Strength Training for the Cardio Lover
By Kimberly Fleming
Exercise doesn't have to be fast, intense movement that makes you sweat profusely. The longer and faster you exercise doesn't always mean better results. While it is true that cardio-respiratory fitness (exercises like walking, running, or cycling) is essential in improving the health of your heart, lungs, and circulatory system; you must not forget the importance of muscular strength and its ability to maximize your workout to make you look and feel better. Working with resistance speeds up your metabolism which helps your body keep working when you are at rest. It also increases your bone strength, reduces injury risk, and improves your physical appearance. Cardio exercises are an excellent way to burn fat, but put your running shoes aside a few days out of the week and focus on strengthening your muscular system.
It is best to split up your strength training workouts to isolate your upper body and lower body on different days. You can even work your abs and core another day if you find time. Follow the fitness plan below to help you incorporate strength training into your weekly exercise regimen.
DAY 1: Upper Body
- Push Up with Knees Bent: While on your hands and knees with your arms slightly further than shoulder width apart, bends your elbows bringing your chest to the ground. Return to start and repeat.
- Tricep Extensions: Grab one dumbbell; raise your arms overhead bending your elbows near your ears. Slowly straighten your elbows until your arms are vertical to the floor.
- Dumbbell Hammer Curls: Standing with feet shoulder width apart, place dumbbells in your hand and at your side. Slowly bend your elbows so that your arms and the dumbbell come up to your waist. Repeat.
- Single Arm Bicep Curls: Extend one arm straight out with a very light weight in hand. Pick a slightly heavier weight and perform slow bicep curls on this arm. (Switch arms make sure the lighter weight is in the hand of the extended arm)
- Front Raises: Standing with feet shoulder width apart, place dumbbells in your hand and palms facing your thighs. Slowly lift your arms up to your chest, keeping them fully extended. Return to start and repeat.
DAY 2: Lower Body
- Lunges: Standing upright, bring one leg in front of you while bending your back leg: Make sure the thigh of your front leg is parallel to the ground with a 90 degree angle at your knee. Return to start and repeat by bringing the other leg forward.
- Squats and Squat Pulses: With your feet wide and back straight, bend your knees slowly as if you were preparing to take a seat. Pause when your thighs are parallel to the ground and return to start. Speed up for pulse-like movements.
- Step Ups: Find a stable bench or chair and step up one leg at a time. Jump up for more intensity.
- Leg Lifts: On your hands and knees, slowly lift one leg. Attempt to bring your heel to the ceiling. Return to start and repeat on the opposite leg.
DAY 3: Add Abs
Today combine the exercises that you did on day 1 and day 2 but also pick four or five of your favorite Ab workouts and complete them with the same amount of sets and repetitions that you did on day 1 and 2.
Recommendations: Complete 3 sets of each exercise on each day. One set means that you repeat each exercise between 8-10 times. For more intensity, add a dumbbell or increase the weight of your dumbbell. Your can also increase the number of sets you do for more intensity.
Kimberly Fleming is passionate for all things health & fitness. She is an ACE certified personal trainer, freelance writer, health foodie, blogger, group fitness instructor and motivational speaker. She teaches in the Metro Atlanta Area and has hundreds of clients via Internet. With years of experience in the fitness industry, her main goal is to find ways to reduce the burden of exercise by making it more fun, convenient and suitable for everyone. Follow Kim on twitter @kim_fitness.