3 Full-Body Exercises That Combine Strength and Cardio

Get the best of both worlds with these 3 easy-to-incorporate full body movements. 

Staff Writer
Staff Writer
 min read
December 6, 2023

Achieving a well-rounded fitness routine often involves a combination of strength training and cardiovascular exercises. While these two types of workouts are typically seen as separate entities, there are effective ways to merge them for a comprehensive full-body workout. In this article, we'll explore three full-body exercises that seamlessly blend strength and cardio, helping you maximize your time at the gym and achieve optimal fitness results.

1. Kettlebell Swings

Kettlebell swings are a dynamic and powerful full-body exercise that not only targets multiple muscle groups but also elevates your heart rate, making it an excellent cardiovascular workout. 

To perform kettlebell swings:

  • Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding the kettlebell with both hands in front of you.
  • Bend your knees and hinge at your hips, keeping your back straight and chest up.
  • Swing the kettlebell back between your legs and then explosively drive your hips forward, bringing the kettlebell up to shoulder height.
  • Allow the kettlebell to swing back down between your legs and repeat the motion.

The explosive nature of kettlebell swings engages your legs, core, and shoulders, while the continuous movement provides an effective cardiovascular challenge.

2. Burpees:

Yeah, yeah, we know everyone hates burpees, but they’re a killer exercise for a reason. Burpees combine strength, agility, and cardiovascular conditioning to create a high-intensity exercise targeting multiple muscle groups and elevating your heart rate. 

To perform burpees:

  • Start in a standing position and then squat down, placing your hands on the floor.
  • Jump your feet back into a plank position, perform a push-up, and then jump your feet back toward your hands.
  • Explosively jump up, reaching your arms overhead.
  • Land softly and immediately go into the next repetition.

Burpees engage your chest, arms, legs, and core, making them an efficient exercise for both strength and cardio. They can be modified based on fitness levels, making them suitable for beginners and advanced individuals alike.

3. Rowing:

Rowing is a low-impact, full-body exercise that combines strength and cardiovascular benefits. Using a rowing machine engages your legs, back, arms, and core, providing a comprehensive workout.

To get the most out of rowing:

  • Sit on the rowing machine with your feet secured in the foot straps.
  • Grab the handle with an overhand grip, keeping your back straight and shoulders relaxed.
  • Push through your legs, lean back slightly, and pull the handle towards your chest.
  • Return to the starting position by straightening your arms, bending your knees, and leaning forward.

Rowing not only builds muscular strength but also offers a cardiovascular challenge, especially when performed at higher intensities. It's a versatile exercise suitable for individuals of all fitness levels, and can also be done out of the gym via activities such as kayaking, paddleboarding, and cross-country skiing, if you want to take your gym day outdoors. 

Incorporating full-body exercises that blend strength and cardio into your fitness routine can yield remarkable benefits. The three exercises mentioned—kettlebell swings, burpees, and rowing—not only provide a time-efficient way to work multiple muscle groups but also elevate your heart rate, promoting cardiovascular health. 

Remember to tailor these exercises to your fitness level and consult with a fitness professional if you have any concerns or pre-existing conditions. By combining strength and cardio, you can enhance your overall fitness, boost metabolism, and achieve a well-balanced and effective workout routine.

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