Benefits of Combining Strength and Cardio

The health benefits associated with performing strength training on a regular basis, especially as one ages, are many. Cardiovascular exercise, from walking to running, is also key, especially when used as a “COVID-19 mood booster” or stress reliever. There is a great quote from an old Greek philosopher named Diogenes that says: “it is solved by walking,” from the Latin word, Solviture Ambulando.

What are the benefits of combining strength and cardio in your workout? Should we be doing both? Simply adding in short bouts of cardio (like jumping rope), with your weight training, can take a workout to the next level. It ends up challenging both your muscular and cardiovascular systems in one efficient workout. 

The Benefits of Combining Strength and Cardio Are Many

The goal of circuit weight training (CWT) is to move quickly from one exercise to the next with minimal rest. The design of a circuit can be as simple as performing an upper body, lower body and core exercise followed by a brief bout of cardio. The cardio could be jumping rope, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, basically anything that elevates heart rate. A 2013 study published in American Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation, reported jumping rope can be one of the most effective cardio exercises. We’re talking better than running, swimming or rowing. Following six-weeks of jumping rope exercises (for 10-minutes/day), subjects displayed the same levels of cardiovascular efficiency as those who did 30 minutes of jogging.

There is also a hidden bonus with circuit-training, an “additional” calorie-burning benefit post-workout. The term associated with this is excess-post oxygen consumption (EPOC). This has the potential to occur when doing challenging circuit weight training programs. The body continues to expend additional calories for hours after the workout has been completed. The routine needs to be challenging though which this type of workout can definitely be.

Additional Research Backs Up the Benefits

According to a 2019 study published in the journal Obesity, those who combined strength training with cardio were less likely to become obese. A classic review study by Gettman and Pollock (1981) showed the average aerobic capacity increased by 5% while strength improved 7-32%. The good news with all the studies reviewed showed a 2-6 pound increase in muscle mass. The average length of the workouts reviewed was only 25-30 minutes. A second study by Wilmore and colleagues determined energy expenditure was 9 calories/minute for men and 6 calories/minute for women who performed circuit weight training programs. Finally, a 10-week study compared CWT to biking showing favorable results in multiple areas for CWT. This type of training was shown to  “lead to mild to moderate increases in aerobic capacity” and “muscle mass.”

Jefit Home Exercise Programs: 5 Circuit-Based Routines

Strength & Cardio Circuit. This is a 1-day routine that incorporates exercise and bouts of cardio. The only piece of cardio equipment needed, however, is a jump rope.

Home Circuit (30-minutes). This is a two-day program you can do that is a circuit using exercises only, no cardio. You move quickly from one exercise to the next with minimal rest between sets.

Home Bodyweight Circuit (Level 1). This program has only two circuits or rounds – compared to three – found in Level 2 and 3 of this program. When this routine becomes less challenging for you – progress to Level 2.

Home Bodyweight Circuit (Level 2). The design of these workout sessions consist of 5 body weight exercises that are repeated for 3 circuits or rounds. The session starts off with core work.

Home Bodyweight Circuit (Level 3). This program is designed as a circuit where you complete one round of 10 different exercises with minimal or no rest. Once completed, you return to the first exercise and move through another round of the circuit, until 3 rounds are completed.

This information presented hopefully offers additional insight into the value of performing circuit weight training more often. Continue to work hard and stay strong while using Jefit circuit-based workouts at home.

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