The Ultimate Total-body Cardio Workout Routine for Women

Time is a precious resource, and sometimes there isn’t much of it left in the day for working out. That’s why I’m a big fan of circuit training cardio workout routines. The go-go-go approach involves minimal rest between exercises, allowing you to pack in as much calorie-burning, muscle-toning work as possible in a short amount of time.

Below is a 20-minute cardio workout routine I created for women that packs a variety of total-body strength training moves and cardio intervals to get your heart rate up and keep your calorie burn high as you tone up from head to toe. A few things you’ll need:

· A mat

· A chair

· One set of medium-weight dumbbells (5 to 8 pounds)

· A medium-weight medicine ball or single dumbbell (5 to 8 pounds)

· One heavier set of dumbbells (8 to 10 pounds)

· A watch (so you can keep an eye on the time)

Take the first two minutes of the workout to warm up:

· Minute 1: Jog in place, gradually increasing your pace

· Minute 2: Do jumping jacks

The Circuit
As soon as you’re warmed up, get started with the first exercise. Do each exercise for 45 seconds, taking just 10 seconds to transition from one exercise to the next.

Complete this total-body cardio workout circuit twice and you’re done!

Walking Lunges: Stand with feet hip-width apart, hands on your hips. Take a step forward with your right leg, lowering down into a lunge until your right knee is bent at about 90 degrees. Keep your knee in line with your ankle. Push up, bringing your left leg forward as you stand up and step forward into a lunge with your left leg. Continue stepping forward and lunging, alternating legs.


Push Ups: Place your hands directly under your shoulders. Keep your back flat and your core muscles tight. Bend your elbows and lower down until your chest is a few inches from the floor and push back up.


Mountain Climbers: Hold a plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders, keeping your body in a straight line from head to toe. With your core muscles tight and your back flat, bend your right knee, pulling it in towards your chest. Extend it back out, lower your foot to the floor and switch legs, pulling your left knee toward your chest. Keep going, switching legs as quickly as possible while maintaining good form and keeping your back flat.


Dead Lifts: Stand with your feet hip-width apart with a slight bend in your knees, holding your heavier set of dumbbells in front of your thighs. Bend forward from the hips, keeping the weights in front of your legs as you lower your torso so it's almost parallel with the floor and then lift back up.


Tricep Dips: Sit on the edge of a chair with your hands by your sides, palms facing down, holding the edge of the chair. Keeping your arms straight, shift your weight forward scooting your hips and butt off the seat so they are just in front of it. Bending at your elbows, lower down trying to get a 90-degree bend and then push back up.


Jump Rope: You don’t even need a real rope -- just mimic the motion with your arms. Jump fast and land softly each time, trying to get that heart rate as high as you can.


Lunge Hold With Shoulder Press: Holding a set of medium dumbbells in your hands, assume a wide, split-stance with your right leg forward, left leg back. Lower down into a lunge, keeping your front knee over your ankle. Holding the lunge position, bring your hands to just above your shoulders, palms facing forward. Raise the dumbbells straight up overhead and lower back down to just above your shoulder.


Hay Bailers: Holding a medium-weight medicine ball or dumbbell (5 to 10 pounds), bring the ball (or weight) down beside your right hip without rotating your torso. Keeping your chest and hips facing forward, engage your core muscles as you raise the ball up and across your body to above your left shoulder. Hold for a couple seconds, and then lower it back down by your right hip. Your second time through the circuit, switch sides, lifting the weight from your left hip to above your right shoulder.



Jump Squats: Sink down into a squat, and push off into a jump. Land softly and push your hips back as you return to the squat, keeping your core muscles engaged.



Weighted Sit Ups: Lie down on your mat with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Keeping your abs tight and your back flat against the mat, extend your arms straight out in front of your chest, holding a single dumbbell or medicine ball (5 to 8 pounds) in both hands. Squeeze your abs as you sit all the way up and as you lower back down to the mat with control, keeping the weight lifted straight up toward the ceiling the whole time.


If you push through these exercises and make it a routine, you’ll definitely feel the results of this weights-and-cardio workout!

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

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Rev Up Your Workout Routine!

Now that swimsuit and sundress season is on its way out, is your desire to exercise also starting to feel like a distant memory? It’s normal for your motivation to wane at certain times throughout the year. But skip too many workouts, and you may find yourself in a full-on fitness slump. To the rescue: These tips will ramp up your workout routine, so you can get back on track -- and finally achieve the results you want. 

Rev-up Tip No. 1: Buddy up

I’m a huge believer of group exercise, whether it’s with one partner or in a group. And research backs me up: According to a recent Michigan State University study, women worked out longer -- and harder -- when they were matched with an exercise partner than when they went it alone.

Why is two better than one? First off, working out with someone else is engaging: The social interactions are refreshing and the group energy is contagious. Plus, it’s harder to quit or slack off when everyone else is going strong. Try changing up your workout routine by attending a new class or pairing up with a friend. If you need an extra boost, consider splitting the cost of a personal training session with a friend -- or two.

Rev-up Tip No. 2: Look past your pants size
Most people hit the gym because they want to slim down or tone up. That’s fine, but you also need to look at the bigger picture. In fact, one study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity showed that women who use exercise to improve their day-to-day life (such as feeling happier, getting more energy and easing stress) were more motivated to work out than those who wanted to lose weight.

If you haven’t thought about it much before, jot down some ways your life and health is better when you’re following a regular workout routine. Some possible examples: You sleep better, feel more confident or have more control over stress. You’ll quickly see it’s worth the effort!

Rev-up Tip No. 3: Re-evaluate your goals
If you’re losing your mojo, it may be time to stop and think what you want to get out of your workout routine. Set a personal challenge: You may want to lose a certain number of pounds or feel more energized. Or you could set your sights on a new physical feat, like running a 10K or completing 15 push-ups. Just be realistic about how much time it will take, and set both short- and long-term goals. The small successes (jogging 15 minutes straight, going to the gym three times in a week) will help you stay motivated for the end goal.

Rev-up Tip No. 4: Shake up your workout routine
Too much of the same of anything (food, workout routines, reality TV) leads to boredom and burnout. That’s why I recommend trying new types of exercise to discover other enjoyable options. Bored of biking? Tired of the treadmill? Sign up for a new Pilates fusion or kickboxing class. One place to look: Daily deal sites, such as Groupon, often offer exercise classes at local studios and gyms at a fraction of the cost. I’ve tried tons of cool classes (without straining my wallet) this way!

Rev-up Tip No. 5: Pat yourself on the back
Be sure to give yourself credit for any progress you make on your workout routines or goals you achieve. The satisfaction of even small accomplishments will help propel you toward larger goals.

It also doesn’t hurt to have a reward system in place. Just keep in mind that the best treats are those that give you a boost (a spa treatment or cute new workout clothes) instead of setting you back (a 1,000-calorie dessert).

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

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