Cardio Strength Training: The 5 Best Exercises to Lose Weight

Most of us work out cardio on machines. Of course, pedaling a stationary bike or running on a track in a cozy gym is a comfortable way to fight fat, but by no means the most effective. Running in the air is the calorie-burning leader of all types of cardio. Of course, many of you will cry, because, by and large, no one likes to run. But if you still have the strength to kick yourself out, at least several times a week, then you are ready for more than just running. We offer you five percussion cardio exercises, after which even a morning run in the rain will seem to you just a light warm-up in the fresh air.

What is Cardio Strength Training?

Everyone knows that cardio strengthens the cardiovascular system. But at the same time, many forget that this implies cardio with moderate intensity, comparable to jogging. As for cardio with high intensity, its benefits for the heart are almost minimal, moreover, such cardio can even be harmful if you have problems with the cardiovascular system.

On the other hand, it is no secret to anyone that the higher the intensity of cardio, the more calories are consumed and the more actively fat is burned. How to be? You will not find the answer to this question in our article! Moreover, we deliberately dedicated our article to only one task – how to squeeze the maximum calories and fat from the body during cardio. Therefore, if you have heart or back problems, just put aside our article and do not poison your soul. If improving the cardiovascular system is perhaps the last thing that can occur to you when it comes to cardio, and all your thoughts revolve around one thing – how to burn more calories, then this article is for you.

In 2005, scientists conducted an experiment. Overweight people were divided into two groups. For 14 weeks, both groups regularly performed 3 cardio sessions per week. The first group is of moderate intensity, the second is of high intensity. Even though the duration of the cardio session in the first group was 15 minutes longer, at the end of the experiment only the “high-intensity” group showed a significant decrease in such an indicator as the proportion of fat in total body weight (by 5%).

Another argument in favor of high-intensity cardio: a 20-minute moderate-paced run on the treadmill burns a whopping 220 calories (the same amount is found in a small bar of chocolate). It is clear that at such a rate you can fight with fat stores almost endlessly.

That is why, when developing our cardio workouts, we put the task first: how to maximize calorie expenditure per unit of time. One solution is to increase the number of actively working muscles. Since in traditional cardio, almost all the work is done by the muscles of the lower body (legs), let’s additionally load the back, abs, arms, shoulder and chest – we get strength cardio exercises.

A word of warning: strength cardio is a major challenge to your muscles and cardiovascular system. Therefore, thoroughly strengthen all your core muscles before incorporating it into your training program. Comprehensive or, as they say, circular workouts are best suited for this purpose. Choose 8-10 basic, multi-joint exercises (preferably with a barbell and dumbbells) so that after working them all, one after another, in a continuous series, you walk through all the muscles of the body. Do several of these series-cycles in one workout.

We recommend for beginners to work on a complex training scheme for several months and only then proceed to split and learning strength cardio.

If you are in great physical shape, do not try to do our exercises at once at full strength. Risk of injury. You will need at least a week of gentle introductory strength cardio – light weight and moderate pace. Only then can you increase the pace and load.

And finally: for everyone who has even the slightest problems with the back or heart, power cardio is contraindicated.


Before switching completely from traditional to strength cardio, do some intense cardio workouts on a treadmill. They will allow you to come close to the border of your physical potential and clearly determine the readiness of the body for strength cardio. As you might have guessed, interval cardio is a pretty tough workout, so do this workout only once a week, no more.

In the beginning – 5 minutes of jogging to warm up the muscles and accelerate the heart rate. Then intervals: 90 seconds of high-speed split “downhill” (the track is slightly raised) plus 90 seconds of jogging on the horizontal track. Plan – 4 intervals. In the first interval, raise the track bed by 3 degrees, in each subsequent interval – another half degree higher. End the session with a 3-minute cool-down run at a moderate pace. Increase the number of intervals and incline of the treadmill belt with each new workout (but do not raise it above 6 degrees).

cardio strength training exercises

The 5 Best Cardio Strength Exercises

1. Running Downhill

Running downhill will force you to put in extra effort to overcome gravity, which means your leg muscles will work much harder than traditional running. This exercise has always been and remains one of the most popular types of cardio among professional athletes, which sometimes complicate it by running not downhill, but up the steps between the stands of the stadium. This exercise is great for developing endurance and leg strength.

Preparation: Practice the exercise on a slope with a relatively gentle incline, no more than 5% (for 100 m of straight road, the ascent is 5 m). The downhill phase should take no more than 30 seconds. After gaining experience, try to run up the steps between the stands of the stadium, but be extremely careful – if you run too fast, it is easy to stumble and get injured. If finding a slide or steps is problematic, replace this exercise with an interval sprint in a straight line, alternating between acceleration and light jogging.

Technique: Watch your posture. When starting on an uphill, try to quickly pick up the maximum speed and not reduce it until the very end of the distance. After completing the run up the hill, do not stop, but immediately turn back and go downstairs with a light jog (or brisk step).

Workout: At first, jog for 6-10 minutes. Then 4-6 cycles: downhill run at maximum speed plus a minute descent as an active rest (jogging or brisk stride). Gradually increase the number of cycles to 12-20 (net sprint time will be about 8-10 minutes).

Calorie consumption: 150-400 kcal.

running downhill

2. Dumbbell Clean and Press

This is a modification of a popular exercise from the weightlifting arsenal. The difference from the traditional snatch of the barbell to the chest is as follows: instead of the barbell – light dumbbells, a large number of repetitions in the set and a fairly fast pace of movement. Despite the fact that you will not have to run here, it is still advisable to do the exercise in the fresh air – believe me, the “breathing apparatus” will work one hundred percent, as during a shock sprint.

Preparation: The weight of the dumbbells should not interfere with correct technique, but at the same time, it should thoroughly exhaust the muscles by the 15th repetition, provided that you work out the set at a fast pace. The criterion for choosing the optimal dumbbell weight: when performing a snatch at a moderate pace (as in strength training), you should weaken somewhere between 30 and 40 repetitions.

Technique: Take dumbbells with a neutral grip and place them on the sides of your thighs. Bend your knees slightly and, keeping a slight bend in the lower back, tilt your torso forward so that the dumbbells are below knee level (on the sides of your shins). The arms are fully extended. Take a deep breath and, holding your breath, push your heels off the floor with an elastic movement (rising on your toes or even jumping a little). Then at the same time straighten your legs, lift your torso out of the tilt and, bending your arms, pull the dumbbells towards your shoulders. When the dumbbells are as close to your shoulders as possible, sit down slightly. Then straighten your legs and swing the dumbbells forward, squeeze them up. Pay special attention: the snatch + bench press is performed in one continuous movement, without pauses or stops. Repeating the movement in reverse order, smoothly return to the starting position.

Workout: After a light warm-up, do 5 sets of 15 reps, rest between sets for 30 seconds. Gradually bring the number of sets to 10.

Calorie consumption: 150-300 kcal (5-10 sets).

3. Fireman’s Carry

This is the funniest yet most challenging strength cardio exercise. Imagine that you are a firefighter and your task, having shouldered the girl on your shoulder, is to take her out of the burning house as quickly as possible. As you can see, only the most risky guys can do this. The exercise actively loads all the muscles of the trunk and legs, develops their power, strength and coordination.

Of course, it is more convenient and more pleasant to carry a gullible girl on your shoulder, but if there is none, then you can use a bag of sand or potatoes as ballast.

Technique: The slope on which you are going to run up must be gentle and even, without potholes and potholes, otherwise you will “wrap up”, and even with the girl. Sit down. Place the girl with her belly on your right shoulder and ask her to firmly grasp your left shoulder with one hand. First, learn the exercise well, practicing it at a brisk pace. You can switch to running only after a few trial sessions. Accelerate from a place smoothly and do not run “leaps and bounds”.

Workout: First – 5 minutes, light, warm-up walk. Then put the girl on your shoulder and run 25 meters up the slope with her, then lower her to the ground and rest for 30 seconds, returning with an easy step to the start. This is one “fireman”. Start with 10 firefighters and gradually work your way up to 30.

Calorie consumption: 75-250 kcal.

fireman’s carry

4. Running with Backpack

Comparing jogging to this exercise is as ridiculous as a light paprika seasoning. The essence of the exercise is extremely simple: fill your backpack with sand, throw it over your shoulders and run forward. The advantage of a backpack over any other ballast is that, thanks to the straps and sand, it seems to stick to the back and does not dangle while running. In addition, backpacking is perhaps the most effective exercise for building correct posture and strengthening the flexor muscles of the spine.

Preparation: To avoid getting your backpack dirty, take a strong 10 kg plastic bag, fill it with sand and tie it. Place the sandbag in your backpack. As you get stronger, increase the weight of the backpack.

Technique: Adjust the straps of the backpack so that it does not fidget on your back while you run, and be sure to fasten any cross straps, if any, on your backpack. Don’t slouch. While running, do not relax the abs and lower back for a second, firmly holding the V-shaped bend of the spine (shoulders and chest are straightened, the back is slightly bent at the lower back, the gaze is directed straight forward). Run with a wide stride and help yourself with the swings of your arms in time with the movement of your legs.

Workout: Put on your backpack and stretch for 5 minutes – brisk walking, gradually turning into jogging. This is followed by alternating intervals of 30 seconds sprint and 30 seconds jogging as rest. Alternate intervals for 12 minutes, then end the cardio session with a 3-minute brisk “cool down” walk.

Calorie consumption: 250-350 kcal.

running with backpack

5. Farmer’s Walk

One of the obligatory numbers of the program of almost all shows of strongmen and heroic amusements. True, there athletes pull loads weighing a hundredweight, and even for a while. “Farmer’s Walk” incredibly develops the endurance and strength of the trapezium, plus, moreover, accelerates all the processes of burning fat literally to the cosmic speed.

Preparation: It is very convenient to do the exercise on the football field, but if you want to load up your muscles like a man and deliver a crushing blow to fat, take a walk uphill. Keep in mind: the forearms are much weaker than the traps, so it makes sense to use the wrist straps with hooks to support the dumbbells. If dumbbells are not on hand, use 20-liter cans or buckets of water as a weight.

Technique: Take a pair of 15 to 20 kg dumbbells and hold them at the sides of your thighs. Tighten your abs, lower back and fully straighten your torso: the body is upright, the back is slightly bent at the lower back. The main thing: do not take your shoulders back, they should always be exactly in the plane of the body.

Do not relax your abs and lower back while walking and always keep your torso upright! Warning: If you have a weak lower back or back problems, this exercise is best avoided.

Workout: Initially, to warm up, 5 minutes of brisk walking without dumbbells. Then – from 1 to 3 minutes “walk” with dumbbells and 90 seconds of rest. Start with 5 of these sets and gradually work your way up to 10.

Calorie consumption: 100-300 kcal.

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