This Quick Workout Combines Cardio and Strength for When You Have Zero Time

Kettlebell swings are a full-body exercise that strengthen your muscles and torch calories.
Image Credit: petesphotography/E+/GettyImages

Cardio vs. strength. Abs vs. glutes. Dumbbells vs. body weight. Instead of choosing, why not do a workout that gives you a little bit of everything? This full-body cardio and strength workout does exactly that.

"I love this workout because it's a mash-up of several training systems that stimulate high muscle recruitment, mental and physical stamina, as well as an underlying elevated heart rate that's gonna keep you burning fat throughout," Jen Widerstrom, celebrity fitness trainer and head transformation coach for Transformation Protein's 60-Day Total-Body Challenge, tells LIVESTRONG.com.

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Grab a pair of dumbbells (or one of these creative alternatives) plus a kettlebell and jump rope if you have them, and get ready to sweat through this tough but effective workout you can do at home.

Try This Full-Body Strength Workout

This workout — designed by Widerstrom — is part of her 60-day transformation program and hits all the essentials: cardio and strength; arms, abs, glutes and legs; dumbbells, kettlebells and body weight.

Warm-Up

Do:​ 3 to 5 minutes of easy cardio drills and/or dynamic stretching.

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Strength

Do:​ 5 sets of back squats. Rest 1 to 2 minutes in between sets — just enough recovery time for you to feel strong enough to tackle another set. Your rep scheme will look like this:

  • 15
  • 12
  • 12
  • 10
  • 10

Move 1: Back Squat

JW Player placeholder image
Type Strength
Activity Dumbbell Workout
Region Lower Body
  1. Set a pair of dumbbells on the floor and get into a deadlift position by hinging your hips back and packing your shoulders back and down. Grab the dumbbells with both hands by your sides.
  2. Stand up using the power of your legs, keeping the weight out of your back.
  3. Bend your knees slightly and pop up, hoisting the dumbbells one at a time to your shoulders. You can hold them with the bars resting on top of your shoulders or with the bells on your shoulders and the rest of the weight hanging down your back.
  4. Step your feet hip-width apart (or slightly wider). This is the starting position.
  5. Keeping your chin, sternum and pubic bone in one straight line, bend your knees and hinge your hips back and down into a squat. Don't arch your back or crane your neck to look up.
  6. Drive through the four corners of your feet to stand.

Tip

You can do this exercise with either a pair of dumbbells or a barbell. If you're new to the exercise, start lighter, but don't be afraid to challenge yourself as you get used to the move.

"You will earn the right to go heavier when you feel comfortable with the range of motion," Widerstrom says. If you can't lift heavier, slow down the movement to increase the challenge, she says.

Cardio and Core Conditioning

Do:​ 1 round of the following circuit, resting as needed.

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  • 60-second plank hold
  • 15 incline press to overhead sit-ups
  • 30 American kettlebell swings
  • 60-second side plank (right)
  • 50 jump ropes
  • 30 American kettlebell swings
  • 50 jump ropes
  • 60-second side plank (left)
  • 30 American kettlebell swings
  • 15 incline press to overhead sit-ups
  • 60-second plank hold

Move 2: Plank Hold

JW Player placeholder image
Time 1 Min
Type Strength
Activity Body-Weight Workout
Region Core
  1. Start on your hands and knees, rotating the eye of your elbow forward (elbows shouldn't be pointing out to the side) and spreading your fingers.
  2. Step your feet back one at a time so that you're in the top of a push-up position.
  3. Draw your bellybutton toward your spine, engage your glutes and lift your hips just slightly.
  4. Continue to breathe as you hold this position.

Tip

If you have wrist pain, drop to your forearms, Widerstrom says.

Move 3: Incline Press to Overhead Sit-Up

JW Player placeholder image
Reps 15
Type Strength
Activity Dumbbell Workout
Region [ "Upper Body", "Core" ]
  1. Sit on an incline bench or lean against a couch or chair with your shoulder blades resting on the edge and your back straight to your butt.
  2. Pick up a dumbbell in each hand and raise them to your chest, elbows bent and pointing down.
  3. Straighten your arms and press the weights directly overhead.
  4. From here, engage your abs to lift into a sit-up.
  5. Lower your back down to the bench, then bend your elbows to bring the weights back to your chest.

Tip

Set your feet several inches away from your butt so that you have a strong base of support, Widerstrom says.

Move 4: American Kettlebell Swing

JW Player placeholder image
Reps 30
Type Strength
Activity Kettlebell Workout
Region Full Body
  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart and place a kettlebell or dumbbell between your feet.
  2. Grab the weight with both hands, then hike it between your legs as your hips hinge back.
  3. Explode through your legs and hips to drive the weight forward and overhead, stopping when your arms are straight over your shoulders.
  4. Swing the weight back down and behind your legs and repeat.

Tip

As with back squats, if you're new to this move (even if you've done Russian kettlebell swings before), start out with a lighter weight. "You can always go up in weight, but you can't go back down after you've hurt yourself," Widerstrom says.

And don't control the weight with your arms, she says. Your body — quads, hips, glutes and hamstrings, in particular — should be doing most of the work.

Move 5: Side Plank (Right)

JW Player placeholder image
Time 1 Min
Type Strength
Activity Body-Weight Workout
Region Core
  1. Lie on your right side with your elbow directly under your armpit, forearm along the floor. Extend your legs out straight.
  2. Squeeze your butt and quads as you drive your hips up into a side plank.
  3. Continue to breathe as you hold.

Tip

To modify, drop your bottom knee to the floor, Widerstrom says. From here, you have the option to lift your top leg for an intermediate modification.

Move 6: Jump Rope

JW Player placeholder image
Reps 50
Type Cardio
Activity HIIT
Region Full Body
  1. Stand with feet slightly apart, hands out to the side holding each handle of the jump rope (use an invisible rope if needed) and elbows tucked in toward your body.
  2. Circle the rope around.
  3. As it comes toward your feet, quickly hop over it.
  4. Circle the rope under your feet, back behind you and overhead.
  5. Continue hopping over the rope each time it comes around.

Tip

Single jump ropes feeling too easy? Do double unders, where the rope passes under your feet twice per jump.

Move 7: American Kettlebell Swing

JW Player placeholder image
Reps 30
Type Strength
Activity Kettlebell Workout
Region Full Body
  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart and place a kettlebell or dumbbell between your feet.
  2. Grab the weight with both hands, then hike it between your legs as your hips hinge back.
  3. Explode through your legs and hips to drive the weight forward and overhead, stopping when your arms are straight over your shoulders.
  4. Swing the weight back down and behind your legs and repeat.

Move 8: Jump Rope

JW Player placeholder image
Reps 50
Type Cardio
Activity HIIT
Region Full Body
  1. Stand with feet slightly apart, hands out to the side holding each handle of the jump rope (use an invisible rope if needed) and elbows tucked in toward your body.
  2. Circle the rope around.
  3. As it comes toward your feet, quickly hop over it.
  4. Circle the rope under your feet, back behind you and overhead.
  5. Continue hopping over the rope each time it comes around.

Move 9: Side Plank (Left)

JW Player placeholder image
Time 1 Min
Type Strength
Activity Body-Weight Workout
Region Core
  1. Lie on your left side with your elbow directly under your armpit, forearm along the floor. Extend your legs out straight.
  2. Squeeze your butt and quads as you drive your hips up into a side plank.
  3. Continue to breathe as you hold.

Move 10: American Kettlebell Swing

JW Player placeholder image
Reps 30
Type Strength
Activity Kettlebell Workout
Region Full Body
  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart and place a kettlebell or dumbbell between your feet.
  2. Grab the weight with both hands, then hike it between your legs as your hips hinge back.
  3. Explode through your legs and hips to drive the weight forward and overhead, stopping when your arms are straight over your shoulders.
  4. Swing the weight back down and behind your legs and repeat.

Move 11: Incline Press to Overhead Sit-Up

JW Player placeholder image
Reps 15
Type Strength
Activity Dumbbell Workout
Region [ "Core", "Upper Body" ]
  1. Sit on an incline bench or lean against a couch or chair with your shoulder blades resting on the edge and your back straight to your butt.
  2. Pick up a dumbbell in each hand and raise them to your chest, elbows bent and pointing down.
  3. Straighten your arms and press the weights directly overhead.
  4. From here, engage your abs to lift into a sit-up.
  5. Lower your back down to the bench, then bend your elbows to bring the weights back to your chest.

Move 12: Plank Hold

JW Player placeholder image
Time 1 Min
Type Strength
Activity Body-Weight Workout
Region Core
  1. Start on your hands and knees, rotating the eye of your elbow forward (elbows shouldn't be pointing out to the side) and spreading your fingers.
  2. Step your feet back one at a time so that you're in the top of a push-up position.
  3. Draw your bellybutton toward your spine, engage your glutes and lift your hips just slightly.
  4. Continue to breathe as you hold this position.

Cooldown

Do:​ 3 to 5 minutes of static stretching to cool down.

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