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Low-Impact Cardio Dumbbell Workout for Beginners

Many people think they need to choose between cardio and strength training when selecting a workout. While you certainly can tackle the two types of exercise separately, doing them at the same time can help you get more bang for your buck.

Combining cardio and strength training into one workout is an efficient way to maximize calorie burn. While aerobic exercise, or cardio, burns calories, weight training builds muscle and burns fat, which helps you burn more calories at rest.

 I’ve found that most of my private weight loss clients are time strapped and really want to get the best workout in the shortest amount of time. Plus, if you dread cardio on its own, combining it with your strength training workout can make it more exciting — or vice versa!

To give you a taste of a cardio and strength combo, I created this five-move routine. The moves are low impact, meaning that they’re gentle on the joints. But low impact doesn’t mean low intensity! They are just as effective as high-impact moves.

Standing overhead reach with side taps

Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, pick up two dumbbells (one in each hand). I recommend starting light with 2- or 3-pound dumbbells. If that’s too easy, start with 5-pound dumbbells. Bend your elbows and lift the dumbbells into a goal-post position so that they are aligned with your shoulders. Breathe in and push the left arm up overhead as you tap the left foot out to the left, then come back to center. Repeat to the right. Alternate sides for 60 seconds.

Toe taps

Place one dumbbell on the floor in front of you. Perform toe taps as quickly as you can, alternating which foot you touch to the dumbbell. After 10 toe taps, bend down and lift the dumbbell into the air as you would during an overhead reach. Make sure to keep your core tight and not round your back. Place the weight back down and return to the toe taps. Repeat this circuit 10 times. 

Squats with punches

Hold a dumbbell in each hand, one in front of each shoulder. Bend down into a squat position, squeezing your glutes and abs. As you return to a standing position, extend your right arm straight out in front of you in a punching motion. Bring your right arm back in and squat back down. This time as you return to standing, extend your left arm straight out in front of you in a punching motion. Repeat 10 times on each arm; 20 squats total.


Marching in place with bicep curls

This move combines a simple march in place with the well-known bicep curl. Begin marching in place, making sure to bring your knee up so that your thigh is parallel with the ground. Once you establish a pace, begin to incorporate the bicep curl. When your right knee is in the air, perform a bicep curl with your left arm. Continue to alternate, keeping a comfortable pace. Perform 10 bicep curls with each arm.

Curtsy lunge

Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, hold the dumbbells in front of your chest. Step your right leg behind you and to the left, crossing it behind your left leg, while lowering into a lunging position (as you would to perform a curtsy). Return that leg to a standing position before lunging with the left leg by crossing your left leg behind the right. Repeat 10 times on each side.