Five Indoor Workouts To Boost Your Fitness

Give these alternate forms of exercise a try when running outside is not an option.

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Give these alternate forms of exercise a try when running outside is not an option.

As we find ourselves dead smack in the middle of winter, sometimes running outside is just not an option. You will either turn into a snowman the second you walk out the door or your body might just be in need of some time off from pounding the pavement. Regardless, taking your workout indoors doesn’t have to be as a brutal a change as the wintry weather outside.  A new workout away from the cold, slush and snow can actually put a positive spin on your weekly training routine.

Try these five indoor workouts for a change of pace and you might find yourself going back to them even after spring has sprung!

Treadmill Speed Workout

Running on the treadmill for most runners sounds worse than listening to nails screech on a chalkboard. The never-ending turn of the treadmill belt can lead runners accustomed to logging hours at a time to jump off it within minutes. On the other hand, hopping on the treadmill to do a speed workout can be a different story. Having a workout written out and prepared can be the difference between running on the treadmill and running away from it as fast as you can. With the treadmill screen staring right at you, hitting splits and measuring your heart rate is a cinch. Hit a few buttons and tune out; you’re legs will do the rest.

MORE–Think Outside The Mill: How To Make The Most Of Training On The Treadmill


Popular in the CrossFit culture, rowing provides many of the same benefits of running, but isn’t as taxing on your joints. It’s a great cross training workout, especially when rehabbing injuries, and elevates the heart rate just as much as running, while also challenging the muscles all throughout the body that running tends to neglect.

“Rowing is an invaluable tool for runners,” founder of Crossfit Endurance, Brian MacKenzie, told Competitor earlier this year. “It helps runners and cyclists find power in muscles they hadn’t used before.”

Spin Class

If losing weight to increase your fitness level is one of your winter goals, an indoor spinning class is the workout for you. In just 60 minutes of indoor cycling you can burn up to 800 calories. Cycling indoors in a group class provides great motivation and can push you further than you thought your legs and lungs would allow.

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“[Indoor cycling] is a great nonimpact, strength and endurance building exercise,” explained Emmy Blume, owner of Go Cycle studio in Chicago. “Cycling also helps improve leg turnover, helping increase your running speed.”

Interval Weight Training

Lifting weights is an important aspect of becoming a stronger, more efficient and injury-free runner; however, there is more than one way to hit the weight room. Alternating high-intensity weight lifting with high-intensity cardio intervals keeps your heart rate high similar to running, yet builds muscle and burns fat at a much higher rate.

Best Strengthening Exercise For Runners: The Burpee

Mix up the following exercises and you’ve got yourself a great interval weight-training workout.

Weight-Training Exercises


10-plus pounds

3 to 4 rounds of 12 repetitions

Works: quads, hamstrings, glutes


10-plus pounds

3 to 4 rounds of 12 repetitions

Works: quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves

Bicep Curls

5-plus pounds in each hand

2 to 3 rounds of 12 repetitions

Works: biceps

Overhead Press

5-plus pounds in each hand

2 to 3 rounds of 12 repetitions

Works: shoulders, deltoids, upper back, triceps


Body weight only

2 to 3 rounds of 12 repetitions

works: chest, shoulders, triceps, core

Cardio Exercises

Jumping jacks

Jump rope


Mountain climbers

Squat jumps

High knees

Straight-leg kicks

Butt kickers


Like rowing, swimming is also no impact yet can get the blood pumping and leave your lungs gasping for air. Runners often ignore strengthening their upper body and swimming is great for your shoulders, back and core, all of which make you a stronger, all-around runner.

“Swimming is an excellent endurance sport that uses different muscles groups [than running]. It is especially beneficial for runners recovering from injuries,” San Diego-based swim coach Brian Jenkins explained. “Running can be tough and swimming is a good outlet for similar endurance activity but low impact. It’s also great for the aging population who can’t run like they used to.”