Mark Levine, Personal Trainer from Midtown Athletic Club in Bannockburn, IL, takes over the blog today to discuss the benefits of combining cardio and strength-training into a single workout, especially during the busy summer months when you might have less time to devote to staying fit.
Summer schedules are packed with activities, from weekend graduation parties to weddings to serving as your kids’ camp taxi. If you’re finding it difficult to squeeze in both cardio and strength-training workouts, your best bet is to combine the two into a single workout in the weight room.
#1. Circuit Train
The best way to burn fat is to build muscle with strength training. Train in a circuit versus completing a single exercise.
An example of a single exercise is sitting on the Lat Pulldown machine and knocking out three sets of 10 repetitions, and then moving on to a Chest Press machine. The problem with this approach is that you are working a single muscle and also incorporating too much rest into your workout. This type of workout takes time and doesn’t stoke the metabolism as much as circuit training.
Instead, choose 4-to-5 exercises and complete these exercises with no rest in between. Complete a rest period of 1-to-2 minutes after the last exercise.
Here is an example of a workout circuit:
Complete Four Rounds with No Rest Between Exercises
Seated Row or TRX Row (12 Repetitions)
MB Squat with Overhead Press (12 Repetitions)
Seated Chest Press, TRX Chest Press, or Pushups (10-to-12 Repetitions)
Standing Forward Lunge with Dumbbell Curls (12 Repetions)
#2. Add a Cardio Station to the Circuit
Try adding a 250-meter row, a one-minute run/jog, or a one-minute bicycle sprint at the end of your circuit. If you have the capabilities and knowledge, you can do 6 burpees or 12 kettlebell swings.
#3. Less Talk, More Walk
One of the main reasons circuit training is a great way to get a cardiovascular workout is that there is no rest between exercises. You don’t rest after every minute on the treadmill, so why should you rest between exercises? By reducing the rest period, your level of cardio will increase.
#4. Add a Finisher to Your Workout
After you’re done with four rounds of the circuit or two different circuits, end with a “finisher.” A finisher is an exercise that will keep the heart rate in the aerobic level. Depending on your fitness level, you can choose one of the following, and perform the exercise for ten minutes:
Beginner- Rowing quickly for 30 seconds and then have 30 seconds of recovery time (or whatever is needed).
Intermediate- Rapidly walking/jogging for 30 seconds, followed by a 30-second recovery period.
Advanced- 5-to-8 burpees or 10-to-12 kettlebell swings each minute for 10 minutes. If it takes 20 seconds to do the exercise, then you get a 40-second rest period.
#5. Always Have A Plan
When you walk into the weight room, always make sure you have a plan. In the example circuit workout provided above, you’ll notice that you are working the upper body, followed by a lower-body exercise. This plan allows you to rest the upper body while you’re working the lower body. It also incorporates compound exercises (where you work more than one body part at a time), in the forward lunge with a dumbbell curl.
The next time you’re at the club and heading toward the treadmill or elliptical, try circuit training in the weight room instead. It’s a great way to get your cardio, burn fat, and build muscle in a single workout.