The Perfect Push-Pull Workout, Part 3: Cardio & Core

Studio SWEAT onDemand trainer Cat Kom teaching an indoor cycling class

Well here you are in part three of our ultimate push-pull workout routine. You’ve pushed and pulled till the cows came home, you’ve gone to town on your upper and lower halves, tightened your guns and toned your gams. Now, it’s time to put it all together with some heart-pumpin’ cardio and belly-bustin’ core! 

If you remember your push-pull workout schedule (which we’ve listed again below), you’ve got two days of cardio & core in between your push and pull days. We do this to give your muscle groups a bit of a rest, while focusing on cardiovascular health and functional core strength — two very important parts of your overall fitness. If six days is a bit too much for ya, not to worry, you can always combine these workouts into one day. Here’s that schedule again: 

• Monday — Upper body push
• Tuesday — Lower body push
• Wednesday — Cardio & abs
• Thursday — Upper body pull
• Friday — Lower body pull
• Saturday — Cardio & overall core
• Sunday — Rest

How we’ve broken these two cardio/core days up is like this: day 1 will be longer periods of cardio intermingled with specific ab training, and day 2 will have shorter bursts of cardio mixed in with overall core workouts. Ready? Here we go!

Day 1 — Longer Cardio & Ab Work

Jogging or Elliptical
Time: 20 minutes

Fit young woman working out on an elliptical machine.

First off, let’s get our heart pumping with some moderate jogging, running, or if you don’t have the knees for it, the elliptical machine. You’ll want to break a sweat here, but don’t overdo it, more cardio is coming your way!

Vertical Leg Crunches
3 sets of 12

Woman in green performing vertical leg crunch on a grassy field.

These beauties have been found to be 116% more effective than regular old garden-variety crunches! Make sure to keep your knees slightly bent throughout the routine, and engage your abs the entire time. Keeping your chin off of your chest, try to touch your ankles with your hands, but if you can’t just reach as far as you can.

Stairs or Stair Climber
Time: 20 minutes

Woman in magenta workout clothes is working out on a stair stepper machine.

Climbing up those flights of stairs is an excellent way to get your heart rate up while building endurance. It can get kind of tough, so make sure to adjust the resistance as needed, and then gradually increase when you start getting comfortable. 

Bicycle Crunches
3 sets of 50 (25 per side)

Sporty young woman performing bicycle crunches at the gym.

It’s back to the mat for you! These near-perfect ab burners get your obliques and deep abdominals. Keep your forward leg straight out in front of you, and your back leg at a 90-degree angle, with your hands at the sides of your head. 

Ab Rollout
Start with 5, move to 10 when you get more comfortable. 

Young sporty gentleman doing ab wheel roller workout.

We’re not going to lie, Ab Rollers are BRUTAL. But also, they’re kind of the best. Even though they work tons of muscles in your upper body, as well as general core muscles too, it’s astonishingly good at hitting those rectus abdominis right where they live. Just keep those arms straight, and drop down to a point where you feel comfortable, and pull yourself back up.

And if you don’t have an ab wheel, consider replacing this with an extended plank which is just a high plank, but where you walk your hands out further in front of you and hold it for like 5 seconds a few times. 

Indoor Cycling
Time: 20 minutes

Studio SWEAT onDemand trainer Cat Kom teaching an indoor cycling class

You’ll want to close out day 1 with a bang… and that can only mean one thing — Spinning! A full-on indoor cycling class is guaranteed to get your heart a-rump-pa-pum-pumping through hills, drills, dips, and digs. And if you need a lil guidance for this one, try our 20 Min All Out Cycle Class — you’ll know what we mean.

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Day 2 — Shorter Cardio & Core

Jump Rope
3 sets of 50

Young fit woman in red clothes jumping rope in her living room.

There’s a reason boxers in training have long favored this simple movement. Actually there’s plenty, endurance building and cardiovascular training among them. Depending on your comfort level, you can either do doubles or singles, and not to worry if you keep getting caught up in the rope, just make sure you keep your count going until you’ve reached 150. Sounds like a bunch, but we know you got this.

3 sets of 30-60 seconds (30 sec rest between sets)

Tanned Asian man performing a plank at home.

A favorite amongst professional athletes and fitness trainers alike, the plank is always a good idea. This total-core worker hits your abs, back, and sides, plus improves conditioning, balance, and posture. Remember to keep proper form throughout: back in a straight line, elbows directly under your shoulders, head comfortably looking forward. 

Start with 5, aim for 10

Active woman performing a burpee in a garage gym.

You knew this was coming! No quick cardio blast is complete without the all-around attack of the beautiful burpee. You can pepper these in between other workouts or just do them all in a row. You’re still getting in some amazing cardio and good core work (as well as a bajillion other things).

Side Plank
3 sets of 20 seconds per side

Man performing side plank on a workout mat at a gym.

The little (or maybe big) brother of the classic plank, the side plank really seems to kick things up a (thousand) notch(es). Side planks boost your core strength, while actually protecting your spine and giving you better posture and balance. But you’ve got to make sure those pesky hips stay in position – no sagging!

Medicine Ball Slam
3 sets of 20 slams

Man without a shirt on performing a medicine ball slam in an empty gym.

Closing out our list is a lil trickster: the medicine ball slam is a wonderful cardio workout, core crusher, plus all around body blaster. And it’s also pretty good for letting off some steam (just pretend your boss/ex/snooty neighbor is the ball, and give it a good slam). Start off with the ball above your head, bring it down with all your might directly between your legs beneath you, try and scoop it up on the bounce and come back up again. 

Extra Cardio Options to Switch It Up

Remember, our bodies just love falling into routine, so to spice up your cardio workouts, why not try some of these beauties to give your ticker some variety:

1) Sled Pushes & Pulls
2)Battle Ropes
3) Rowing Machine
4) 5-Minute Bursts on an Assault or Indoor Cycling Bike
5) Jumping Jacks

Ok, well we guarantee you will feel all of this cardio and core-crushing goodness! And if you’re looking for more (variety, guidance, motivation, whatever!) be sure to sign up for a 7-Day Free Trial with Studio SWEAT onDemand. We have a full library of cardio classes and core workouts. We offer an endless library of the best indoor cycling and full-body workouts around. You can use these to augment your fitness routine, add to it, change it up, whatever works. Sign up now and let’s get to sweating!

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