Workout #9- Combining Cardio and Strength Training

Circuit #1: 2 sets
Push-ups x max
Reverse Lunges x 25 each side
Cardio 5 min RPE 6-7

Rest 3 minutes

Circuit #2: 2 sets
Modified Pull-ups x max
Squats x 30
Cardio 5 min RPE 6-7

This excellent workout combines both aerobic endurance and anaerobic strength work, exercising muscles of the entire body in a challenging circuit style.  Pick the cardio activity you prefer (running, biking, elliptical, walking).  Click on the RPE link for an explanation of intensity.  Click on the individual exercises to see tutorials on each.

This leads me to a question I am often asked.  Should I combine cardio and strength work into one workout, and if so, why?  The easy answer would be “yes”, for 2 reasons.  One, I am a firm believer in functional fitness.  That means that I want your exercises to make you better at carrying on the tasks of your everyday life.  I want you to challenge your body in your workouts in the same fashion that you challenge your body in your regular activities.  Most physically demanding tasks we perform require some combination of cardiovascular endurance and muscle strength, so combining the two into one workout will only enhance those abilities.  Plus, since you need both kinds of exercise anyway, why not do them together and maximize time?  Two, it is a great way to boost calorie expenditure.  Keeping the heart rate elevated throughout the workout keeps the engine running and burning fuel.  Strength work interspersed with your cardio takes the challenge up a notch, and provides an anabolic (building) stimulus that counteracts the catabolic (breaking down) stimulus that cardio alone provides.  This will keep your metabolism up and muscle mass intact while dropping body fat, and keep you from plateauing in your goals.  This doesn’t mean that every workout has to be structured this way.  There are benefits to doing the strength work and cardio separately, but it is an effective tool for many seeking to increase the challenge and functionality of their workout routine and break through some plateaus.  Enjoy!


Workout #5: CrossConditioning

Squat + Row (Cable or Tube) x 25 reps
Run ½ mile (or walk ¼ mile fast, bike 1 mile, or elliptical ½ mile)
(Perform each exercise back to back, then repeat 3 times for 4 sets total)

Perform 25 reps of the Squat + Row exercise, then run for 1/2 mile.  If you can’t do the run, then walk for 1/4 mile, bike for 1 mile (outside or exercise bike), or use the elliptical trainer for 1/2 mile).  Intensity should be moderate.  Repeat this circuit of 2 exercises back to back 3 more times for a total of 4 rounds.  By the end you will have performed 100 Squat + Row and run 2 miles (or walked 1 mile, biked 4 miles, or done the elliptical for 2 miles).

This is a great workout combining muscle strength and endurance work with cardiovascular conditioning.  Do the workout with limited rest, work hard, and have fun!


Workout #3

Pull-ups x max reps
Chair Squats x 25 with 25 sec hold on last rep
Hill run x 1-2 min

(Perform each exercise back to back, then repeat twice for 3 sets total)

This is an exercise circuit combining upper back strength, lower body strength, and cardiovascular conditioning.  It should take you no more than about 15 minutes to perform, but it represents a great total body workout.  Substitute another upper back exercise like a dumbbell row, assisted pull-up, cable or tube row, or lat pulldown if you can’t do a pull-up.  The 25-second hold comes on the last rep of the chair squats, where you hover just above the chair holding a squat in the air for as long as you can up to 25 seconds.  (You can find instructions for the chair squat exercise in the “Exercises” blog file). Substitute stairs, alternating step-ups, or another form of cardiovascular exercise for a quick 1-2 minutes if you are not near a hill.

Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself a little, but always pay attention to your body and don’t exercise beyond your current level of fitness.  Enjoy!


Start with the Heart? / Chair Squats

Question of the Week #2:  Does optimal physical health start with the heart?

Exercise of the Week #2:  Chair Squats

Primary Muscles: Quadriceps
Secondary Muscles:  Hamstrings, Glutes

The squat is the crux of every lower-body exercise routine.  Next to the deadlift, the squat is the most functional exercise to mimic the way that we use the lower body in daily life.  It is also one of the most noticeable areas of weakness in the aging population.  Working all the major lower leg muscles, increasing bone density, and elevating metabolism are all positive effects of this essential exercise.  Start with the chair squats because it is the easiest to master and the most effective way to do it with proper form by yourself.  Here’s how it goes:

All you need is a chair and a little space.  Choose a chair that is the right height for you to effectively perform the exercise without discomfort.  Add a pillow to a normal dining room chair if you need a little extra height.  Sit on the front half of the chair, with your feet slightly wider than hip width apart and about six inches in front of the chair.  With hands on hips or hands behind your head, stand up until your knees are fully extended.  Then return to the seated position.  Keep your feet flat on the floor through the whole exercise with your weight on your midfoot to heel.  Maintain a neutral position with your back, hinging forward slightly at your hips as you come down.  Don’t forget to hold in those abs!  For those just starting out, come to a fully seated position before standing.  For those with a little more experience, come down until your glutes just touch the chair, without placing your full weight upon the chair.  You shouldn’t feel any pain in your knees.  Just a nice burn in the quads!

Try it three different times this week.  2 sets of 15-20 reps with a 90 second rest in between sets.  Hold some weight at your sides or in front of your chest if you need an extra challenge.  Let me know how it goes or if you need any extra assistance.  Have fun!


Workout #2

Workout #2  

Push-ups x max reps
Plank x max time
Cardio x 3 minutes high intensity (ex. jump rope, jumping jacks, fast run)
(Do each exercise back to back with no rest in between, and repeat for 4 sets total)

Track total push-up reps and total plank time.

Try out this workout sometime this weekend and tell me how it goes.  Have fun!