Cardio and weight training both offer significant benefits, so combining the two is the best path to achieving a body that’s lean and toned.

While the one-two punch of aerobic activity and strength training makes for killer fitness, many people are unsure how to find the perfect blend of these two forms of exercise. Here are 6 of the best ways to combine weight training and cardio.

Dispel The Myths About Mixing Weight Training and Cardio

Many people think of cardio and strength training as an either/or proposition, so combining the two starts with dispelling a couple of prevailing myths. Some people that are looking to lose weight fear strength training will render them too bulky. Others aiming to build muscle worry that if they engage in cardio workouts, their body will “cannibalize” their muscles for fuel.

In fact, strength training can contribute to weight loss by speeding up your metabolism, as lean muscles burn fat even while you’re at rest. Furthermore, strength training helps with the beyond-the-scale goal of cultivating greater muscle tone. And so long as you don’t perform cardio on an empty stomach, your body will have no need to burn muscle tissue as fuel. For those looking to buff up, introducing some cardio can keep your body fat in check, helping you attaining muscle definition.

Mix Weight Training And Cardio With Interval Training

Interval training involves engaging in cardio exercise and strength training on alternating days. Finding the ideal ratio of cardio to strength training depends on factors like your body type and your fitness goals.

Put simply, if you are aiming to lose weight, you should put a larger focus on cardio. If you are aiming to gain muscle, you should engage in more strength-training exercise. If your goal is less focused, like just maintaining or improving your overall fitness level, you can alternate cardio and strength training however you want.

My ratio of cardio to strength training varies according to my current fitness goals. When I’m in a training cycle preparing for a marathon, I run 5-6 days a week and engage in strength training on my recovery days. When I’m in the off-season, I typically run 3 or 4 days a week and dedicate two days to strength training.

Combine Weight Training And Cardio In The Same Workout

Another option is to blend strength training and cardio in the same workout. You might, for instance, undertake 40 minutes of lifting followed by 20 minutes of cardio. Or you might substitute 5 to 10 minutes of cardio for your usual warm-up before starting your strength training.

Many people ask, which should I do first, aerobic exercise or weight training?

If you plan to engage in an intense cardio workout, it’s best to start with weight training. This is because there’s more risk of being injured during strength training, so you don’t want to be tired out by cardio when you start lifting.

Further, studies have shown people who engage in vigorous aerobic work out before strength training tend to perform fewer weightlifting reps than those who start their strength training fresh. One reason for the diminished performance is that cardio drives blood flow to the lower body, making you less able to engage in upper-body lifting.

Blend Weight Training And Cardio In A Strength-Based Class

If you’re a fitness-class junkie, you might enjoy the blend of strength training and cardio offered by exercise classes like:

Consider Pushing Your Boundaries With Barre

You may be asking yourself, “What is barre?” because it’s the newest of these class offerings.

A barre workout consists of small, controlled movements that tone your muscles in an extremely targeted way. In order to work your thighs, for instance, the choreography might include three different moves aimed at strengthening your inner and outer thighs as well as the front of your thighs.

Like ballet, barre may at first blush seem to be a graceful and, with apologies to Mikhail Baryshnikov, a feminine form of exercise. Actually, barre is so effective at working your muscles—including underused muscles—that it’s not uncommon for students to be literally quivering by the end of class. Meanwhile, the fast pace and varied choreography of barre classes keep your heart rate up, making it a great cardio workout.

Mix Weight Training And Cardio With A HIIT Workout

HIIT combines high-intensity cardio and recovery intervals at a 1:4 ratio, but people using this dynamic workout don’t just stand around during their recovery period. One minute of intense cardio, such as sprinting on a treadmill with the incline raised for high impact, might be followed by four minutes of strength training exercises such as:

  • Kettlebell Swings
  • Planks
  • Pull-ups
  • Pushups

One of the best things about HIIT is that the intensity revs up your metabolism, triggering calorie burn that continues long after your workout is over.

Fuel Up Before Mixing Weight Training And Cardio

Having an active lifestyle that incorporates strength training and cardio requires that you take care of your body. It’s crucial that you follow basic health practices like eating right, sleeping enough and drinking plenty of water. You may also need to occasionally fuel up your motivation as well as your body. Even though fitness is one of my greatest passions, I still sometimes need help with motivation.

I recently came across a great idea called the 5-minute rule. If you plan on working out a certain day only to see your motivation fizzle, embark on your workout anyway, making yourself a reasonable promise. If you still don’t want to exercise after 5 minutes, you have permission to take off your running shoes and head for the couch. I’ve tried this several times and it’s gotten me going. In fact, I’ve yet to decide that I want to stop my work out once I start moving.

With your body and mind properly fueled, you’ll be ready to combining weight training and cardio for maximum fitness!

Author's Bio: 

Kevin Jones has mastered a busy lifestyle with work and fitness combined with family life. He writes offering solutions for personal fitness and time management as well as keeping families fit together by utilizing activities and diet.