If you're like many weightlifters, you might think of cardio as a chore that you dread doing. Trust me, I've been there and know the feeling.
However, it isn't a good idea to just skip cardio all together. A good cardio endurance can pay heavy dividends on our lifting gains, our muscular endurance, our abs and just our overall health fitness.
If you are like me and can not stand going for a long, exhausting run after a hard workout, then I would suggest trying a strength training workout that has a cardio workout built in.
There are many ways to accomplish this and various different forms of workouts that allow you to gain muscle endurance and cardio endurance at the same time.
Below I've provided you with four workout options that allow you to gain strength and cardio in the same workout.
So don't neglect cardio and try one(or all) of these cardio workouts for strength training out.
1. Body Weight Circuit
A body weight circuit workout is perfect because it doesn’t require any weights whatsoever, and therefore can be completed anywhere and at any time. However, don’t let the idea of “no weights” fool you in to believing this will be an easy workout. It will be far from it, actually.
25 Push ups - You will start the workout out by doing 25 push ups. Be sure to exercise proper form as you do these. Keep your body tight and parallel and your elbows close to your body. Lower your body until your chest is barely off the ground and then explode back up.
15 Box Jumps - It’s now time for the actual cardio. I would recommend using a box that goes up to your knee or just below your knee. You can also stack bumper plates up in order to create your “box.” As you start the exercise, be sure to explode off the ground and make sure to completely reset before each jump.
8-10 Pull ups - Ideally you will want to complete ten pull ups, but if you can’t then no problem. Push yourself to do as many as you can, whether it’s four or fourteen. Make sure to use proper form. Don’t cheat yourself and make sure your chin gets all the way above the bar and your arms straighten out when you go down.
10 Burpees - Of course, you will finish the workout with the most demanding exercise. As you do the burpees, it is essential that you remember proper form and stay in control of your body. Give it all you have on this last exercise and make sure you don’t cut yourself short.
Swimming is an excellent workout for both cardio and strength training as it works every single muscle in the body and is sure to leave you feeling exhausted by the end of the workout. This workout, which also doesn’t require any weights, is certainly not an easy one so prepare yourself and try and avoid cramping up during the swim.
Warm up - For the warm up, you will do kicks with a kick board. The important thing with this is to not wear yourself out before the workout, so only exert 40-50% effort. Do 4 x 100 meters.
500 Meters Front Stroke at 50% - You will start the workout by doing 500 meters non stop at 50% of your full speed effort. Try and not go too fast on this exercise as the workout will get harder as things progress.
500 Meters Front Stroke at 75% - Same concept applies here except you will be at 75% effort this time, so you should be exerting a good amount of effort on this.
500 Meters Front Stroke at 100% - Are you ready to challenge yourself? I hope so because it is time to burn out. The goal with this is to finish 500 meters and really push yourself to do so. However, if it becomes too difficult that is okay. Make sure to swim as fast as you can, but remember to stay in control as you do.\
200 Meters Backstroke - Think of these backstrokes as a leisure cool down. It should not be strenuous at all. Take your time, relax and enjoy the easy swim to finish.
3. Battle Ropes
A battle rope workout is one of the best ways to improve your cardio and your strength at the same time. Battle ropes require you to utilize your upper body, lower body and your abs, while at the same time increasing your heart rate.
This workout is a great way to improve both your cardio endurance and your muscle endurance.
30 Seconds of Battle Rope Slams - For this battle rope exercise, you will start standing in an athletic stance with your knees slightly bent. As you begin, raise the battle rope over your head and then quickly pull the ropes down as hard as you can while lowering your lower body into more of a squat position.
30 Seconds Battle Rope Alternating Wave - For this exercise, you will start in a similar stance as the battle rope slams, except you will be standing straight up as opposed to having your knees slightly bent. As you begin, you will raise your right hand and lower your left hand and then switch. This should create an alternating wave position with the rope. Speed up the rate as you progress through the exercise.
30 Seconds Battle Rope Claps - For battle rope claps, you will be in a lower position with your knees bent and your chest slightly out in front of your body. You should be holding the rope just above waist level. As you begin, you will swing the rope side to side in small motions, but you will not cross your hands. Think of this exercise in terms of a clapping motion with your hands.
Battle Rope Circles - Battle rope circles are somewhat similar to battle rope claps. You will start in the same lower position with your chest out in front of your body and your hands just above waist level. As you begin, you will rotate the ropes internally in a circular motion, meaning the rope rotation will be going towards one another.
Although this workout requires some expensive equipment and can be a pain to work out the details of where you will perform it, biking can be one of the best ways to gain cardio endurance while strength training. Sure, biking is more of a cardio exercise than it is a strength training, but biking is sure to deliver an amazing workout for your core and lower body as well.
5 Minutes at 50% Effort - You will start out the first five minutes of this workout by riding at a slow pace to warm up and get acquainted with the bike. Be sure not to exert too much effort when you start out. Simply loosen the muscles and get comfortable with the bike.
5 Minutes at 90% Effort - After the five minute warm up period, you will ride at a 90% pace for the next five minutes. This can become challenging towards the end. Make sure to keep control of your body and push it through.
5 Minutes at 50% Effort - Think of this as a rest period. You should ride at a very casual 50% pace and try and regain your energy before the next segment. If you need to stop for a second then do so, but try your best not to.
5 Minutes at 90% Effort - It's time to go fast again. This is the last fast paced segment of the workout. Be sure to give it all you have while staying in control of your breathing and also the bike.
10 Minutes at 50% Effort - The last ten minutes is more of a cool down period than it is a workout. After the first twenty minutes, you will certainly have an increased heart rate, so it is good to gradually bring your heart rate back down instead of stopping suddenly.
Let Us Know What You Think
Hopefully you decide to try one of these workouts. Remember, you are only going to limit your gains if you constantly neglect cardio.
These workout not only provide a solution to the cardio portion of a workout, but they can actually be fun and enjoyable. Whereas running is a pain in the ass and serves no direct benefit to our weightlifting goals, these workouts directly affect both our cardio endurance and our muscular endurance.
So get the most out of your body and try one of these four cardio workouts for strength training and let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.
If you're interested in other forms of cardio workouts, check out the workouts section of our website.