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These Abs Exercises Double As Cardio for a Double-Duty Workout

When you think cardio, you might think running outside, hopping on a spin bike, or taking a HIIT class—anything that gets you sweaty and elevates your heart rate, right? In fact, you're probably hopping right off that StairMaster and heading straight to the mat for some crunches or planks to get in your "full-body workout." (Stop wasting your time with inefficient workouts—boost your cardiovascular fitness and burn fat at the same time with this 30-Day Cardio HIIT Challenge.)

Stop right there because you could be doing moves that work double-duty instead, saving you time in the gym and getting you to the results you're looking for faster. Dara Theodore, instructor at The Fhitting Room in New York City, created this circuit-based workout to make your routine more efficient. Here, you'll find core exercises that will build strength in your middle while also boosting your heart rate for a cardio push—all in one seamless, easy-to-follow workout. (Discover more core moves like these abs exercises that will help you crush your next spin class.)

How it works: Perform each move in each the circuit for 45 seconds followed by 15 seconds of rest before repeating the circuit once more. Move on to the following circuit and perform each move in the circuit for 45 seconds followed by 15 seconds of rest; repeat, and so on. Once you've completed the last round of the second exercise in the final circuit (circuit 4), you'll complete 1 minute of burpees for a final burst of work.

What you'll need: Set of 5- to 8-pound dumbbells

Circuit 1

Squat to Alternating Knee Drive
A. Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Sit back into heels to perform a squat, keeping hands up by your face.
B. Push through heels and come to standing, bringing right knee up to chest and tapping palms on knee. Bring foot back to floor and repeat squat with knee drive on left side. Continue movement pattern, alternating knees each rep.
Perform exercise for 45 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of rest.

Alternating Dumbbell Row to T-Plank
A. Begin in plank position, grasping 5- to 8-pound dumbbells (one in each hand), feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.
B. Lift right hand, extending bent elbow directly behind you, making sure to keep arm snug to torso.
C. Twist open to the right, allowing feet to twist along with you, bringing right arm straight and directly up.
D. Reverse the movement, returning right dumbbell to floor before repeating row and side T-plank on left side.
Perform exercise for 45 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of rest.

REPEAT CIRCUIT 1

Circuit 2

Alternating Lunge With Dumbbell Wood Chop
A. Stand holding the ends of one 5- to 8-pound dumbbell in both hands near chest.
B. Perform a reverse lunge on the right side, bringing right leg behind you, bending both legs at a 90-degree angle.
C. At the same time, twist to the left, bringing dumbbell to left side, hovering near floor. Push through left heel to return to standing. Repeat movement, lunging with the left foot and twisting to the right. Continue movement pattern, alternating legs each rep.
Perform exercise for 45 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of rest.

Squat Thrust to Arm Raise
A. From standing, quickly bend at the waist to place both hands on the floor in front of you and jump both feet directly back, coming into plank position. Quickly hop legs back toward outside of hands.
B. Immediately release hands from floor, bringing straight arms up directly next to ears. Repeat.
Perform exercise for 45 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of rest.

REPEAT CIRCUIT 2

Circuit 3

Dumbbell Skier Swing
A. Stand with a 5- to 8-pound dumbbell in each hand, feet hip-width apart, and arms by your sides.
B. Keeping arms straight, swing dumbbells back, hinging at the hips, bending knees slightly. In one swift movement, come back to standing and swing straight arms forward to chin height. Repeat.
Perform exercise for 45 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of rest.

Tuck-Up With Twist
A. Lie on floor with straight legs extended and together in front of you; arms straight and extended behind your head, palms together. Lift head, neck, and chest to hover off ground, left feet to hover off ground as well.
B. Quickly sit up, bringing arms up and forward, twisting to the left and driving bent knees toward chest. Return to lying-hover position before repeating movement twisting to the right. Continue movement pattern, alternating sides each rep.
Perform exercise for 45 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of rest.

REPEAT CIRCUIT 3

Circuit 4

Front Kick to Lateral Lunge
A. Stand holding the ends of one 5- to 8-pound dumbbell in both hands near chest.
B. Balance on left leg as you lift and kick right leg directly in front of you.
C. Without dropping right leg to the floor, shift weight to right and bring right foot to floor, coming into a right side lunge. Dumbbell stays by your chest throughout movement. Repeat. Change sides, lifting, kicking, and lunging with left leg on second set of this exercise.
Perform exercise for 45 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of rest.

Scissor Kick
A. Begin in hollow hold position—lying on back with head, neck, and shoulder lifted off floor and legs stretched long, feet hovering.
B. Lift arms straight up and hold them behind your head by ears while alternating right foot over left and vise versa. Continue this movement without dropping feet or head.
Perform exercise for 45 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of rest.

REPEAT CIRCUIT 4

Final Burst

Burpee
A. From standing, quickly bend at the waist to place both hands on the floor in front of you and jump both feet directly back, dropping chest to the floor.
B. Immediately jump feet forward to outside of hands, come to standing, and jump up, raising arms to the sky. Repeat.
Perform exercise for 1 minute at high intensity.

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