6 Bodyweight Exercises That Combine Cardio And Strength Training

What happens when you swap your cardio workouts for functional strength training with full-body movements? You’ll actually boost your cardio fitness and strength all at once, according a study from the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research.

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The researchers had women who typically only performed cardio exercises to switch to a circuit bodyweight workout three days a week for five weeks. Not only were they stronger by the end, they also improved their one-rep max, and their cardio endurance as well.

You could mix your cardio between sets of weight training, but you could be more efficient by executing these cardio-and-strength training moves that get all your major muscles working, while also breaking a sweat.

Here are 6 moves that not only get your heart rate up, but also tone and strengthen.

1. Push-Up Burpees

The dreaded burpee is one of those perfect exercises, combining cardio and strength training while targeting almost every major muscle group.

  1. Start like you would with a regular burpee by getting into a straight-arm plank position (on your hands and toes, with a straight line from your head to heels).
  2. Now do a military-style pushup, still keeping that straight posture.
  3. Jump your feet to your hands, do a high-knee jump, landing with your hands on the floor.
  4. Hop your feet back into a plank and repeat the sequence again.
  5. The push-up works the chest, arms and core, if you stick with proper form.

2. Squat Jumps

Squat jumps are similar to burpees, but you’re really going to feel the burn in your thighs and glutes. You know the rules with a standard squat:

  1. Keep your weight on your heels, hinge at the hips as if you’re sitting into a chair, your spine should be neutral, and you’re deep enough when your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  2. But instead of simply standing up, jump.
  3. Put some gusto into it. Raise your arms up for momentum.
  4. You’ll feel it in your calves, glutes and hamstrings.

3. Plank Jacks

Don’t worry, this isn’t another burpee variation, but you’ll still feel it. Trust us.

  1. Get into a push-up position by going onto your hands and toes, with your body forming a straight line (just like we explained in number 1.).
  2. And like a normal plank, you’ll want to engage your core muscles tight.
  3. You’ll need to do this to keep your balance as you jump your feet out to the sides and back center repeatedly.
  4. Don’t move your hands and keep your bum down.
  5. This will target your core and glutes.

4. Plank Up-Downs

Since we got your feet moving with planks, there’s no reason you can’t move your arms. You know the straight-arm plank (a.k.a., a push-up position, where your hands are on the floor), and you likely know the elbow plank, where you rest on your forearms on the floor.

  1. For this move you combine the two types of planks, by moving one arm at a time, from your hand resting on the floor to your triceps.
  2. Do this one arm at a time, from plank position to push-up position.
  3. Keep your core engaged to prevent swinging your hips or your body.

5. Standing Crunches

Crunches on the floor can be hard on the lower back, and it’s not exactly a cardio move. Instead do them standing, which means you can do them faster and get your heart involved.

  1. Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, point your toes outward.
  2. Hold your hands behind your head, just like you would with a crunch on the floor.
  3. Now, lift one knee out to the side and as high as you can, and bring your elbow (same side) down to touch your knee.
  4. Then alternate sides.

6. Incorporate Tabatas

Make any strength-training move into cardio with this timing strategy. Tabatas are pretty much suicide drills. Whether you’re doing push-ups, jumping lunges, ball-slams, they all fit with Tabata. The good news: you only have to workout for four minutes, 20 seconds at a time. But you have to work hard – so hard, that it’s the highest intensity you can handle. Pick the move you want to do. Work hard for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, and do this repeatedly for four minutes. It’s tough. Trust us.