Using weights for your cardio workouts helps you build lean muscle while burning calories and boosting your fitness

Most of us associate cardio with endurance sports like running and cycling, but if you prefer to train with weights you can still improve your cardiovascular fitness without having to make time for treadmill workouts in your schedule. The key to doing so is increasing the speed and intensity of your workout, using explosive movements that get your heart pumping.

The benefits of using weights for your cardio are many and varied, so we enlisted Constantinos Yiallouros, an expert personal trainer at Anytime Fitness UK, for a cardio workout with weights anyone can try.

“Cardio training with weights is a great way to improve cardio, burn calories and build lean muscle,” says Yiallouros. “This workout only uses one set of dumbbells and can be completed with minimal space.” That makes it ideal to do at home, and if you haven’t got any weights at home, rectify that pronto by browsing our round-up of the best dumbbells.

“It’s important to warm up before any workout, and before a cardio workout with weights, you need to activate the muscles effectively,” says Yiallouros. “You will be putting load into your muscles throughout the workout so some mobility and bodyweight exercises are key here.”

1 World’s greatest stretch

Time 30sec 

From a press-up position bring your right foot up to your right hand, then drop your right elbow down to the floor, rotate your torso, and stretch your left arm up towards the ceiling. Then reverse the twist to stretch your right arm up to the ceiling. Return to the press-up position, then do the stretch on the other side.

2 Walk-out

Time 30sec

From standing, bend down and place your hands on the floor. Walk them forwards to finish in a high plank position with your hands under your shoulders, arms extended and body in a straight line from shoulders to heels. Walk your hands back to your feet, then come back up to standing.

3 Good morning

Time 30sec

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands interlocked behind your head. Hinge forwards from your hips until you feel the stretch in your hamstrings, then come back up.

4 Plank with shoulder tap

Time 30sec

Set up in a high plank position supported on your hands and toes. Holding the position, tap your right shoulder with your left hand, then return your left hand to the floor and tap your left shoulder with your right hand. Continue alternating.

5 Unweighted squat

Time 30sec

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, then push your hips back and bend your knees to sit back into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Drive back up to standing.

6 Reverse lunge with rotation

Time 30sec

From standing, take a big step back and lower until both knees are bent at a 90° angle. While holding this lunge position rotate your torso towards your front leg, then reverse the movement to come back up to standing. Alternate legs with each rep.

7 Press-up

Time 30sec

Start in a high plank position. Bend your elbows to lower your chest until it’s just above the floor, then push back up.

8 Step-in mountain climber

Time 30sec

From a high plank position step one foot in underneath your chest, then take it back out and step in with the other foot.