Although many people try to avoid cardio at all costs, others see “exercise” as synonymous with “sweat.” If you’re someone who wants no part in a workout unless you’re panting and perspiring, then you’re also probably the person who has a difficult time making it to the weight room post-elliptical. Because we’re all trying to feel and look our best this summer, luckily there are ways to do both kinds of exercise at once. Four fitness experts have lifted the weight off our shoulders by giving us their tips for tackling strength training and cardio simultaneously.

Woman working out

1. Think outside the box. To most, cardio typically means running, cycling, or swimming — and even that last one is too much of a stretch for some. But Janine Delaney, wellness coach and social media fitness influencer, urges you not to limit yourself. According to her followers, she’s the #jumpropequeen. Delaney advocates for jumping rope over any other form of cardio because it helps develop muscle strength in the upper body, particularly the shoulders, back, and arms. “Jumping rope can burn up to 700 calories per hour and is a great way to kick-start your digestive system and get your body to burn more calories throughout the course of the day,” she says. “There is no better way to trim down and get lean.” Regardless of whether or not you choose jump roping, switching up your cardio of choice regularly will engage different muscles groups and, ultimately, improve your strength.

2. Adjust some elements. If you’re set in your ways, Lauren and Kelly Collins, sisters and co-founders of SISSFit, an online training community for women, understand, which is why they recommend making alterations to your pre-existing routine. By merely adjusting incline, tension, and speed, your body can experience an entirely different workout. Kelly Collins suggests bumping up your incline to six on the treadmill. “The increase in elevation will work to tone your calves, hamstrings, and glutes,” she says. And as for speed, incorporate sprints into your jog or run. “Not only will you burn more calories, but you will also build more total body strength.”

3. Add weights. Too tired after the bike to hit the weight room? We feel you, and so does Mark Occhipinti, CEO of American Fitness Professionals & Associates. Thankfully, there’s a simple solution: Bring your weights with you to cardio. Swimming is one of the cardio exercises that lends itself well to this strategy. Occhipinti recommends adding weighted hand mitts and short swim fins to the feet to enhance strength and power. “While many fitness enthusiasts may be familiar with swimming for cardiovascular conditioning, they may be unaware that swimming can also provide strength building for muscles of both the upper and lower body,” Occhipinti remarks.

4. Alternate between the two. Splitting your workout into two 30-minute parts, as many people do, can seemingly elongate the session. According to Tom Holland, exercise physiologist and founder of fitness consulting company Team Holland, switching between strength training and cardio, either in short or longer intervals, minimizes the monotony. For a shorter series, Holland suggests alternating between 60 seconds of a “strength move” and then 60 seconds of cardio for 10 minutes altogether. Some of his recommendations? For cardio, try running in place, jumping jacks, and bicycle crunches, and for strength training, try pushups, planks, and burpees. For longer bursts, he proposes doing 10 minutes of cardio, 10 minutes of strength work, and then repeating this for an hour. If you’re feeling bold, consider mixing up what cardio exercises you do within that hour.

Which do you prefer: cardio or strength training? Let us know @BritandCo!

(Photo via Getty)