image-of-hop-over-demonstrated-on-a-mirafit-weightbench

For most of the time, having a weight bench is about having a base that can support your strengthening routine. However, weight benches are extremely useful pieces of equipment and there's no reason why you can’t use them for your cardio routine either.

So many people think that burning calories and getting their heartrate up involves long, boring runs on the treadmill or hours on an exercise bike.

This is a complete myth. Fitness comes in all shapes and sizes and it's all about variation as well as being clever with your equipment, space and training regime. This way, you can get the most out of your workout as well as give your motivation levels a boost!

So, forget the treadmill and mind-numbing routines. Mix things up and get your sweat on with our top six cardio exercises using a weight bench.

 

Top six exercises using a weight bench

1) Hop overs

How to do them: Place your hands on the sides of the weight bench and jump both legs over and back again. Keep going for as long as you can!

Why they're great: Hop overs – or bunny hops – are great for getting your heart rate up. You can choose your speed and because you have to get your legs over the weight bench every time (so as not to hit it) there's no slacking.

And being a plyometric exercise, it's great for explosivity and power as well as firing up your hip flexors. Put your weight down onto your arms and get a good chest and back workout at the same time.

2) Box jumps and box jacks

demonstration-of-a-box-jump-using-a-mirafit-weight-bench

How to do them: To box jump, stand with your feet hip-width apart at right angles to the bench, jump up onto the weight bench and back down again. To increase the intensity, you can squat down before you jump.

Box jacks are very similar except you start by standing on the bench (with it placed longways), and then drop both legs down to either side of the bench then jump back up again.

Why they're great: As a compound exercise, these are great for working pretty much your whole body. Balancing at the top engages your core and keeping to the same height each time means you can't drop the intensity. Great for power and speed, these are fantastic exercises to include in your routine. Great for fat burning and for getting your heart rate up into your maximum BPM zone.

3) Mountain climbers

demonstration-of-incline-mountain-climbers-using-mirafit-weight-bench

How to do them: These can be done either at an incline with your hands on the bench to pick up speed, or at a decline with your feet on the bench and your hands on the floor, to really work your upper body. Bring your knees into your chest one by one and move as quickly as you can – for as long as you can!

Why they're great: Mountain climbers are great cardio but they also target your core as well. Keep your abs tense while you do them and keep the speed up as much as possible. Incline mountain climbers also make a great leg warm up as they can be used as a dynamic stretch.

4) Decline jack planks

demonstration-of-jack-planks-using-a mirafit-weightbench

How to do them: With the bench positioned longways, get yourself into a pushup position, with your feet up on the edge of the bench and your arms on the floor. Jump your legs down either side of the bench and then jump them back up again, maintaining a straight body and tensing your abs. Don't stop until you drop!

Why they're great: These make a grueling addition to any cardio workout and are often used in HIIT classes as well as bootcamp regimes. Not only are you adding on the pressure to your arms and shoulders, but the horizontal jumping jacks are forcing a great cardio workout into the exercise.

You'll really notice the burn on this one and they are a real killer – but this is exactly why you should do them!

5) Step ups

demonstration-of-step-up-using-mirafit-weight-bench

How to do them: To step up, place one foot on the bench at a time and push yourself up from the ground. Then step one foot at a time back down again. Alternate which foot you start off with and you can incorporate other movements into the exercise too such as arm pull downs, kick backs, knee raises and squats.

Why they're great: Step ups make a great workout and there's a really wide variety of exercises you can do. They're great for all abilities because you can start of small and then really up the intensity as you go along. Add in some ankle weights and wrist weights to get your heart rate even higher!

6) Box shuffle

box-shuffle-demonstration-using-mirafit-gear

How to do them: With the bench positioned longways, stand parallel to it at one side. Step up with the leg nearest to the bench, and push your body upwards. As you start to bring your other leg onto the weight bench, quickly step off with your first leg and swap your weight onto the foot that's now on the bench. Do this quickly for as long as you can.

Why they're great: Box shuffles allow you to get a deep squat on each leg while pushing up with your body weight. This means you're really targeting your glutes as well as your quads, and getting a great workout at the same time. Maintaining your speed can be really tiring so it's a great one to include in your training regime.

Proof if you ever needed it that weight benches are just as good for cardio as they are for strengthening. Add in a few Mirafit weights, bars and a power rack, and you have the beginnings of an extremely fine gym.

image-of-step-up-using-a-mirafit-weight-bench

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