For many hardcore weightlifters, the word “cardio” can be viewed as blasphemous as “build-up”.

Although research has shown that about 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise a day has a variety of benefits, including lowering LDL cholesterol (also known as “bad”) cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as weight loss, gym goers ignore those Benefits often for a variety of reasons. They may not have enough time, or they may feel like it is “interrupting their profits,” or just because old-school cardio is downright boring. Instead, they go straight to the weights.

Here’s the good news: cardio never had to be limited to just everyday machines. If you have access to battle ropes, kettlebells, and medicine balls, you can get the benefits of cardio without the joint-damaging effects of traditional cardio by using these tools as part of a workout day finisher.

Be calm, these tools will save your muscle gains as there are few or no eccentric muscle contractions (muscle lengthening under tension). Since these are mostly concentric contractions (when the muscle overcomes resistance and shortens) and isometric contractions, studies have shown that these types of cardio workouts are less likely to interfere with your post-strength recovery recovery.

The truth is, you don’t have to sacrifice your hard-earned gains while you maintain or improve your cardio workout. These machines are perfect to use when you’re short on time but need the benefits of cardio without compromising your recovery.

Cardio for fat loss if that’s your goal

These three high-intensity workouts below will increase your oxygen needs known as Excess Post-Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). This is necessary to return to homeostasis (equilibrium). Just think of it as your body’s way of catching up.

For every liter of oxygen you breathe in, you burn about five calories. By increasing your O2 needs (a result of workouts like the following) you will likely also be able to improve your fat loss and conditioning efforts.

When should you do this?

The following routines can be effectively used in strength training, muscle building, or fat loss.

Use one of these three finishers at the end of your workout or between workouts for recovery and fat burning. Then smile and wave at the people picking up the ellipticals.

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