The Ultimate Total-body Cardio Workout Routine for Women

woman cardio training

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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