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Build Muscle, Burn Calories, Save Time: The Best Cardio-Strength Combo Moves

Jun 14 2014 - 7:08pm

More isn't always better. In fact, we're learning that when it comes to exercise, short may be the way go [1] — but only if the intensity is turned up a notch [2]. One way to accomplish this goal is to maximize your time and efforts by rolling strength and cardio into one move. Each of these exercises works the entire body, leaves your heart racing, and doesn't require a single piece of equipment. See how many reps you can do of each in one minute, then start including these in your lunch-break routine or earn a gold star by busting them out after your next run!

Source: Thinkstock [3]


Let's start with burpees. It may be the move that we all love to hate, but there's nothing better for toning the entire body while also making the heart rate rise.

If a burpee is still a little intimidating to you, check out these ways to modify the move [4].

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Mountain Climbers

If you've taken a circuit-training class, then you're already familiar with mountain climbers. They're a favorite recovery move of trainers, and once you've done a round, you'll really start to wonder how that was a break at all! This move works the entire body, and if you can get your legs moving at a good speed, you'll swear that you just stepped off the treadmill.

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Squat Jumps

Squats are a go-to move for toning the legs and butt, and adding an explosive jump to the mix will keep the heart pumping while also giving the quads a little extra love.

Since adding a jump to this exercise can put more strain on your body, make sure to use your whole foot to jump, not just your toes. Keep your knees behind your toes to avoid back injury.

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Side Skaters

Don't let this move fool you — side skaters work the butt, hamstrings, thighs, and core. It also challenges your balance and agility and builds ankle strength. Pick up the pace on these, and in no time at all, you are sure to be out of breath!

If you find that you have a hard time balancing in this move, allow your back foot to touch the ground (as seen here), but challenge yourself by picking up the pace.

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Plank Jacks

Adding a new variation to basic plank is a great way to challenge your body's strength even further, and the plank jack is no exception. See how fast you can let yourself go while still keeping good form — your heart will thank you for it!

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