Love lifting weights but hate cardio?
Trust us - we get it.
We’d much rather increase our heart rate with supersets in our workout than do so with a run.
While it’s common knowledge that cardio is important for heart health, most lifters don’t have the time or desire to incorporate cardio workouts on top of their strength training workouts. In fact, it remains a common joke among weightlifters to demonize cardio.
It's no laughing matter though, as heart disease is the top cause of mortality in the United States, with 525,000 experiencing their first heart attack every year. And a lack of both aerobic and muscle strengthening physical activity is a major risk factor for heart disease.
From the American Heart Association
When we train, we want to achieve overall fitness - not just muscle power and aesthetic gains. Although the fat loss that comes with cardio is a perk for those wanting to lean out for summer time.
While it might feel strange for a seasoned weightlifter to struggle with cardio exercises, fitness is all about balance. Balanced nutrition, balanced recovery, and balanced training - one that includes both cardio and strength training.
In this article, we cover:
- The Science Behind Cardio Conditioning
- Cardio Workouts for Strength Training Lovers
- Tips to Get Started
THE SCIENCE BEHIND CARDIO CONDITIONING
Research has shown that a high percentage of diseases are preventable with an active lifestyle with cardiovascular training.
So much of cardio is mental. Because we are putting our bodies through stress that reduces are capacity for comfortable breathing, our brains signal to us that it is dangerous and it’s time to stop. This is not the case - our minds will quit far earlier than our bodies will. Training cardio will increase mental strength that will take us further in weight lifting and in life.
Enhanced cardiovascular fitness improves the widening of blood vessels, allowing greater blood flow and nutrients to reach muscle tissues.
Because capillary density in muscle tissue is improved, oxygen is delivered and exchanged more efficiently, increasing muscle endurance.
Because cardiovascular activity increases the body’s ability to use and exchange oxygen, your body can recover quicker between heavy sets.
Recovery is an aerobic process that occurs with heart rates below your 60% HR Max zone. The more efficient your aerobic system, the quicker your recovery.
CARDIO WORKOUTS FOR STRENGTH TRAINING LOVERS
Weights for cardio?
You heard that right.
Weighted vests are a form of added resistance that improves blood lactate thresholds.
Endurance and sprint runners who incorporate weighted vest training can tolerate faster speeds for greater lengths of time before experiencing fatigue.
Training with a weighted vest also increases strength while improving bone mineral density.
Here are the top exercises to do with weighted vests:
If you are new to weighted vests, start light at first and add weights when you progress.
Adjustable Jump Rope
Looking for a fat burning HIIT workout?
Look no further than skipping.
Nope - not skipping workouts!
Jump rope is one of the most effective cardio exercises around and 10 minutes a day is comparable to a 30 minute run.
As you work on your skipping form, remember that your goal is speed and coordination.
Try this beginner routine to get started:
Skip on both feet for 10 skips, then shift to your right foot for 10 skips, then your left for 10 skips. Go back to both feet for 9 skips, then right and left for 9 each. Keep dropping a rep until you hit zero.
Already a pro? Try this intense Jump & Squat routine:
Jump rope jacks - 20 seconds
Rest - 10 seconds
Body weight squats - 20 seconds
Rest - 10 seconds
Side to side jumps - 20 seconds
Rest - 10 seconds
Alternating bodyweight lunges - 20 seconds
Rest - 10 seconds
Jump rope jack - 20 seconds
Rest - 10 seconds
Rest one minute.
Total workout time: 17.5 minutes
Featured in Photo: Better Body Air Bike
Don't let the name fool you - there is nothing airy or easy about this type of stationary bike.
Also known as the assault bike, this piece of equipment requires you to pedal while pushing and pulling the handles. This means you can work out your entire body with one single machine, burning up to 80 calories per minute.
The faster you go? The harder it gets - making it the perfect cardio workout for strength training lovers.
It’s so powerful for training, it’s what Australian athlete Liz Llorente used to achieve the Guiness World Record of 1490 burpees in an hour.
Try this pyramid interval on your next training session.
Minute 1: 10 sec sprint, 50 seconds rest
Minute 2: 20 sec sprint, 40 seconds rest
Minute 3: 30 sec sprint, 30 seconds rest
Minutes 4: 40 sec sprint, 20 seconds rest
Minute 5: 50 sec sprint, 10 seconds rest
Minute 6: 40 sec sprint, 20 seconds rest
Minute 7: 30 sec sprint, 30 seconds rest
Minute 8: 20 sec sprint, 40 seconds rest
Minute 9: 10 sec sprint, 50 seconds rest
Throwing these thick, heavy ropes gives you a ruthlessly effective workout that allows increased strength, fat loss and cardio training.
Here are some tips to make the most of your battle ropes routine:
Get your grip right.
The ideal grip is the hand and fingers on the handle, but with the thumb off the handle on the rope itself, with your hands facing each other. This allows you to flick the wrist and keeping a solid hold throughout your entire set.
Keep a solid stance.
Stand with your feet silghtly wider than shoulder width apart with a slight bend in your hips and knees.
Flick with your wrist.
Visualize throwing the ropes up and away by flicking your wrist quickly to raise and lower them, alternatin your hands. Breathe. Don't forget to breathe! This is a challenging workout for both strength and heart so take long deep breaths.
Try this endurance test on your next training session:
Alternate single arm rope whips. Work for 30 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds.
Complete as many intervals as possible, keeping a steady pace without dropping the rope.
Other variations to try:
- Biceps Wave
- Lateral Whip
- Outside Spiral
- Jumping Slam
- Full Circle Wave
- Alternating Rope Whips
Featured in Photo: Better Body Manual Treadmill
Manual treadmills are not for the faint of heart.
Unlike electric treadmills which set the pace for you to keep up - manual treadmills require the runner to stay focused and work hard to maintain their speed. This requires more energy and more muscle recruitment - thus burning more calories.
Not only are these more affordable than their electric counterparts, manual treadmills also offer you an efficient cardio workout without any wires to plug in.
These are great for sprint intervals of 400m or less because the belt allows you to run as fast as you can then slow down naturally as your sprint interval comes to an end.
Doing both cardio and strength training is a surefire way to zap fat in time for summer.
Try a fast paced full body power circuit with a set of adjustable dumbbells to make your strength training as challenging as possible.
Superset your strength exercises with a HIIT cardio exercise listed above - like skip rope or battle ropes.
Cardio Tips for Weightlifters Getting Lean for Summer
Choose cardio exercises that you enjoy.
As you can see from this article, there is a plethora of cardio exercises available for you to try. Choose one that you actually enjoy and you'll be able to stick to it.
Plan your sessions.
You don't want to overdo your training or you risk injury. You also don't want to do cardio too much that you break down your muscles instead of your fat. A 30 minute heart rate increasing workout 3 times a week is a sweet spot for weightlifters.
Like with lifting weights, proper form is necessary for reducing stress and injury during cardio workouts. Get used to the movements and focus on your form.
Get that heart rate up.
We hope this article helped you see that there is way more to cardio than running.
There are tons of cardio workouts strength training lovers can do to challenge their minds and muscles while improving cardiovascular activity.
No matter what your fitness goal is, we’re here to get you equipped for your Better Body.
Feel free to explore the equipment featured above, and our list of Best Sellers.