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Running is an extremely effective way of building your aerobic fitness, partially because it’s such a draining and difficult exercise.

But because it’s so challenging, not everyone enjoys facing it for long periods and some who do need a break from it now and again.

There are several other options that can make you aerobically stronger, some of which you might not have given any thought to. 

Here, Built for Athletes takes a look at six of them.


Exercises that force you to work multiple large muscle groups for extended periods of time are great for cardio because they make your heart work hard to push blood around the body.

Doing a few rounds on a punching bag or a pair of pads challenges your coordination, making it more interesting than running for many athletes.


Rowers are extremely fit because they spend hours in the boat strengthening their lungs and heart. Using a rowing machine puts minimal strain on joints and is good for developing core strength.

Ski Machine

Cross-country skiers have the biggest VO2 max of any sport. That means they can consume the most amount of oxygen relative to their body weight. 

Ski machines can be found at many gyms, but be prepared for your shoulders to be worked. 


They look a bit unusual but versaclimbers are extremely effective. Tennis players frequently use them to work on their cardio and Andy Murray even has one in his home gym.


The big advantage of using an elliptical machine is that you can keep your heart rate fairly low, which means you can do long periods of training without feeling exhausted afterwards. 

It’s also a non-impact method of cardio so the injury risks are very low.


Swimming is great for working on your core and building your lung capacity. To make it more enjoyable, try working on your technique and give yourself the target of becoming as efficient as possible.

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