One barbell can give your entire body a cardio and strength workout in less than 10 minutes. Find out how in the latest installment of Yahoo Health’s original workout series, Triple Threat. (Photo by Will Mebane, graphic by Priscilla DeCastro/Yahoo Health)
A workout doesn’t have to be long to be effective. Whether you’re doing a strength routine or a cardio session, dialing up the intensity means you can still see results even if your workout is shorter.
This isn’t a new idea for anyone who has followed workout trends. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) classes have popped up all over the country, capitalizing on the idea of doing more work in less time. And it’s now common to see experts creating intense 20-minute, 10-minute, or even seven-minute workouts.
But if you really want a crazy-effective workout, trading time for intensity is only one tactic you can use. Another way is to blur the line between strength training and cardio training by lifting weights in a way that significantly raises your heart rate.
One way to implement this cardio-strength approach is with a type of workout called a complex. In a complex, you use one tool — such as a barbell or a pair of dumbbells — and perform a series of exercises back-to-back without setting down the weight.
“Complexes are what I consider the king of cardio strength training because they are so effective at eliciting such a huge metabolic response,” says strength and conditioning coach Robert Dos Remedios, author of Cardio Strength Training.
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Complexes have several advantages. First, you’re able to perform a large number of reps and exercises in a short amount of time, simply because you don’t have to change your equipment or allow for rest breaks. You also tend to play a mental game with yourself while doing this type of workout. You don’t want to put the weight down — that’s the whole point of a complex — so you push through until the end of the circuit even when you’d normally stop.
Dos Remedios created this full-body, three-exercise complex exclusively for Yahoo Health. He suggests performing two rounds of the complex after a traditional strength-training routine as a quick conditioning workout. (This is commonly known as a “finisher,” since it finishes off your workout.) Time your first round, and then rest as long as it took you to complete the first round. Tip: Use a light barbell the first time you try this — it’s much harder than it looks!
1. Push Press
The push press exercise strengthens your shoulders and skyrockets your heart rate so that it remains elevated throughout the circuit. (Photos by Will Mebane)
Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart. Hold a barbell at shoulder-level with an overhand grip, each hand placed just outside of your shoulders. Slightly dip by bending your knees and hips, then explosively stand up and press the bar overhead. Lower the bar to the starting position. That’s one rep. Perform 10 reps.
2. Front Squat
Work your glutes (butt muscles) and legs with the front squat.
Keep your feet and hands in the same position with the barbell in front of your shoulders. Bend at your knees and hips and press your butt back until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Raise up to standing. That’s one rep. Do 10 reps.
3. Bent-Over Row
Train your triceps and back with the bent-over row exercise.
Straighten your arms and hold the bar in front of your thighs. Bend slightly at your knees and hips so that your torso is at about a 45-degree angle to the ground. Row the bar up toward your chest, then return it to the starting position. That’s one rep. Perform 10 reps.
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