Training the Aerobic System without Running

As much as I love running, there are times when it’s just not possible. Sometimes it’s and injury, sometimes there’s too much ice in the winter, but whatever the reason Cardio-Respiratory Training must go on.

Concept2 Rower

I love the C2 Rower. Last year we had 9 athletes compete (including myself) in the World Indoor Rowing Championships in Boston. This is an amazing event to train for.  For more info visit

The indoor rower is a great substitute when you can’t run. The training stimulus is transferable from rowing to running, your 5K row and 5K run should be comparable. Luckily you can find a C2 indoor rower at most health clubs, and they usually aren’t being used.


If you’ve never tried a spinning class, you’re missing out. This is a fun workout in a group setting. Most health clubs offer the class free or for a small fee. Classes range from 30 minutes to an hour, and are suitable for all levels. A good instructor will include intervals and hill climbs, with adequate active rest to let your legs and heart rate recover. With some good music and a lively instructor, the class will fly by.

When biking as a substitute for running, wear a heart rate monitor and go for calories instead of distance. At my body weight I burn 305 calories on a 5k run, if I cycle on an Airdyne, or street bike for 305 calories, it’s takes me almost exactly as long as my 5k running PR.

There are several good calorie calculators on the web to see what the conversion is. Visit to calculate your calorie expenditure.


If you don’t have access to cardio equipment, using your own body weight will get your what you’re looking for, and maybe a little more. My favorite calisthenic workout is 100 Burpees for time. For intervals I like to use Mountain Climbers, Jump Rope, Split Lunges, Jump Squats, and Bear Crawls.

As a beginner pick an exercise and go for 20 seconds on with a minute rest. The number of intervals you should do, depends on your work capacity. Don’t run yourself into the ground. The point at which your slow down dramatically is when you should end the workout.

In won’t be long before you increase the length of time for the active segment of the interval. After a week increase it to 30 seconds on and a minute rest. Then try for a minute on, and a minute rest.

For more workouts visit

Jason Zagami
Founder of Solid Body Fitness
USA Track & Field Level 1 Coach
Strength & Conditioning Coach
CrossFit Level 1 Certified Personal Trainer
CrossFit Certified Indoor Rowing Instructor

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