High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is certainly having a moment in the fitness spotlight. After all, it gets your heart pumping, muscles flexing and metabolism revving in one quick session. But we all have days when we just can't muster another burpee or mountain climber.
Fortunately, combining strength and cardio doesn't need to be a high-intensity endeavor. If you want to cut down on your total gym time without committing to a full-on HIIT session, try this treadmill and dumbbell circuit workout that will burn fat without skyrocketing your heart rate.
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Benefits of Combining Cardio and Strength Training
Weight-room regulars praise strength training as the key to weight loss, while cardio queens (and kings) defend their preferred training method as the best way to torch calories. As with most hotly debated topics, the reality isn't so black and white.
In fact, those who do both may experience the greatest health benefits. After reviewing data from nearly 1.7 million US adults, researchers of a November 2019 study published in Obesity found that fulfilling both aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercise guidelines was associated with lower levels of obesity, compared to either one solo.
And tackling both in a single sweat session cuts down on your time in the gym. For example, compound exercises (ones that involve move than one joint), like dumbbell thrusters or renegade rows, elevate your heart rate, strengthen your muscles and burn more calories than isolation (single-joint) exercises, according to the American Council on Exercise.
Or, you can switch between strength and cardio intervals in your workout. This type of training will keep your heart rate elevated even while you hit the weights. Give the below workout a try and reap the benefits of a two-in-one workout.
Read more: Cardio vs. Strength: Which Comes First?
The Treadmill + Dumbbells Circuit Workout
For this workout, crafted by Matt Cheng, CSCS, all you need is a treadmill and pair of light to moderate dumbbells. If you don't have a treadmill available, you can do the jogging portion around your neighborhood. And if you don't have a pair of dumbbells handy, use two filled gallon water bottles instead.
As you move between the floor and treadmill, avoid potential injury by stopping the treadmill completely before hopping off. It may be tempting to jump back and forth between the two, but rolling an ankle isn't worth it. Also, keep your dumbbells several feet behind your treadmill to avoid tripping over them.
Move 1: Half-Mile Jog
- Jog for a half mile at a comfortable pace you'll be able to maintain throughout the workout.
- Slow your treadmill until it comes to a full stop.
Move 2: Dumbbell Renegade Rows
- Move to the floor and place your dumbbells on the ground shoulder-width apart.
- Come into a high plank with your hands either on the inside or outside of the dumbbells. Keep your body in a straight line from head to hips to toes.
- Maintaining a flat back, grab one dumbbell in your right hand and row it up to your ribs, keeping your elbows close to your sides.
- Place the dumbbell back on the ground and repeat the motion with the other arm.
- Alternate dumbbells for 30 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds.
If you have trouble holding the plank with good form, modify by dropping to your knees. Keep your back flat as you perform the move from here.
Move 3: Half-Mile Jog
- Jog at a steady pace for another half mile.
- Slow the treadmill and safely move to the ground.
Move 4: Double Dumbbell Hang Snatch
- Stand with legs shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand.
- Bend at the knees and, sending your hips back and your back flat, come into a hip hinge. Hold the dumbbells with arms extended between your bent legs.
- Raise the dumbbells in front of you and simultaneously straighten your legs.
- Once the dumbbells reach shoulder height, rotate your elbows so that they're under the dumbbells and, with a little jump, use the momentum of the weights to press them over head.
- Bring the weights back to shoulder height with control and hinge at your hips to bring the weights down to hover over the ground.
- Repeat this move for 30 seconds, resting as needed before the next run.
"Start with the dumbbells at shin level. Initiate the movement by pushing through the floor," Cheng says. "Use the momentum to guide the dumbbells into an overhead position." If you want to make the move simpler, take the swing or momentum out of the move, which will turn it into a deadlift to overhead press.
Read more: 16 Essential CrossFit Moves to Master
Move 5: Half-Mile Jog
- At a comfortable pace, jog for another half mile.
- Return to the floor after bringing the treadmill to a stop.
Move 6: Hollow Body Hold
- Lie flat on your back.
- Extend your legs and arms until your arms are above your head and legs are straight out, all four limbs hovering above the ground. Keep your back slightly rounded and abdomen hollow.
- Maintain this hold for 30 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds before moving to the next round.
This is a challenging ab exercise. If you can't maintain a hollow hold, modify by holding your arms at your sides and bringing your legs to tabletop position, bent at a 90-degree angle with your shins parallel to the ground.
Move 7: Half-Mile Run
- Complete your final half-mile jog.
- Before you move to the ground, bring the treadmill to a full stop.
Move 8: Dumbbell Shoulder Press
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand and bring them to shoulder height, standing up straight, feet hip-width apart.
- Squeeze your glutes and engage your core before pressing the weights over your head.
- Bring the weights back to shoulder height with control.
- Repeat this movement for 30 seconds.
As you perform this exercise, avoid overarching or straining your back by choosing a more moderate weight. This will help you perform the overhead press with good form.
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