Most people’s definition of cardio is the long jog on the treadmill or stepping it out on the Stairmaster. The key to constant progress and renewed motivation is to keep the fire alive.

In the Journal of Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, researchers concluded that high intensity interval training (HIIT) is a very powerful method to increase whole body skeletal muscle capacities to oxidize fat and carbohydrates in previously untrained individuals. The fact that it was done on untrained individuals might have boosted the results, so incorporating HIIT in trained individuals needs better planning to make sure overtraining won’t rear its ugly head.

Once a cardiovascular capacity base has been established, you can get a little more creative with your cardio workouts. Assuming you’re training with weights 3 to 4 days a week, incorporate these sessions at the end, or count them as a whole workout.

These workouts would be split in two categories:


burpee exercise

Workout finishers are done at the end of your actual weightlifting workout. Since you are already fried from your workout, these are generally shorter but high in intensity. Keep in mind that your body will be performing in a state of fatigue, so choose the exercises wisely.

Finisher 1 – Tabata Style

  • DB thrusters (20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest)
  • Rope battle (20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest)
  • Burpees (20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest)

Perform 4 rounds. Rest 2 minutes between rounds.

Finisher 2

  • Barbell hang snatch x 6
  • Standing barbell squat x 6
  • Standing barbell press x 6
  • Snatch grip deadlift x 6

Same weight for all exercises. Do as many rounds as possible in 15 minutes.

Finisher 3 – Abs Circuit

  • Floor bicycle for 60 seconds
  • Mountain climber for 60 seconds 
  • Leg scissors for 60 seconds
  • Plank for 60 seconds

Rest for 2 minutes then repeat for three sets.


Lean Muscle Cardio Workout

High intensity intervals are not just a matter of pushing yourself to the max. Most people go all out until they can’t push anymore for a few sets, then call it a day. To see results, take the usual formula: 220 minus your age to calculate your average (depending on training age and fitness level) maximum heart rate.  

20 years old = 200 BPM max heart rate
40 years old = 180 BPM max heart rate

This is how the workouts would look. The goal is to reach your max heart rate in each interval after a few sets of gradual warmup (60 percent of max heart rate) and then you start your 5 sets as follow.

Twice a week

Week 1

5 sets of 60 seconds at 75 percent of max heart rate

Week 2

5 sets of 60 seconds at 80 percent of max heart rate

Week 3

6 sets of 60 seconds at 82 percent of max heart rate

Week 4

6 sets of 60 sec at 85% of max heart rate