If You Don't Like Running, Try This 25-Minute Low-Impact Intense Cardio and Ab Workout

Some days we have all the motivation in the world to train hard, and then our sore muscles remind us to chill out. That's what happened to me the other week. I was super sore from a week of solid training — it hurt to stretch my arms above head, and every muscle below my belly button was screaming at me.

I knew another leg day would be pointless, and I wasn't even going to consider doing another upper-body workout. Instead, I decided on cardio, but a "fun" type of cardio. I had two goals for the cardio workout: I wanted it to be quick, and I wanted it to be conditioning. Not going to lie, this workout is challenging (and feels a lot worse when you're sore), but you'll be happy you did it.

If you're a beginner, feel free to modify this workout as needed; I've included my suggestions for modifications. It shouldn't take more than 25 minutes to do, and you should be exhausted once it's done. Now, it's time to get your heart rate up!

The Cardio and Ab Workout

Equipment needed: You'll need a soft-shelled medicine ball — six to 10 pounds is a good starting point. You'll also need to be near a SkiErg Machine and an assault bike. If your gym doesn't have either, substitute the SkiErg with the row machine and the assault bike with the StairMaster.

Before starting the workout, make sure to warm up. Here's a dynamic warmup I like. Don't forget to do a few core-activating exercises before getting started as well. Beginners should complete two rounds, and intermediate/advanced levels should complete three rounds. Be sure to cool down after your workout.

  • SkiErg: 30 seconds for beginners; 45 seconds for those at an intermediate or advanced level
  • Seated knee tuck: 20 reps (beginners can do the dead bug exercise for 10 reps)
  • Side plank with hip dip: 12 reps each side (beginners can hold a side bridge or a side plank for 15 seconds)
  • Assault bike: beginners should burn six calories; intermediate/advanced levels should burn 10 calories
  • High knees: 20 reps for beginners; 30 reps for intermediate/advanced levels
  • Rotational medicine ball slam and toss: 10 reps each direction (beginners should do 10 reps of standard ball slams)
POPSUGAR Photography | Tamara Pridgett


  • Before getting started, adjust the resistance of the machine. Anywhere between two and four is a good starting point for beginners. If this feels too easy, feel free to increase the resistance.
  • Begin facing the machine with your feet hip-width apart. Reach your arms up and grab the handles (one should be in each hand).
  • With power, pull the handles down as you simultaneously bend at your knees and hips. You should look like you're cross-country skiing. Be sure to keep your core engaged and your back flat.
  • Keep your arms in tight as you pull the cables down. At the bottom of the pull, fully extend your arms back behind you, similar to a triceps kickback.
  • Reverse this movement and simultaneously reach your arms up as you lift up on the balls of your feet. Your arms and hips should be fully extended. Quickly pull back down and continue to repeat this motion.
  • Start with a medium pace to become comfortable with the movement. Once you've got it down, begin to increase your speed.
  • Beginners should go for 30 seconds, and intermediate/advanced levels should go for 45 seconds.
Seated Knee Tuck
POPSUGAR Photography | Tamara Pridgett

Seated Knee Tuck

  • Start seated on the ground or on a weight bench. Place your hands about an inch behind your back with your fingers facing forward. Your feet should be on the ground.
  • Lift both feet up off of the ground and extend both legs as you simultaneously lower your upper body. Be sure to get full extension at your hips and legs.
  • With control, bring your legs back to your chest without touching the ground with your feet and return to the starting position.
  • This counts as one rep. Complete 20 reps. Beginners should do 10 reps of the dead bug exercise.
Side Plank With Hip Dip
POPSUGAR Photography | Kathryna Hancock

Side Plank With Hip Dip

  • Begin in a side elbow plank on your right side with your heels stacked.
  • Inhale and lower your pelvis to the floor, so your right hip hovers just off the floor. Exhale and press up through your right waist to lift your pelvis and return to side plank. Pull your right shoulder blade down your back to stabilize your shoulder.
  • Complete 12 reps on each side. If this is too advanced, beginners can hold a side bridge or side plank for 15 seconds.
Assault Bike
POPSUGAR Photography | Tamara Pridgett

Assault Bike

  • Adjust the seat of the bike to your height before sitting down.
  • Once you're seated, place your feet on the pedals and your hands on the handles. The machine will turn on automatically as soon as you start moving.
  • With control (meaning your body isn't moving all over the place), begin to pedal your arms and legs (similar to the elliptical) as fast as you can.
  • Beginners should go until six calories have been burned (this will be shown on the display). Intermediate or advanced levels should go until 10 calories have been burned.
High Knees
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High Knees

  • Run in place while lifting your knees high to the level of your waist. Engage your abs as your knee comes up.
  • Pump your arms to warm up your upper body.
  • Each time your foot makes contact with the ground, that counts as one repetition.
  • Beginners should complete 20 reps, and intermediate/advanced levels should complete 30 reps.
Rotational Medicine Ball Slam and Toss
POPSUGAR Photography | Tamara Pridgett

Rotational Medicine Ball Slam and Toss

  • Start standing in front of a wall holding a six- to 10-pound soft-shell medicine ball in front of your body with your arms fully extended.
  • Engage your core, and raise the ball overhead. On an exhale, slam the ball down in front of you as hard as you can. Catch the ball after it bounces back up.
  • Once you've caught the ball, pivot on your left foot and step your right leg back simultaneously as you toss the ball as hard as you can at the wall. Catch the ball, and pivot back to the starting position.
  • This counts as one rep. Perform 10 reps tossing the ball to the right, take 30 seconds of rest, then repeat on the left side.
  • If this move is too advanced, beginners can do 10 reps of standard medicine ball slams.