athletic woman doing plyometric exercises

Shake-Up Your Cardio Routine With 2 Fun Alternatives To Running

If running miles and miles is not your idea of fun, or, if it is, but you’re trapped in the house under stay-at-home orders, I’ve got some alternative cardio workouts that you can do at home.

Woman running on a scenic desert road
Running just isn’t the same on a treadmill…

In a recent post – we learned how to use things commonly found around the house to get an awesome cardio workout without any fancy equipment. If you haven’t seen that post yet, take a minute to learn how to make your own agility ladder and to learn the drills which are used in the workouts at the end of this post. 

This post will expand on the previous one which introduced the drills, and present several different ways to put these drills together to make high-intensity cardio workouts that won’t make you feel like a gerbil on a wheel.

High-Intensity Interval Training

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) basically means that you work really hard for a short period of time, then rest, before doing it all again. HIIT training is different than long slow distance training, or what we generally think of as “jogging”. 

There are a ton of benefits for HIIT training, which I won’t dive into here. But one of the biggest benefits is that you can get great results in a lot less time. The reason for this, is that with HITT you are working harder for a shorter period of time, whereas with jogging, you aren’t working quite as hard but you’re going for a lot longer. 

athletic woman doing single leg leap

Essentially, HIIT gives you a lot of bang for your buck – which is a big win if you ask me! Especially since one of the biggest reasons people give for not sticking to an exercise program is that they don’t have time.

The two HIIT methods that we’ll talk about are EMOM and Tabata.

What the Heck is EMOM?

EMOM stands for Every Minute On the Minute. For an EMOM workout, you need a timer that beeps every minute. The idea is, that when the timer beeps, you do a given number of reps of an exercise, and then rest for the remainder of the minute. Then, when the timer beeps again, you start on the next exercise. See the following example.

Example EMOM Workout – 8 Minutes

  • Exercise 1 x # reps
  • Exercise 2 x # reps
  • Exercise 3 x # reps
  • Exercise 4 x # reps
    • Repeat two times.

In this workout, when the timer goes off, you would do your reps of exercise 1 as fast as you can (with good form), and then rest for the remainder of the minute. When the timer beeps again, do your reps of exercise 2 and then rest. Continue like this until you have completed all four exercises, and then start at the top again, for a total of 2 rounds. This will end up being an 8 minute workout. 

EMOM can be a great method for beginners. If you have recently started exercising again (or are starting for the first time), I would suggest exercising for about 20 seconds, and resting for about 40 seconds during your EMOM. 

Do a little test before your workout to figure out roughly how many reps of your desired exercise you can do in 20 seconds. Then use that number as your rep target during your EMOM.

Over time, as you get used to this workout, you can start shifting it a bit. For example, do about 30 seconds of work and 30 seconds of rest during your EMOM.

What Is Tabata Training?

The Tabata is also a type of HIIT workout. It is important to point out that Tabata training is designed for advanced or experienced exercisers. In this method you work pretty much as hard as you can for 20 seconds. Then you rest for 10 seconds. This is repeated 8 times, for a total of 4 minutes. 

Using our same example from above – but in the Tabata-style, the workout is as follows:

  • 20 seconds Exercise 1 → 10 seconds rest.
  • 20 seconds Exercise 2 → 10 seconds rest.
  • 20 seconds Exercise 3 → 10 seconds rest.
  • 20 seconds Exercise 4 → 10 seconds rest.
  • Repeat two times

Recommended Apps

For both of these types of workouts you will need a timer, preferably one you don’t have to start and stop all the time -since that can be very frustrating when you only have 10 seconds to rest!

There are tons of different free apps out there, so feel free to search around. But the best apps I have found are Tabata Timer by Eugene Sharafan and Seconds – Interval Timer for HIIT & Tabata by Runloop. These apps are available for both Apple and Android systems.

Both apps have a limited free version, but If you build workouts in either app that you would like to do more than once, it will probably be beneficial to buy the upgrades on the apps. The upgrade gives you access to many more features including the ability to save, share, and build as many different workouts as you’d like. 

Tabata Timer can be used for $0.99 per month, or a one time purchase of $7.99 The one time purchase price for Seconds is 4.99$.

Both apps have very similar functions, so try them out and see what you like better. My favorite features on both of these apps, are that you can program them to speak the names of your exercises so you don’t have to be looking at your phone the whole time, and that you can still play music on your phone while you’re using these apps!

The Workouts

Below, I will give example workouts for both EMOM and Tabata using the ladder drills we learned in a previous post.

For Beginner/Intermediate Exercisers

Every Minute on the Minute for 8 minutes:

  • Forward running – 2 in a box
  • 2 foot lateral run
  • High knee run
  • Carioca
  • Bunny hop – forward
  • Lateral in, in, out, out
  • Ladder jumping jacks
  • Skiers
Jogger looking at watch
Get your watch ready!

For beginners, shoot for one round trip on the ladder, meaning down and back, then rest for the remainder of the minute. 

For intermediate exercisers, shoot for 3 passes on the ladder – down, back, and down again, and then rest for the remainder of the minute.

For Advanced Exercisers


  • 20 seconds – Forward running – 2 in a box, 10 seconds rest.
  • 20 seconds – 2 foot lateral run, 10 seconds rest.
  • 20 seconds – High knee run, 10 seconds rest.
  • 20 seconds – Carioca, 10 seconds rest.
  • 20 seconds – Bunny hop – forward, 10 seconds rest.
  • 20 seconds – Lateral in, in, out, out, 10 seconds rest.
  • 20 seconds – Ladder jumping jacks, 10 seconds rest.
  • 20 seconds – Skiers, 10 seconds rest.

Remember – give this workout everything you’ve got! It’s only 4 minutes, but it should leave you huffing and puffing. 

Things to Keep in Mind for HIIT Training

  • If you are just starting to exercise, check with your doctor to make sure it is safe for you to do so.
  • Be realistic about where you are with your fitness right now so you can set yourself up for success later. Everyone has to start somewhere!
  • Don’t forget to do a proper warm-up prior to a high-intensity workout.
  • Push yourself, but don’t over-do it. 
  • Don’t forget the tunes! Cue up that playlist, and have fun with it!

Your Turn!

The cool thing about these training methods, is that they are super versatile. You can use them with all kinds of different exercises and equipment – the possibilities are endless!

Be creative! Can you work your favorite exercises into one of these EMOM or Tabata-style workouts? 

Share the knowledge!

Author: clarissa.cabbage

Clarissa is a health coach, autoimmune warrior, and avid adventurer. And she is on a mission to help women escape the diet-culture mentality so they can build healthy habits they actually WANT to stick to - without all the guilt, deprivation and FOMO! When she's not coaching amazing women like yourself, you'll find her outside - hiking, paddling, and hunting for hidden waterfalls on the island of Kauai where she lives with her partner and furry side-kick, Ipo!

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