The Ultimate Cardio Workout


When it comes to breaking down the different aspects of a workout, many folks would include strength training, cardiovascular training, and flexibility as common answers. These are all aspects of fitness and all play an important role in helping folks reach their goals.


With the “cardio” component, there are countless ways to improve upon it. Before we share a sample workout, let’s define the term. What is “cardio” anyway? The term cardio (Greek: kardia) refers to the heart. Improve your cardio fitness and you improve how efficient your heart is. There are three energy pathways in the body; alactic, lactic, and aerobic, and each refer to different bouts of exercise intensity and duration.


Many individuals recommend one form of cardio training over the other. For example, some say just perform high intensity interval training (HIIT) and you will reach your goals. Others promote less intense, longer bouts of exercise as the best way to get results. Many make the case that forms of “strength training” are all the cardio training you need since the heart rate is increasing and the heart is being challenged.


Be Consistent

Before you worry about what type of cardio training is best for you, make sure you are getting into the gym and exercising on a consistent basis. Too many people sweat the small stuff prematurely. If you are exercising 3-4 times a month and are concerned with HIIT training vs. training for a 10k, you are concerned with the wrong details. What’s the best cardio workout for you? The most effective cardio workout is the one you are currently doing. Find something you enjoy doing and will stick with and maintain. Get moving consistently first, then adjust your programming accordingly.


Next Steps

Once you’ve got the big hurdle of consistency out of the way, you can begin looking at various methods of cardio training. If you are training for a marathon, then most would agree that it is important to log some miles and get those longer runs in. If you are training for a track event that doesn’t require you run more than 200 meters, then sprint work would certainly be a wise choice. If you are like the majority of folks out there and are simply looking to stay injury-free and get in shape, then incorporating a couple “cardio days” into the weekly schedule should work just fine. For adherence purposes, choose activities that you enjoy.


HIIT Works

While most of us have similar goals in the gym, we also have a similar dilemma – a lack of time. We are all extremely busy and going out for an hour long run is tough to fit into the daily schedule. The good news is we can get an efficient and effective workout in without spending countless hours in the gym. Thanks to interval training, you can get in, get results, and get out of the gym in a short amount of time. Intervals done at a high intensity are great for increasing metabolism, burning fat, and can even be beneficial for strength gains.


These interval training sessions have many variations and can be done with countless combinations of equipment and bodyweight-only movements. Here are two sample workouts below that have a similar setup but different equipment needs.



SAMPLE 1 – 30/90 routine – (Total Gym only)

A1. 30 seconds – Burpees – count your number and try to maintain, or improve, every round

A2. 90 seconds of “rest” – during your rest, complete 10 Total Gym Supermans

*Complete 7 rounds


B1. 30 seconds of work – Squat Jumps – count your number and try to maintain, or improve, every round


B2. 90 seconds of “rest” – during your rest, complete 10 Total Gym Pullups

*Complete 7 rounds



SAMPLE 2 – 30/90 routine (gym setting with various equipment)

A1. 30 seconds of work – Rower – track your meters and try to maintain, or improve, every round


A2. 90 seconds of “rest” – during your rest, complete 10 Total Gym Pushup & Pikes

*Complete 15 rounds

Doug Balzarini

Doug Balzarini, CSCS, MMA-CC, is a personal trainer, strength coach, international presenter, and the founder of DB Strength. He also owns a fitness facility outside of Boston called, “Iron Village Strength & Conditioning”. He was the head strength and conditioning coach for the Alliance MMA Training Center where he worked with many top professional MMA athletes. He has also worked at Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego and, most recently, spent a year in Saudi Arabia where he designed and created programming for a new state-of-the-art facility. Visit or for more information.

Leave a Reply