Did you know that doing the right cardio exercises can help to build muscle? While cardio is usually aimed at improving your circulation and heart health, you’ll find that there are a few exercises that combine resistance and endurance training. Here are a few of the best cardio exercises for bigger muscles:
There is a reason every hates burpees: they’re exhausting! Not only do they work your cardio (the up, down, jump, push-up movement really gets your heart pumping), but they’re great for building muscle as well. You hit your chest, shoulders, and triceps with every push-up, and your core gets a workout every time you jump your feet forward or backward. Plus, you’re doing a squat with every movement, so your hamstrings, glutes, and quads get a good workout. By the end of a single set of Burpees, you’ll be gasping for breath and your muscles will feel the burn!
This is another great exercise that combines cardio and resistance training. Mountain Climbers involve bringing your knees to your chest while in the plank position. Your chest, shoulders, and triceps have to engage to keep your upper body immobile while your legs move. You give your hamstrings a good workout every time they pull your legs to your chest. Your core is engaged as you hold your body stable and try to move only your legs. It’s a great workout that will get your heart pumping and your body working.
Medicine Ball Squat Throw
This exercise combines a squat with explosive upper body movements. The combination of these two will push your heart and lungs, giving you one heck of a great cardiovascular workout. When you squat, your glutes and quads engaged to push you back up. Hurling the ball into the air gives your triceps, shoulders, and chest a great workout. The result is a full body “push” movement that will work your cardio and muscles.
Adding the jump at the end of the squat doubles down on the effectiveness of the movement. You get that explosive “push off” that can yield serious strength increases, but which also gets your heart pumping. A great cardio/resistance combo!
This movement is used in CrossFit thanks to the fact that it helps to develop explosive strength. It’s as simple as it sounds: you try to jump up onto a box. Your legs and core get an excellent workout as you leap upward and steady yourself, and the jump itself sets your heart pounding at full clip. It’s an easy movement, but one guaranteed to work both cardio and muscles.
This is more of a resistance training workout, but it’s also great for cardio. Work with a lighter weight, but do more reps to kick your heart into high gear. You perform a squat with every rep, meaning your legs get a great workout. The swing part works your shoulders, core, chest, and arms, and the constant up-down motion will help to get your blood pumping.
This classic football training exercise is AMAZING for your pushing muscles, but it’s also excellent high intensity cardio. You’re essentially using every ounce of strength to push a sled across the floor, and your body has to work hard to keep up with the high intensity movement. It’s definitely one of the best cardio/resistance combo movements, and it will help you to develop strong back, leg, and calf muscles. Plus, it sets your heart beating at a terrific rate, leading to improvements in your cardio conditioning.