Here’s a little secret that will firmly cement my seat at the not-cool-kids table.
I like cardio workouts. Yes, even though it’s really popular to diss them as somehow being “less-than” what happens in the weight room.
Let us count the ways to love cardio, shall we? With actual science to back it up:
- You can listen to good music and zone out (1).
- Playing little games like going harder for a minute or two, or changing inclines, keeps it interesting and more effective (2).
- It clears your mind of the stresses of the day (3).
- Your mood improves significantly (4).
- Feeling in “cardio shape” – being able to sprint up a couple flights of stairs without getting out of breath – is a good thing.
- Plus, oh yeah, your health: it helps fight cancer, heart disease, diabetes, brain degeneration, disease-causing inflammation, and way, way, way more (5).
But yes, there’s that awful middle-of-the-workout realization: “OMG I have to do this for 15 more minutes?”
And on busy days, having to choose between weights OR cardio kind of sucks, because chances are you want the results of BOTH.
Here’s a solution that will:
Cardio + Weights = Better Results
Have you ever noticed that some people spend an awful lot of time doing cardio, but they never really change how they look?
Or if they do change, they are just smaller versions of their old selves, not necessarily “toned” looking?
That won’t happen with this kind of workout.
Because what you’re going to do is put an intensity-based resistance-training circuit in the middle of your cardio workout.
When you add a burst of intensity to your workout, you increase its effectiveness for burning fat. Plus, when those intense bursts involve resistance training, you get muscle-building benefits.
Having more muscle is good for a lot of reasons – not only does it make you stronger, but it revs your metabolism a bit.
Plus, as you get older, it’s normal to lose some muscle. The older you get, the faster this muscle loss happens, unless you take measures to help slow it. This is why I always advise my clients to pack on the muscle now, because they’ll be glad later that they did so (it’s kind of like saving your $$ for retirement).
The circuit below will burn more calories, work more muscles, and boost your overall results compared to a steady-state (i.e., plugging along at a steady pace the entire time) cardio workout.
For what it’s worth, when I’m faced with a cardio machine workout, I almost always end up doing something similar to the workout below.
Treadmill Cardio Workout
If you don’t have a treadmill, that’s cool – you actually can use any kind of cardio machine: elliptical, Stepmill, bike, etc.
Beyond that, all you need is a set of dumbbells. If you have a TRX suspension trainer, you can also use that for the rows and/or push-ups.
Warm up with 5 to 10 minutes of cardio on the machine of your choice.
Then, get off the machine and do the following:
- 30 jumping jacks
- 15 push-ups
- 30 alternating reverse lunges
- 15 overhead dumbbell presses
- 30 bodyweight squats (or front squats, holding a dumbbell in front of you for additional resistance)
- 15 bodyweight inverse rows/TRX rows or dumbbell/barbell bent-over rows
- Get back on the machine for 5 minutes, alternating 1 minute easy/1 minute hard intervals.
- Repeat for a total of 20 to 25 minutes before cooling down on the cardio equipment to return your heart rate to normal.
Cardio+Weights Workout Facts
Here are some quick details about this fat-burning, muscle-sculpting workout.
1. Who Is This Workout For?
Pretty much anyone can do this workout. If you’re new to exercise or it’s been a while, definitely use a light weights and pace yourself, as this is a sneaky one. In fact, I’d recommend doing a little less than you think you should the first time through.
2. How Long Does This Workout Take?
This workout should take around 30 minutes.
3. How Often Should I Do This Workout?
If you’re doing total-body workouts like this one, you will want to take a day off between them, as the actual change within your muscles occurs during the time BETWEEN workouts.
That being said, if you use very light weights and/or just the weight of your body (like with the TRX), you could so a similar workout daily – just use different exercises.
4. What Muscles Does It Work?
This one primarily works your cardiovascular system along with your body’s biggest “fat-burning” muscles: legs, back, and chest.
Mix It Up To Keep It Up
Two big reasons people stop working out: lack of time and boredom!
This workout beats both of those issues. Give it a try and let me know how you do!
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