Can I do cardio and strength training in one session?

Imagine a workout routine that allows you to kill two birds with one stone – achieving cardiovascular fitness and building strength – all in a single session. Is it possible? The answer is a resounding yes. Combining cardio and strength training in one workout session has become increasingly popular due to its efficiency and time-saving benefits. From burning calories and improving endurance to toning muscles and increasing bone density, this dynamic duo workout offers a myriad of advantages. In this article, we will explore the benefits, considerations, and guidelines for incorporating cardio and strength training into one power-packed session. So grab your sneakers and get ready for a workout that will leave you feeling empowered and accomplished.

Benefits of combining cardio and strength training

Improved cardiovascular fitness

Combining cardio and strength training in one session can greatly improve your cardiovascular fitness. Cardio exercises such as running, cycling, or swimming increase your heart rate, improve blood circulation, and strengthen your heart. On the other hand, strength training exercises, like lifting weights, enhance the efficiency of oxygen utilization in your muscles. When you combine the two, you challenge your cardiovascular system and improve its overall function, allowing you to perform physical activities with more ease and endurance.

Increased muscle strength and endurance

One of the main benefits of combining cardio and strength training is the increased muscle strength and endurance it brings. While cardio exercises primarily focus on training your cardiovascular system, strength training targets your muscles. By incorporating both into one session, you can stimulate muscle growth, increase muscle strength, and enhance muscular endurance. This combination not only helps in achieving a stronger and more toned physique but also enables you to perform daily activities with less fatigue.

Efficient use of time

Combining cardio and strength training in one session enables you to make the most of your time at the gym or during your workout routine. Instead of dedicating separate workouts to each type of exercise, you can save time by integrating them into one comprehensive session. This way, you can maximize the benefits of both forms of training without compromising on the duration of your workout. For busy individuals, this efficiency is highly valuable, allowing them to maintain a balanced exercise routine within their busy schedules.

Enhanced weight loss

If weight loss is one of your goals, combining cardio and strength training can be highly effective. Cardio exercises are known to burn calories, while strength training helps to increase muscle mass. By combining the two, you can create a synergistic effect that leads to greater calorie burn and fat loss. Cardio exercises elevate your heart rate and accelerate your metabolism, while strength training helps to build lean muscle mass, which in turn boosts your basal metabolic rate (BMR). This means that even at rest, you burn more calories, thereby aiding in weight loss.

Better overall health

Combining cardio and strength training provides numerous benefits for your overall health. Cardio exercises help to lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, and improve lung function. Strength training, on the other hand, strengthens bones, increases flexibility, and improves balance and stability. By combining the two, you address multiple aspects of your health and well-being, leading to better overall physical fitness and a reduced risk of various health conditions.

Considerations before combining cardio and strength training

Fitness level

Before combining cardio and strength training, it’s important to assess your fitness level. If you’re a beginner, it’s advisable to start with separate sessions to allow your body to adapt and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts. If you’re more experienced and have a good fitness foundation, you may be able to handle the demands of combined sessions. Be mindful of your current fitness level and progress gradually to avoid overexertion or risk of injury.

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Goals and priorities

Consider your goals and priorities when deciding whether to combine cardio and strength training in one session. If your primary goal is to increase muscle strength and size, focusing on dedicated strength training sessions may be more effective. On the other hand, if you prioritize cardiovascular fitness or weight loss, combining both forms of exercise can be beneficial. It’s important to align your workouts with your specific goals to ensure you’re optimizing your time and efforts.

Proper form and technique

Maintaining proper form and technique is crucial when combining cardio and strength training. Poor form can lead to improper muscle activation, decreased effectiveness of exercises, and an increased risk of injury. Before beginning combined sessions, ensure you have a good understanding of proper form and technique for each exercise. Consider working with a qualified fitness professional or trainer to ensure you’re performing exercises correctly and safely.

Injury prevention

Injury prevention should always be a priority when combining cardio and strength training. It’s important to gradually increase the intensity and load of your workouts to allow your body to adapt and reduce the risk of overuse injuries. Ensure you incorporate proper warm-up and cool-down routines into your sessions, stretch regularly, and listen to your body’s cues. If you experience pain or discomfort, modify or stop the exercise and consult with a healthcare professional if needed.

Recovery and rest

Proper recovery and rest are essential when combining cardio and strength training. Both forms of exercise place stress on your body, and adequate rest is necessary for muscle repair and growth. Ensure you have rest days between sessions to allow your body to recover. Additionally, prioritize quality sleep, proper nutrition, and hydration to support your body’s recovery process. Neglecting recovery can lead to overtraining, decreased performance, and increased risk of injury.

Methods for combining cardio and strength training

Sequential training

Sequential training involves performing cardio exercises followed by strength training exercises or vice versa in the same session. For instance, you may start with a 20-minute jog or cycling session to get your heart rate up, followed by a series of strength training exercises targeting different muscle groups. This method allows you to take advantage of the elevated heart rate from cardio to optimize the muscle-building potential of strength training.

Circuit training

Circuit training involves performing a series of exercises targeting different muscle groups in a continuous manner, with minimal rest in between. You can incorporate both cardio and strength exercises in a circuit format, performing each exercise for a set amount of time or repetitions before moving on to the next. This method keeps your heart rate elevated while challenging your muscles. It’s a time-efficient way to combine cardio and strength training, as you can complete a full-body workout in a shorter amount of time.


et training

Superset training involves performing two exercises consecutively, typically targeting opposing muscle groups, with minimal rest in between. You can combine a cardio exercise with a strength exercise to create a superset routine. For example, alternate between a set of dumbbell squats and a set of burpees. This method allows you to engage different muscle groups while keeping your heart rate up, resulting in a challenging and efficient workout.

Interval training

Interval training involves alternating between periods of high-intensity exercise and lower-intensity recovery periods. You can incorporate both cardio and strength exercises into interval training. For cardio, include bouts of intense activities such as sprinting or jumping jacks followed by periods of active recovery like walking or marching in place. For strength training, perform high-intensity exercises such as weighted squats or push-ups for a set time, followed by a lower-intensity exercise like lunges or planks during the recovery phase.

HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training)

HIIT is a form of interval training that involves short bursts of maximal effort exercises followed by brief recovery periods. HIIT workouts can be designed to include both cardio and strength exercises. For example, combine rounds of jump squats or mountain climbers with kettlebell swings or bicep curls. HIIT is known for its calorie-burning potential and time-efficient nature, making it an effective method for combining cardio and strength training.

Complex training

Complex training involves combining strength exercises with explosive or plyometric movements. This method involves performing a strength exercise, followed immediately by a power-based exercise targeting the same muscle group. For example, perform a set of barbell squats, followed by a set of squat jumps. Complex training enhances muscular strength and power while also incorporating a cardiovascular component through the explosive movements.

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Sample workout routines combining cardio and strength training

Full-body workout with interval cardio

  • Warm up with dynamic stretches and light cardio for 5-10 minutes.
  • Perform a series of strength exercises targeting major muscle groups, such as squats, lunges, deadlifts, push-ups, rows, and shoulder presses. Perform each exercise for 10-15 reps or as appropriate for your fitness level.
  • After completing the strength exercises, transition into interval cardio. Perform high-intensity exercises, such as jumping jacks, burpees, or high knees, for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Follow each high-intensity exercise with a 30-second to 1-minute recovery period of lower-intensity exercises like marching in place or jogging on the spot.
  • Repeat the strength exercises and interval cardio circuit for 3-4 rounds.
  • Cool down with static stretches targeting major muscle groups.

Upper body strength training with treadmill intervals

  • Begin with a 5-minute warm-up on the treadmill, gradually increasing the speed and incline.
  • Move to upper body strength exercises, such as dumbbell bench press, shoulder press, bent-over rows, and tricep dips. Perform each exercise for 10-12 reps or as appropriate for your fitness level.
  • After completing a set of strength exercises, return to the treadmill for a 1-minute interval of high-intensity running or sprinting. Follow it with a 1-minute recovery interval of walking or slow jogging to catch your breath.
  • Repeat the upper body strength exercises and treadmill intervals for 3-4 rounds.
  • Cool down with a 5-minute walk on the treadmill, gradually reducing the speed and incline.

Lower body strength training with jump rope intervals

  • Begin with a 5-10 minute warm-up that includes dynamic stretches and light cardio.
  • Move to lower body strength exercises, such as squats, lunges, step-ups, glute bridges, and calf raises. Perform each exercise for 12-15 reps or as appropriate for your fitness level.
  • After completing a set of strength exercises, grab a jump rope and perform 1-2 minutes of high-intensity skipping. Follow the jump rope intervals with a 30-second to 1-minute rest period of marching in place or skipping at a slower pace.
  • Repeat the lower body strength exercises and jump rope intervals for 3-4 rounds.
  • Cool down with static stretches targeting the lower body muscles.

Circuit training for overall fitness

  • Warm up with a 5-10 minute jog or light cardio activity.
  • Perform a series of exercises that target different muscle groups, such as squats, push-ups, lunges, shoulder presses, planks, rows, and burpees. Perform each exercise for 30-60 seconds, with minimal rest in between.
  • After completing one circuit, rest for 1-2 minutes before starting the next circuit.
  • Repeat the circuit 2-3 times, focusing on maintaining proper form and intensity throughout.
  • Cool down with static stretches for major muscle groups.

Tips for a successful cardio and strength training session

Warm up adequately

A proper warm-up is essential before combining cardio and strength training. Warm up with dynamic stretches and light cardio activities to increase blood flow to your muscles and prepare your body for the workout. This helps to reduce the risk of injuries and improve your overall performance during the session.

Choose appropriate exercises

Select exercises that align with your fitness level, goals, and overall abilities. Consider exercises that target different muscle groups and provide a balance between cardiovascular fitness and strength training. Gradually progress to more challenging exercises as you improve your fitness level and strength.

Manage intensity levels

It’s important to manage the intensity of your workout to avoid overexertion or burnout. Listen to your body and adjust the intensity according to your current fitness level and energy levels. Gradually increase the intensity over time as your fitness improves, but avoid pushing yourself beyond your limits too quickly.

Maintain proper form

Maintaining proper form and technique is crucial in order to perform exercises correctly and prevent injuries. Focus on proper alignment, engage your core, and use controlled movements. If you’re unsure about your form, consider working with a qualified fitness professional who can guide you and ensure you’re performing exercises safely and effectively.

Monitor heart rate

During cardio exercises, it can be helpful to monitor your heart rate to ensure you’re working within an appropriate intensity range. This can be done using a heart rate monitor or by checking your pulse manually. Aim to reach a target heart rate range that corresponds to your fitness goals and gradually increase or decrease the intensity as needed.

Stay hydrated

Hydration is crucial during any workout session, especially when combining cardio and strength training. Drink water before, during, and after your workout to maintain proper hydration levels. This not only helps with performance but also aids in recovery and prevents dehydration-related issues.

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Listen to your body

Your body knows best, so listen to the cues it gives you during your workout. If you feel pain, dizziness, or excessive fatigue, it’s important to modify or stop the exercise accordingly. Pushing through discomfort can increase the risk of injury. Trust your body and give it the rest and care it needs to recover.

Common mistakes to avoid


One common mistake is overtraining, which can lead to burnout, decreased performance, and an increased risk of injuries. Be mindful of your workload and give your body sufficient time to recover between sessions. Listen to your body’s signals and take rest days when needed.

Neglecting warm-up and cool-down

Failing to warm up properly before your workout can increase the risk of injuries. Additionally, skipping the cool-down can lead to muscle soreness and stiffness. Make sure to allocate time for both warm-up and cool-down exercises to properly prepare and recover your body.

Inconsistent training

Consistency is key when it comes to seeing results and improving fitness. Skipping workouts or having long gaps between sessions can hinder progress. Aim for regularity and create a sustainable workout routine that you can stick to in the long run.

Poor exercise selection

Choosing exercises that are inappropriate for your fitness level, goals, or body mechanics can lead to ineffective workouts or injuries. Ensure you select exercises that suit your abilities and align with your objectives. If in doubt, consult with a fitness professional for guidance.

Ignoring proper nutrition

Proper nutrition plays a crucial role in supporting your training and overall health. Neglecting nutrition can hinder your progress and recovery. Fuel your body with a balanced diet that includes adequate protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats to support your workout performance and muscle recovery.

Not allowing sufficient recovery

Rest and recovery are essential for muscle repair, growth, and overall performance. Pushing yourself too hard without giving your body enough time to recover can lead to decreased fitness, increased risk of injuries, and burnout. Prioritize recovery days, quality sleep, and relaxation techniques to optimize your training and overall well-being.

Benefits and drawbacks of separate cardio and strength training sessions

Benefits of separate sessions

Separate cardio and strength training sessions allow for focused and specific workouts. It enables you to dedicate more time and energy to each type of exercise, potentially leading to greater improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness or muscle strength. If you have specific goals that require specialization, such as training for a marathon or increasing muscle mass, separate sessions can provide a more tailored approach.

Drawbacks of separate sessions

Separate sessions may require more time commitment and add complexity to your workout routine. It can be challenging to schedule and maintain separate workouts consistently, especially for individuals with busy schedules. It may also result in overlapping muscle groups being fatigued, leading to decreased overall training performance or reduced motivation.

Factors to consider when choosing one or separate sessions

When deciding whether to combine cardio and strength training or have separate sessions, consider your goals, time availability, and personal preferences. Combining sessions can be more time-efficient and provide a comprehensive approach to overall fitness. However, if your goals require specific focus and specialization, separate sessions may be more suitable. Experiment with both approaches and find what works best for you and your unique circumstances.

Expert opinions on combining cardio and strength training

Opinions from fitness trainers

Fitness trainers often recommend combining cardio and strength training for overall fitness and well-being. They emphasize the importance of an integrated approach that includes both forms of exercise to achieve optimal results and improve overall performance. Trainers encourage individuals to gradually increase intensity, vary exercises, and listen to their bodies to avoid overexertion or injury.

Opinions from sports scientists

Sports scientists highlight the benefits of combining cardio and strength training for athletes and individuals looking to improve athletic performance. They emphasize the synergistic effects of both types of training on muscle development, endurance, and cardiovascular fitness. Sports scientists also suggest incorporating interval training and varying training modalities to keep the body challenged and continually adapt.

Opinions from professional athletes

Professional athletes often combine cardio and strength training in their training regimens. They recognize the importance of having a well-rounded fitness profile and the role that both cardiorespiratory fitness and muscular strength play in their respective sports. Professional athletes prioritize structuring their workouts to optimize performance and minimize the risk of injuries.


Combining cardio and strength training in one session can provide numerous benefits, including improved cardiovascular fitness, increased muscle strength and endurance, time efficiency, enhanced weight loss, and better overall health. However, it’s important to consider factors such as your fitness level, goals, and proper technique before integrating the two. Various methods such as sequential training, circuit training, and interval training can be used to combine cardio and strength exercises effectively. Sample workout routines provide practical examples that can be tailored to individual preferences and fitness levels. Tips for a successful session, common mistakes to avoid, and expert opinions further inform and guide individuals on the benefits and considerations of combined training. Ultimately, finding the right balance between cardio and strength training, whether in one session or separate sessions, will allow you to optimize your fitness and overall well-being.