10 alternative exercise routines you can do in the gym


Gyms don’t have to be boring!  Indeed, with the bigger emphasis now on large, dynamic group classes as well as niche gyms opening up around the country, now is a good a time as any to be a member of a gym!  The whole concept of rows and rows of running and elliptical machines is now being replaced with more free weights, boxing rings as well as space for functional training which includes things like kettlebells, TRX straps and in some cases, a sprint track!  In the UK alone, the number of people spending less time on CV machines is decreasing 7% in the past 5 years and 3% in the US according to the Fitness Industry Suppliers Association.  Below are 12 alternative exercises that you could do to either take advantage of this trend or to make cardio workouts more fun and less soul destroying.

  • Instead of: Running at a continuous pace for 40 minutes on a treadmill

Do this:  High intensity interval training-set the treadmill on a 2% incline and sprint as fast as you can for 20 seconds, followed by 1 minute rest.  Repeat x10 followed by a 5 minute cool down

  • Instead of: Uphill walking on the treadmill

Do this instead:  Hill sprints-set the treadmill at maximum incline and sprint for 10 seconds and rest 1 minute.  Repeat x10 followed by a 5 minute cool down.

  • Instead of: Normal walking on the treadmill (yes, I still see people do this)

Do this instead:  Sled pushes-load up a sled if your gym has one and push for distance.  Try this:  Push for 10 metres and go every minute.  Repeat x10

  • Instead of: 40 minutes on the bike at a continuous pace

Do this:  A spin class-most gyms now offer them-have a look at your gym timetable

  • Instead of: 30 mins on the elliptical machine

Do this:  Stairmaster-2 mins at 80% max effort followed by 3 mins at 60% of max intensity

  • Instead of: 20 minutes of mindless rowing

Do this instead:  HIIT on the rower-30 seconds at 90% max effort, 30 seconds at 50% effort.  Repeat x12

  • Instead of: Using the weights machines

Do this instead:  Use more free weights.  If you are a beginner, you may wish to have a look at my beginner’s whole body gym routine here.

  • Instead of: your usual weights routine (for more advanced gym goers)

Do this instead:  A barbell circuit-load up a barbell with a challenging weight and do the following back to back exercises with no rest-deadlift, power clean, front squat, shoulder press, stiff leg        deadlift, barbell row, ab roll outs.  Try to keep hold of the bar at all times, and rest 2 minutes in between sets for 5 sets.  I can really feel it myself after 3 sets.  You have been warned!

  • Instead of: your usual weights routine

Do this instead:  take up a yoga class.  If you’re like me and like to erm…spend too much time on the free weights, replace one of those days with a yoga class instead.  Yoga helps to improve your      flexibility, prevent any injuries and also helps to make stretching more fun and interesting when done as part of a class.  So go ahead and book a class.  You’ll thank me later…

  • Instead of: going to the gym when you’re sick

Do this instead; take the day off.  I’m guilty of doing this myself.  As someone who trains intensely on a regular basis, there are times (though not very often) I just can’t put 100% effort in due        to fatigue.  So take the day off and get some rest.  You’ll do more harm than good otherwise.

A few additional pointers:

-Focus on good technique and form:  consult with a personal trainer in your gym if in doubt or get in touch with me by replying in the comments below if you have any concerns.

-Try and beat your record every time on each exercise.

-Eat well:  Keeping fit is a lifestyle choice.  In terms of nutrition, I like to keep things nice and simple-just focus on eating regularly (every 3-4 hours) and on clean, whole foods.  In this case, you can’t really go wrong with eggs, meat, fish, brown rice, wholemeal pasta and fresh fruit and vegetables.

-Keep a training dairy-I would recommend you purchase the Wellness Journal by The Daily Greatness.  Not only are these journals undated (so you can start any time!), but they also contain weekly, quarterly and yearly check ins so that you can track your long term fitness goals in addition to providing a daily food and exercise journal.  Not only this, but if you purchase now through my referral link here, you will also get 5% off!  Moreover, if you are for any reason not happy with your product, then they do have a 100% no questions asked return policy.

Please read this article on the best gyms to join in London here.  However, does your schedule prevent you from attending your local gym on a regular basis?  Then a pay as you go option could be the answer, therefore consider PayAsUGym.  Here, you can gain single day or bundled access to a wide variety of gyms in London with no contracts, joining fees or inductions so you can be rest assured that there would always be a place to train whether you are at home, work or when travelling.  Click here for more information and to sign up.

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