Good alternatives to running while indoors

Good alternatives to running while indoors

Whether you are searching for alternatives to bring different workouts to your training program or recovering from an injury, there are plenty of options you can do indoors. Sometimes, a little bit of change can spice up your training routine and give you extra motivation to keep going.

Cross-training is a term that has been used to designate randomized training modalities, both high and low intensity. It is a training routine that involves several types of exercises to improve overall performance. This kind of training can limit the stress that occurs in specific muscle groups because it works the whole body in slightly different ways than running. It can complement your normal training routine, help build muscle strength and power and identify muscle imbalances and weaknesses, all of which can reduce the risk of injuries.

Cross-training is also a great option to keep on training during the off-season because it allows you to challenge your body in a new manner to maintain overall fitness and stay mentally fresh.

Here are some of the best cross-training workouts you can do without leaving the comfort of your home:

Skipping rope

Skipping rope is not just for kids and it can be as fun as it is challenging. 

Skipping rope is amazingly affordable and you can do it in a small room with minimal equipment. The constant jumping builds lower body and core strength, improving power and endurance without putting too much stress on your joints as it provides far less impact compared to running. It is also effective in training to keep your feet less time on the ground, increasing speed and agility and helps you to work on balance and coordination. All these abilities together are important to make you a better and faster runner.

Skipping rope can also benefit runners regarding better posture. The jumping repetition requires a straight spine which is also very important for the optimal running form.

Stair climbing

Turn your home or apartment’s staircase into a gym. Stair workouts are plyometric exercises which aid not only leg muscles strengthening but also provide a good dose of high-intensity cardio with the benefit of putting less pressure on the joints from the impact in comparison to running. Plyometrics or neuromuscular training have been proved to be a great complementary component to runner’s training program as they improve speed, agility, vertical jump and decrease the risk of injuries.  

Your body is forced to move in a vertical pattern, resisting gravity which tends to be more demanding for the lower body muscles. Moreover, the inclination makes the workouts even more demanding as you perform them at a high heart rate, improving your VO2 max - the maximum amount of oxygen you can use during intense exercise. You can strengthen muscles that you use for running, improve your heart pump and oxygen intake by giving your body a new stimulus.

Stationary cycling

Cycling is an excellent alternative to running, whether you are recovering from a running-related injury or as part of your training program. You have the same cardiovascular benefits as in running and also strengthen your leg muscles doing a low impact activity, making this option a great one for cross-training workout. Cycling indoors offers you a very accurate effort level and your high-intensity sessions can be more effective. Doing intervals on a bike is a great way to replicate the intensity of a running workout without the impact. Moreover, you can cycle indoors at any time of the day, come rain or shine.

Strength training

One of the best cross-training options for runners (and athletes in general), it prevents injuries by strengthening the most required muscles in running, creating optimal body balance to enhance performance. Strength exercises can be done at home using your own body weight,  free weights or therabands to add resistance and increase intensity. Strength training also improves neuromuscular coordination and power which leads to running economy and stride efficiency. A good strengthening program should include not only lower body exercises, but also the upper body to get more stability and better running form.


A basic yoga routine can do wonders for your body. It releases tension on tight muscles overworked from running, particularly calves, glutes, quads, hamstrings and hip flexors. Stretching helps to recover tired and sore muscles, increasing range of motion to get your body fully restored for the next run.

Some poses can activate neglected muscles you don't usually pay attention to when you are running and work on core strength, reducing late fatigue and improving running form. 

The combination of stretching and strengthening through yoga poses makes your body move in several planes of motion, giving you more agility and also making you a less injury-prone runner. 

Another good thing about yoga is that it can be as meditative as running. You learn to be more aware of your body and your breathing. The mental challenge to hold a difficult pose can teach you how to maintain the right mindset to keep running when things get tough. After all, running is not just a physical exercise, it is also largely a mental exercise. You learn to practice mindfulness while running and that can make all the difference over your training and racing results.

Human body is very adaptable. Working out the same muscles, the same way for a long period will eventually lead you to a plateau. Cross-training may be a good idea to give your body a new boost and take your performance to a higher level.

Start by trying new exercises and choose a complementary activity that you enjoy, making adjustments to your training schedule. The variety of cross-training workouts allows you to pick what works best for you.

If you are going through a rehabilitation period, you can focus on a low impact cross-training routine that works out different muscles not to compromise your recovery, keeping your fitness loss to a minimum.

As you decide to incorporate cross-training workouts to your weekly routine, be mindful not to overload your training schedule. Think wisely of how much training you can endure without creating unnecessary physical stress and compromising your running workouts.