Okay, there’s a great stereotype that women love cardio and men love to push big heavyweights around. This is a stereotype that a lot of people actually believe and practice. Cardiovascular exercise works great for everyone; whether you are a 90-year-old grandma or a hot 17 ½-year-old cheerleader (at risk of sounding creepy here, let’s call her 18). The problem, however, is a lot of people who use cardio to lose weight and stay fit do ignore the benefits of strength training. Let’s take a look at seven great exercises that sneaks a little strength training into the cardio.
#7. Kettle Bells – Build Stamina and Strength and a Sexy Body
There is no need to work out for hours on end in the gym. If you hate running, and want your workouts to be intense, but short, take a look at kettle bells. In the old days when female Russian athletes often shave their faces as well as their legs, this piece of equipment was the USSR’s top secret weapon.
Take a solid metal bowling ball and attach the handle to it and you got a kettle bell. These days are not necessarily made of iron or even round for that matter. Kettle bells have appeared on the market here in North America over the last two decades. The exercises require stamina as well as core strength. An offer both cardiovascular improvement as well as upper body, lower body and core strength development.
Many of these kettle bell workouts are brutal but effective. In 30 minutes you can perform a circuit of six moves that burn the fat off your body while your lungs feel like your breathing jalapeno gas. Of course you don’t have to go all out, you can start off slow, lighter weights and build up your stamina and resistance.
Deadlifts – working with kettle bells effectively is similar to learning how to play tennis or hit a baseball. It’s not so much powering up a swing as it is using your entire body to control your movement. When using the kettle bells for a dead lift, for example, your glutes, core and hamstrings come into play to help you start the swinging process from your hips into the air.
The classic kettle bell swing – but two hand swing is a total body workout that will definitely get your heart rate up. You can go from the two hand swing to single hand swings generating power from the hips. Ladies love this workout because it builds strong, shapely butts and thighs.
# 6. Jump rope – The Old School for Getting Fit and Firm
If you haven’t done any double Dutch in 20 years, don’t worry working the jump rope may take some time to perfect but it’s worth it. Not only is this exercise challenging in terms of cardiovascular effort, it also works the shoulders, back and core.
One of the reasons why boxers employ jump rope as part of their routine is the development of timing and rhythm. Sure, it’s not easy to rock the rope when you start; as a matter of fact it can be downright frustrating. However, once you get a sense of timing and learn how to lift your feet 1 inch off the floor in rhythm with the rope, there’s nothing like it for developing fitness and stamina.
A word of caution; jumping rope is high impact and all of your weight will come bearing down on the balls of your feet. Avoid jumping rope on concrete or very hard surfaces unless you have the physique of a prima ballerina. Choose a wooden floor with carpeting on top to cushion the impact.
#5. Elliptical Machines – The Versatile System for Killer Weight Loss and Fitness
If you’re into controlled environments and working out while vegging, and elliptical machine can help you get into exercise. These machines allow you to work the upper and lower body at the same time while elevating your heart rate. Unlike treadmills, elliptical machines allow you to control the tension in your arm movements to help strengthen shoulders, chest and back muscles.
They allow you to work at granny mode, supermodel mode or even Olympic gold medal mode. Just choose the settings that are right for your current level of fitness since most elliptical machines offer custom settings for a gentle stroll all the way up to soul crushing high intensity interval workouts (HIIT). If the great outdoors leaves you sneezing hacking and coughing, this is a good way to get an overall strength building cardio session while watching your favorite soaps.
#4. Cardio Bodyweight Exercises – The Best of Both Worlds in One Workout
If you’re the type of person that likes old-school calisthenics, it’s coming back into vogue. These days, high intensity bodyweight exercises have replaced high impact aerobics as a popular fitness regimen. Cardio based bodyweight exercises allow you to safely work your muscles and your lungs to peak efficiency from your living room carpet.
Sessions can last from 30 minutes to an hour depending on your program. There are plenty of videos out there to choose from that offer beginner, intermediate and advanced exercises. A 30 minute session may include 25 to 30 exercises starting with warm-ups, leading to body part workouts. Each session usually covers upper body, core and lower body fitness routines with just a few breaks in between.
#3. Full Body Strength and Cardio Workouts – Many Fitness Boot Camps Swear By Them
This series of exercises combines floor movements with weights. Many of the sessions are similar to body weight workouts where calisthenics work in conjunction with dumbbell exercises. Many of the workouts in this exercise format come in pairs that are good for you (like chocolate and peanut butter).
Here are a couple of examples:
• Jumping oblique twists and sumo squats with dumbbells
• V hops and ski squats with triceps kickbacks
• Lateral jumps paired with rear crossover lunges with lateral raises
• Squat hops and toe crunches with dumbbell pullovers
• Jumping jacks and bridge with chest presses
• Deadlifts with wide rows combined with high knees
You can burn a significant amount of calories and fat in a short period of time if you execute this workout three or four times a week. The beauty of this simple routine is in its adaptability. You can start off slow and easy while developing stamina and strength. Later on you can kick this up all the way to 110% where you’ll be increasing your metabolic rate, and burning fat for up to 48 hours.
#2. Circuit Training – A Great System for Getting Fit and Shapely
This particular routine has been around for quite a long time and very popular with female oriented fitness clubs. Members go from one workout station to the next accomplishing a specific amount of reps or working at that station for a specific amount of time; workouts usually last between 30 minutes and 45 minutes.
Circuit training exercises combine the qualities of strength training and cardiovascular training with little or no rest in between sets. Exercises may include lightweights such as five or 10 pound dumbbells or bodyweight exercises along with universal gym equipment. There is no need to go to a gym or specialized fitness club to gain the benefits of circuit training. You can accomplish an effective workout at home with the jump rope, 5 pound and 10 pound dumbbells, an exercise ball and the yoga mat.
Exercises can be easy or hard depending on your level of fitness. Always start circuit training with a warm-up for 5 to 10 minutes. Many strength training exercises within the circuit are executed in 60 seconds before moving on to the next routine (usually cardio) all the way through to the end. Circuit training usually works the full range of muscles in one session.
#1. HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training
This system has gained a sterling reputation for burning fat and getting people fit in a short amount of time. When I say short amount of time I mean 15 to 20 minutes a week! That’s right, I didn’t stutter on that one; people have seen significant improvement in fat loss and fitness with 20 minutes of exercises a week.
The best HIIT workouts are brutal. They are a combination of weights, bodyweight exercises and lung busting cardio routines. The variable intensity means working as hard as you possibly can for short intervals then tapering down before revving up again. Strength and cardio routines call for 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off, for example.
Here is a sample workout routine:
Warm-up for 10 minutes
- Pushups, and dumbbell rows
- Sumo squats and overhead press
- Extended plank and burpees
- Jump rope and Kettlebells
Believe it or not, you can get through the entire routine in less than 10 minutes (and do so without throwing up) while gaining marked improvement in cardiovascular fitness and endurance. In many cases, the warm-up and cool down. May last longer than the exercise session.
One of the biggest issues with overcoming the difficulties of these routines is getting used to the various exercises and keeping the form. A few fitness gurus recommend a rehearsal period. In much the way martial artists practice an entire routine in slow motion to gain full understanding of the body mechanics of their martial arts moves.
Complete a few dry runs without weights or time constraints. For example, if you’re not physically fit at this point, go through the motions. Mimic the actions of jump roping without the rope or do the push ups on your knees instead of your toes.
So depending on your fitness profile, you may be able to gain a lot of benefit from any of the above workout routines. Be sure to get a full physical before undertaking any exercise and diet program that may adversely affect your body. There is no sense in adopting a new fitness routine unless your body can adapt and benefit from the experience without being crippled in the process.
In the end, it’s more important to be consistent with your activity level than it is to blast away in a blaze of glory for a week or two only to stop working out entirely due to injury or fear or pain. Work out at your own pace and never let any coach or fitness guru push past your limits unless you feel that you are physically capable of going the distance.