. Just aim to fit in as much jumping as possible in five minutes.
  • Workout, 30 minutes: Perform each exercise for 60 seconds, followed by a 30-second rest; repeat the series four times through
  • Cool-down, three minutes: Repeat the warm-up, simply performing a jump rope jog at a slow pace

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Laura Williams is an exercise physiologist and fitness writer who jumps rope like a boss. What's your favorite non-running cardio move? Share on Twitter: @girlsgonesporty.