Cardio - everyone’s “favorite” word. But what exactly is cardio? Is it necessary? How long do I have to endure running on a treadmill or is TikTok’s 12-3-30 fad really a thing?
As we move through this blog, we’ll cover the ins and outs of cardio and how it can ultimately improve your overall health.
Is Cardio a Full Body Workout?
Cardio is important to incorporate into everyone's workout routine. Cardio, or also known as “aerobic exercise”, is fantastic for the health of your heart. Exercise that counts as cardio is: any type of exercise that involves intentional coordinated movement of the body that raises your heart rate for an extended period of time (Cleveland Clinic). An effective cardiovascular workout will have you consistently breathing faster than you would if you were at rest.
Can we do aerobic exercise to accomplish a full body workout? The short answer is, yes! When selecting what type of cardio you plan to do, you want to focus on a cardio workout that recruits major muscle groups all at once (glutes, quads, core, back muscles, etc) and works in all planes of motion (automatically recruiting more muscle groups to execute).
Different Types of Full Body Cardio Workouts
Dancing is a great full body cardio workout. A dance cardio workout can elevate your heart rate, cause you to break a sweat, and induces shortness of breath. Dance workouts also incorporate moving your whole body at once (upper body, core, and lower body), thereby working many large muscle groups at one time.
If you are looking for a really efficient and effective dance based workout, AKT is one of the best in the market. Every AKT dance class incorporates cardio, strength, and flexibility intervals, keeping the heart rate pumping the entire class! Another unique perk of AKT is their ability to track your total output through their heart rate monitors that are displayed within the studio. Members are able to see the intensity of their current movement and adjust as needed based on the goals of the class.
Boxing is known to be a fantastic full body cardio workout. Boxing improves your resting heart rate and muscular endurance. Boxing uses a variety of muscles at one time while requiring fast and plyometric movements.
When thinking of boxing you can’t only think of hitting bags and mitts for types of equipment you may use; there are additional types of training. Boxers must be light on their feet at all times, so they also train using jump ropes, circuits, stationary bikes, and treadmills to improve their cardiovascular endurance.
Swimming counts as cardiovascular fully body exercise. That’s because swimming recruits a lot of large muscle groups working together simultaneously and continuously, which requires your heart to work hard to pump oxygen throughout your body.
In addition, swimming requires breath control, while putting your lungs and body to work, therefore increasing your heart rate. What’s fantastic about swimming is that it is a low impact working and moving through the resistance of the water is great for building lean muscle mass.
According to Harvard T.H. Chan, Public school of health, HIIT is a type of interval training exercise. It incorporates several rounds that alternate between several minutes of high intensity movements to significantly increase the heart rate to at least 80% of one's maximum heart rate, followed by short periods of lower intensity movements. What makes HIIT accessible and easy for anyone to try, is that bodyweight can be used as the main source of resistance and doesn’t require large amounts of space. Interval training can also be incorporated into other types of workouts (dancing, rowing, machines, cycling, running, etc.) making it even more efficient, incorporating more variety, and training the entire body.
Full Body Cardio Workout at Home
Here is a quick 10 Min DANCE + HIIT at at home workout that requires no equipment. Check it out:
3 Minute WARM UP: 2 rounds – Round 1 each exercise 30 seconds/Round 2 each exercise 15 seconds
Alternating lateral lunges
Down dog to runner's lunge (alternating)
5 Minute DANCE CARDIO INTERVAL: 3 rounds – Round 1 each exercise 30 seconds/Round 2 each exercise 30 seconds/Round 3 each exercise 15 seconds
Ski hop 4X/Pony 4X
Party up 4X/1X plank burpee
2 Minute FINAL DANCE POWER MOVE PUSH: 2 rounds – Round 1, 45 seconds power move, 15 second rest/Round 2, 45 seconds power move, 15 second rest
2X jump squats/4X shimmy dow-up chest pop
Full Body Cardio Workout at the Gym
Looking to work with a little more equipment? Check out this full body cardio workout that can be done at pretty much any gym or fitness facility:
20 min Treadmill + AKT CIRCUIT Full Body Cardio Workout
10 min on Treadmill
- Brisk walk for 3:00 min on a slight incline (add in some arm circles, shoulder shrugs, and torso twists to warm up upper body)
- 45 seconds fast run or sprint, 15 second brisk walk to recover– 3 rounds total
Multiplanar Cardio Challenge
- Taking the speed between 2.5-3.5 (NO INCLINE), face the side of the treadmill (hold handle bar with both hands) and side shuffle– 30 seconds
- Repeat side shuffle other side– 30 seconds
- Facing straight on, skipping high knees (can hold both hands on handlebars to the sides for support and added plyometrics)– 30 seconds
- Brisk walk or jog for 30 seconds
2 rounds total
10 min AKT CIRCUIT
Interval 1: 8 min & 30 seconds
Using 5lb or 8lb weights
Round 1, 1:00 min each move (30 second rest)
Round 2, 30 seconds each move (30 second rest)
Round 3, 15 seconds each move (30 second rest)
- Squat to overhead press
- Heismans (holding weights or not)
- Bicep curl + reverse lunge (alternating)
- Burpee with push up
Final Power Push: 2 min & 30 seconds
Using 5lb or 8lb weights
Round 1, 45 seconds (15 second rest)
Round 2, 45 seconds (15 second rest)
Round 3, All out max 15 seconds (15 second rest)
- 4X plank jacks/4X alternating rows from plank or quadruped
Experience the Best Full Body Cardio Workout at AKT!
AKT is known to have some of the best full body cardio workout options at their studios! AKT offers four different signature class formats (and some hybrid classes off of those four formats at select locations)! AKT is a unique combination of toning, circuit, interval, and dance based workouts with new and original programming created every three weeks. More specifically the four different classes offered are: DANCE, BANDS, CIRCUIT, and TONE. Full body interval training is a modality offered in every single class, which is one of the most effective and efficient ways to train your body and get your cardio incorporated into your workout. In addition, in every single AKT class you will work in all planes of motion, become the strongest, most badass version of yourself, and have an absolute blast while doing it! Here’s a more detailed breakdown of each workout offered at AKT:
DANCE: Dance based interval training, alternating between cardio, strength, and flexibility intervals. Using memory recall and beat driven choreography to learn a heart pumping dance routine, strength intervals that focus on high rep-low weight burnout style exercises, and active stretching in between it all!
BANDS: Circuit based box and based class alternating between intervals of cardio (using resistance bands pulled from the ceiling and a step box) and strength training. Using memory recall to learn a beat driven sports based style routine with intervals of circuit style strength training.
CIRCUIT: High intensity interval training class with time circuits. Focusing on increasing endurance, strength, and power by building the intensity in each circuit! Can work to your personal max modifying and progressing easily when needed!
TONE: Low impact full body strength class where you are actively moving the entire time. Even though it is a low impact workout, it is not low intensity! Clients often burn 350-500 calories a class! Class focus is on strengthening and toning your upper body, lower body, and core, with a guided foam roll and stretch release at the end of class.
The content stays the same for a three week rotation for every class format. That way you can build your strength, endurance, coordination, and stamina with each workout and the focus of that current programming. Once you master the content– the exercises and props switch out providing a new challenge for the next rotation! Designed to help you not plateau, keep your mind engaged, as you work towards your personal fitness goals in a fun and supportive environment!
FAQs About AKT and Full Body Cardio Workouts
What is the best full body cardio workout for beginners?
If you are new to cardio or coming back to it after a long period of time, it’s best to start out with shorter workouts (10, 15, 20, 30 minutes a workout) and more low impact or modified movements! That way you can start with strengthening and building up your stamina over time without burning out too quickly or getting injured. Cycling, rowing, and swimming are fantastic low impact full body cardio workouts to start out with. Another option could be HIIT or dance based workouts! You can take low impact options or modification options as needed, and still get an excellent full body cardio workout. What to keep in mind with a full body cardio workout, is that the goal is to keep your heart rate elevated throughout the workout. Be sure to calculate your max heart rate (subtract your age from 220) and then using an apple watch, heart rate monitor, or checking your pulse throughout the workout, aim to keep your heart rate elevated for sustained periods of time. It doesn’t have to reach your all out max, but you can work towards your max heart rate throughout the duration of your workout!
Are full body workouts good for cardio?
Full body workouts and cardio are almost synonyms with each other! In order to elevate your heart rate you need to get your whole body moving and grooving! Running, cycling, dancing, swimming, boxing, are all going to bring your heart rate up and keep it there, as long as you keep going! What is going to take your workout to the next level is finding cardio workouts that can help specifically with working to your full range of motion in your cardio movements to promote optimal body mechanics and eventually adding more plyometric power moves! Full body cardio workouts that can work towards full range of motion and plyometric movements would be: dancing, boxing, HIIT, tennis, swimming, ice skating, and more! Moving through full range of motion will result in better muscle balance, joint stability, proper activation of the working muscles and overall better movement quality. According to the National Institute of Health, explosive plyometric exercises may improve neural efficiency through enhancement of neuromuscular coordination. Therefore, plyometric training increases neuromuscular performance by increasing the set speed in which the muscles may act. When you increase your performance and movement quality you are going to be able to work faster, harder, and bigger over time, which is going to challenge your cardio performance more and more!
What type of cardio burns the most fat?
All aerobic exercise is what is going to burn fat. When choosing what type of cardio workouts you would like to incorporate into your routine, it’s important to understand what is going to work best for your body and mind. A few things to consider personally for yourself:
- The more fit you are, the harder it will be to challenge your heart rate during cardio. You have to put out more effort to elevate your heart rate. If you are newer or returning back to working out, in the beginning it won’t take as much effort to elevate your heart rate. So selecting any type of cardio workout in the beginning can work to get you started!
- Consider injuries, low impact, or modification needs! If higher impact workouts aren’t something you can do right now that is okay!! For example, if you have sprained your ankle, no need to select running as your cardio workout, try swimming or cycling instead! Be sure to select a cardio workout that is going to work well with the needs of your body.
- What do you actually enjoy?! It is A LOT easier to stick to something that you have fun doing or love to do.
Here are some bullet points of things to consider for a few of the most popular types of cardio workouts:
Running- Can help you burn almost the most amount of calories per-hour compared to most cardio workouts. The average person will burn about 700 calories running for an hour. This can vary greatly depending on speed, incline, age, fitness level, etc. Running is high impact, so it would be harder on joints or on injuries. Only works in the sagittal plane, so won’t incorporate movements from the frontal or transverse plane (would need to incorporate those planes of motion in additional activity to have a well rounded workout). Easily accessible, anyone can run anywhere! Can be more of a solo or isolated activity– depending on what you like this could be good or not something you are interested in!
Dancing- The average person will burn about 300-800 calories per hour in a dance workout. Can be high impact or can be easily modified if low impact options are needed. If newer to dance workouts, coordination abilities may not be as strong– causing you not to be able to go as full out when trying to pick up the dance moves or moving to the beat. Meaning that there can be a little bit of a learning curve. Dance workouts do work in all planes of motion: sagittal, frontal, and transverse and will also work the legs, arms, and core because of the types of stylized movements! Dance workouts are usually done in a group setting but can also be done at home virtually. Dance workouts are usually driven by fun music, the exhilarating setting of being with a group of people, and can cause you to really work up a great sweat!
Cycling- The average person will burn about 300 calories an hour cycling at an easy-moderate pace, rising to about 600 calories for more strenuous cycling. This can vary on speed, resistance, indoor or outdoor, fitness level, etc. Cycling is a great low impact cardio workout! Can be done inside at a studio or gym OR outside on a bike. This can make it a group workout or a solo activity. It does only work in one plane of motion, the sagittal plane ( (would need to incorporate frontal and transverse exercises into other parts of your workout to have a well rounded workout). You are sitting and leaning forward for a prolonged period in hip and knee flexion, so it is also important to stretch and strengthen off the bike. For stretching focusing on quads, IT bands, inner thighs, low back, pectorals, anterior delts. For strengthening focusing on glutes, core, and upper back/lats to promote optional body mechanics long term!
Is a 20 minute cardio workout enough?
If you only have 20 minutes to do a cardio workout and nothing else, yes yes yes! It is absolutely better to take your 20 minutes rather than not workout at all. However, The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that adults should accumulate at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity 5 days per week OR engage in 20-minutes of vigorous activity 3 days per week. It is not a one size fits all solution, so it’s best to figure out what works best for your body for the duration of your workout, what types of cardio you enjoy most or best fit your goals, and timing it out with what compliments your personal schedule.
Why does AKT have the best full body cardio workout?
AKT really has it all when it comes to full body cardio workouts. All of the workouts at AKT are between 45-60 minutes long and each class includes moderate to vigorous aerobic intensity. If you are going 2-5X per week you are already hitting above the recommended average! All AKT studios also have heart rate monitors for purchase, so during your workout you can track your heart rate throughout class. You can easily see if you are working to the thresholds you need, in order to boost your heart rate, and sustain it there for your full body cardio goals!
All AKT classes are in a studio, in a motivating group environment. You’ll have a community of friends and trainers cheering you on towards your goals. The trainers at AKT are also all AKT Certified and many have additional certifications through NASM and ACE. Trainers are able to provide appropriate modification and low impact options, so if you need to adapt those into your workout, you are always in safe hands. AKT classes are all a blend of dance inspired fitness and sports medicine, created to a heart pumping playlist, and partying under a disco ball! So guaranteed you’ll also have an absolute blast during your workout! Makes it easy to want to come back– effective, efficient, supportive, and fun.