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  • Writer's pictureAmy Hildebrandt

Learn to Love Cardio Strength Workouts

I have a love/hate relationship with cardio strength workouts. In the moment, I am usually thinking 1 of 2 things:

· “What did I get myself into?”

· “Heart. Is. Beating. So. Fast! How. Many. More. Reps?”

Afterwards, I feel so accomplished. After I can breathe again, I feel so strong! Let’s do it again! Bring it on! Then they cycle starts again of pain, questioning myself, to feeling awesomeness!

What are Cardio Strength Workouts?

The simplest definition is a workout that is a combination of aerobic and strength (weighted exercises). It can be 1 part of strictly aerobic and 1 part strictly strength. The aerobic portion consists of 20-30 minutes of higher intensity exercise. If you can hold a conversation or speak in full sentences, you are taking it too easy. The strength portion consists of 20-30 minutes of any number of weighted exercises.

A different version of cardio strength is high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Exercises are all out, or maximal effort, at a relatively quick tempo for a specific interval of time with a rest interval between each exercise or after a set of exercises. Heart rate is at 80 percent of maximum capacity or higher, depending on individual physiology. HIIT workouts can be very appealing when you have a limited amount of time and want to complete an intense workout. They are also very popular in gyms with group workouts. Some are strictly aerobic, such as a track or cycle workout.

Tabata Workout

In my personal opinion, one of the best types of HIIT is a Tabata workout. “What in the world is a Tabata?” Well, I’m glad you asked! Tabata is a 4-minute workout broken into 8 segments of 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off. During the 20 seconds, it is maximum effort. It can feel like the longest 20 seconds of your life. You can either do 1 exercise 8 times or 2 exercises 4 times.


· 20 secs of Squat Jumps

· 10 secs Rest

· 8 Times Through, 4mins Total


· 20 secs of Squat Jumps

· 10 secs Rest

· 20 secs of Mountain Climbers

· 10 secs Rest

· 4 Times Through, 4mins Total

Ready to Move

For this blog’s purpose, I will focus more on an integration of weighted exercises. Since we have the LWRC gym available to us, why not use its full resources? I personally enjoy doing a set of exercises with set reps with set rest for 3-4 rounds. Then end with a Tabata. Length of workout will depend on how many exercises and how long it takes you to complete the reps. Exercises occur back-to-back.

REMEMBER this is maximal effort so you are cheating yourself if you slow down and can hold a conversation. Take advantage of your rest period! Hydrate and try to slow down your breathing. Inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth.

Note: I am not a proponent of just getting through a movement without thought into form. You can slow down if it means performing an exercise correctly but still at maximal effort.

Below is a sample workout. If you have any questions or need a modification due to difficulty or injury for any of the exercises, feel free to reach out. Get sweaty and have fun!

Sample Workout

Warm up:

· 10 each leg Hip Openers

Internal and external rotation

You can bring your foot down after each rotation

· 10 each Reverse Lunge to Overhead Reach

Find your balance before reaching

Only reach as far as it is comfortable

· 10 each Thread the Needle

· 30 Jumping Jacks

Let’s Get Sweaty – 3mins rest after each round, 3 rounds

Feel spicy? Go for round 4!

Choose a weight that you can get quality reps but is still challenging.

· 15 Squats with Dumbbells

Hold DBs at your side

· 10 each Side to Side Lunges with DBs

DBs will be on each side of your leading leg

I prefer staying on one side and then switch

Go to your knees if you need to

Keep hips square, parallel to the ground

KEY: Active Core Engagement!

4-5mins Rest

Finisher – Tabata

4mins – 8 x 20”on/10”off

· Mountain Climbers

Modification: Step your feet back into your hands instead of hop


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