Bodyweight Workouts Cardio Muscle Mass Strength

Resistance Cardio — Ditch The Old Low & Slow Cardio Conundrum

Written by Ryan Murdock

I don’t know many people who truly LIKE “cardio”. Yeah, I know a couple guys who enjoy going out for the occasional run or hitting the road on a bike. But as far as I can tell, they’re part of a small minority — and I am not among them.

I’d love to trash talk dull obligation cardio until the Snuffleupagus finally makes a public appearance… But despite my total disdain, there actually ARE health benefits to grinding it out. If you can overcome the tedium, you’ll build better lung capacity. Your ticker will get a boost in horsepower. And your circulation will improve. And yes, you’ll burn a little of fat.

Sounds good, right?

Sure. But it ain’t all sunshine and roses…

Cardio also has a dark side. Doing too much can raise cortisol, which causes you to hold on to fat stores. The repeated two dimensional pounding of cardio can also result in repetitive stress injuries. Oh, and did I mention that it’s mind-numbingly boring?

But don’t worry! There is a solution…

You can get all the benefits of conventional cardio without the pitfalls. And you can even throw in an extra element of muscular development or toning while doing so.

What is this miracle cure of which I speak? It’s called Resistance Cardio.

Our friend and guest coach Elliott Hulse is a huge proponent — both literally and figuratively. I mean, he’s really really big. And he really likes training this way. Check out the video and you’ll see what I mean.

Don’t you just love that old school gym? We stumbled across it in sunny Key West, Florida. We immediately dragged in Elliot and his biz partner Mike Westerdal and “strongly encouraged” them to share some of their methods with us. These guys KNOW strength training, and we weren’t about to miss an opportunity for some edu-mu-cation!

So what the heck IS resistance cardio?

Grab some form of moderate resistance — in the video we’re using a barbell — and move that resistance through a circuit of full-body exercises. The exercises should be carefully chosen to take you through every possible range of human movement.

The benefits? Your muscles receive some stimulation. You build muscular endurance. And by stringing the exercises together into a circuit, you push your cardiovascular system into top gear.

Perform 10-12 reps of each exercise, and do them without rest. Then take a short breather and start again. You choose your own exercises, or try the movements Elliott shows in the video.

As you progress with the workout, try to reduce the amount of time it takes you to do each circuit, making them more “dense.” You can also increase the number of circuits that you perform in a session.

Use your imagination and create your own Resistance Cardio workouts! You’ll have fun, and you’ll get fitter in the process.

Let us know in the comments if you have any questions for Elliott, and we’ll ask him to swing by…

About the author

Ryan Murdock


  • Nice Video. I am starting to do these. Not only you lose fat, you build muscle too. Mass program, 1 min break is just not working for me…

  • I’ve been to Key West a couple of times and I never found this place. Pity. I love old skool gyms. Can we see some sample workouts? (I’m into dumbbells and kettlebells these days.)


    • It’s on US1, just past the tourist info center if you’re headed towards the strip. You’ll see it on the left. Cool place, and you can get a day pass for ten bucks or a 5-day pass for thirty.

  • I like his choice of exercises, they flow nicely together, no need for stopping and changing equipment or stance / positions. I use this style of training in the gym with some clients but change from bench to standing to bench to mat. . . . . . . takes away some of the intensity, I will change things up from now on. Thanks guys, another great one.

  • Isn’t this crossfit under a different name?? the crossfit comminuty have been doing this kind of workout for years,what is the difference?,apart from rep ranges and no bodyweight stuff the premise is the same.or is there something i’m missing?

    • This is absolutely CrossFit. Ive been doing this for years and anyone who considers themselves in great shape should try a MetCon and see what they are really made of.

      • Hi guys,
        Perhaps Crossfit is using the same principles or exercises. Does it really matter?? Good movement is good movement. Smart exercise is smart exercise. If more people are doing it. Awesome. It’s just more proof that it makes sense. So I’d like to thank Elliott for sharing a strategy that a lot of people on this blog have NOT seen.
        So thanks for posting guys, but lets show some respect for people who give of their time to share with us. And let’s use real names. From now on we’ll be deleting any comments from people using “pen names”.

      • Yes Crossfit has been using this style, among others that Coach Glassman calls being a fitness whore. They take the stuff that works and package it into their program and call it Crossfit. I have done CF for years, back when it was the old blue website but well before CF people were doing Barbell complexes. Istvan Javorek developed this style back in the dark ages. There have been many coaches who have used complex style training since, and now everyone does it because they know it works. I would consider myself to be a crossfitter, but I dislike the attitude that many people in the community take when they say things like “this is crossfit, you are copying”. CF did not invent training. Does CF work? Yes and no. Applied properly it works well. Done with no knowledge of how to apply it, the result is injury and burn out. Lastly, metcon is not the complete measure of fitness and should not be used to demonstrate a point. Many of my clients are weak and sick when the start, the last thing they need is another stressor on their bodies. Smart, focused training is more important when combined with lifestyle modifications (nutrition, decreased stress, sleep patterns etc.). Once an individual begins to see improvements in their hormonal profile, core strength, movement efficiency then it is an appropriate time to ‘see what they are really made of’.
        Thanks for the link, Barbell Complexes, Resistance Cardio or Met Con, whatever you want to call it, the technique is effective for the individual who is ready.

  • Actually that appears to be the EXACT same workout that Randy Couture has shown in video and in his new book….same exercises, same order, same idea. Saw it a few years ago on youtube.

  • I’m actually heading to the Keys Feb 10-14th! Where is this gym? I Gotta have a gym to hit while I’m there 🙂 Thanks!

    • Hey bro,
      Yeah, not looking forward to going back to that!! 🙂
      We’re in Vero Beach now filming one more program before kicking back for a couple days and then heading home on Monday. Hope to catch up with you soon man!

  • Comment deleted… Please keep comments constructive and conducive to intelligent conversation. We have no problem with you re-posting in a way that will spark productive debate. But respect our guests please.

  • Saludos.
    El trabajo en circuito, trabaja la Resistencia a la Fuerza, así como el sistema cardio pulmonar específicamente, de manera aerobica o anaerobica, o ambas resistencias ??
    Gracias por su atención a la presente

  • Ok, I want more of this. Tried this at the gym. Love it. Had people come up to me and ask what I was doing. I’m not the most creative person…that’s why I like buying things like bodyweight blueprint 🙂 where things are mapped out for me. Does this guy have a program? Becuz I’m ready to buy it.

    • Cool, glad to hear you enjoyed it April – we had a great time working out with Elliot too 🙂

      A whole pile of our readers wrote in to ask about Elliot’s stuff. Stay tuned, we’ll see him tomorrow in Orlando and will negotiate our readers a discount on his programs 😉

  • We have a fairly small gym where I live. Alot of machines, but not many free weights. I usually start at one end of the machines and do 12 reps on each as I move up the line. When I finish 1 circuit I rest for a few minutes and do some stretching, then start again. It takes about 15 minutes per circuit. 2-3 circuits will wear me out.

  • Cool video guys 🙂

    @ Deb – I would start with an empty Oly bar. As you get better at completing the circuit add 5 lbs to each side each week or so.

    @ Gary – You’re right! Hybrid Strength training is very, very similar to CrossFit… and bodybuilding, and powerlifting, and strongman, and bodyweight training and gymnastics.

    I’m kind of a copycat… I take what works, use it and then share it. I hope that’s cool… I wouldn’t want to be in copyright infringement or anything 🙂

    @ Not Buying It – I would love to try a “MetCon”… can you tell me more about it.

    Thanks again guys!

    • @ Elliot how many laps of this cirquit would you recommend to somebody that is
      a) trying to get started/in shape after a long break from exercising?

      b) experienced and in pretty descent shape?

  • There’s nothing new under the sun: What Elliot Hulse is demonstrating was common in the 60s but was abandoned because the workout did not do anything well. That is not to say that it cannot be fun to do.

    So what is all this talk about boring cardio workouts?! Any workout can be both worthwhile and enjoyable with the right mindset, particularly focus. Focus on the endpoint and focus on what is happening physiologically and mentally right now.

    I understand that your clients are often looking for a quick fix and that they like to workout indoors, both of which are repugnant to me. To each his own , huh? How about cranking out short radius turns for 30 minutes at the end of a downhill ski day? Focus on the power of your edges and the quickening of your heart rate (Adam will relate). Or running in the mountains or through the forest changing up your strides while pretending to be a cross-country skier, then “resting” with pull-ups on a branch or …you get the idea. Alex Lowe made himself one of the fittest men in the world with this last style of workout. If you are focussed on the endpoint, you can turn gardening (!) into a great workout. Our job is to teach clients the principles that will allow them to design their own workouts around activities they already love. These principles are not rocket science and there ARE NO SECRETS!!!

    My father, when I was a teen and wanted to get into weightlifting seriously, said, “Just do the sports you love mindfully and with intensity and your body will adapt.” Years later he got his opportunity to demonstrate the wisdom of this. 1968. Canadians had just learned that Russian hockey players were vastly more fit than the best Canada had to offer. I and several other university phys. ed. students invited the “strongest” NHL player in to do a battery of tests in the university exercise physiology lab. I asked my 56 year old father along to act as one of the controls as a basis of comparison.

    The hockey player (many Canadians will know who it was) was, indeed, impressive: bulked and supremely confident.

    My father (140 lbs/ 5’10”, about 60 lbs lighter) beat him in every – yes, every – strength test. I was not surprised that he did so in hand strength because he had been able to do multiple chin-ups with single fingers for years; what surprised me the most were his results in leg strength (more than twice as strong) and upper body (slightly less than twice as strong). Aerobically, they were closer to equal, though I think that Dad quit early because the VO2 max test was causing our medical advisor to be concerned. You see, my father had been a hard core alcoholic for about five years at that time and was in the worst shape of his life.

    Teach your clients the basic principles of periodization; encourage them to apply these to activities they already love; stop using language like “boring”, “mindless” , “secrets” and other similar negatives and help them to focus with the intensity of a Tibetan monk (some of the most joyous people I know). And as a 93 year old friend advises anyone who will listen, “Just keep moving, baby.”

    • LOL. I guess your 140 pound alcoholic dad could bench and squat in the 600-700 pound range. That’s believable.

  • nice easy to follow post.
    who cares if it’s been done before, no need to re-invent the wheel.
    a great way to work out when you have kids and limited time.

  • Response to Barry. Hopefully not seen as attacking…but I’ve heard too many people complain about people not going outside enough. Maybe I can give view about it…aside from assumed laziness.

    Besides finding different ways to do Cardio….cardio itself can be downright dangerous. I like being outside. I truly do. My brown skin testifies that I love being outdoors. But economics dictate that sometimes it truly isn’t safe to workout outdoors. I used to live in a ganginfested neighborhood. Got mugged once just waiting for the bus. My next door neighboor got shot walking outside his front door.

    I want to keep myself in shape . I love these workouts and yours too Adam and Ryan. Quick and to the point. I wish, I really wish I could run for miles south….or west without being harrassed. The park by my old apt? Gang bangers and hypodermic needles. Forget playing a game of frisbee with my kid. Truly awful. Depressing.

    These workouts are really good. Seem quick and to the point. I hate being at the gym and like getting myself in and out in under and hour.

    Great for busy working moms with children…I look better now than I did prebaby and won a fitness competition to boot! (my son is even imitating the bodyweight stuff I do) but great for people who really couldn’t do Cardio outside, like me.

    Gets me in and out of my home or out of the gym when I choose to go…so I have time to indulge in traveling to safe neighborhoods and doing activities I love. Like Dancing.

  • Excellent workout…reminds me of something my former trainer told me…anyone who says you can’t get cardio from weightlifting is out of their minds!!! Love it! This is a great reminder of a way to bring some added intensity to my workouts.

    Ryan, Adam and Elliot…Thanks for taking the time to share this.

  • Hey! I saw this video and thought what a brilliant idea cause I hate mindless cardio as well then I thought …have you guys forgotten good ‘ol trusty kettlebell training or clubbell swinging, that is a HUGE part of their strength training programs over @ RMAX? Kettlebells combine cardio and ressitance all wrapped into one : )

    BTW…does anyone know the tune that is playing in the background of the video? I’d like to download that into my ipod.

    • Hi Tom,

      Nope, we haven’t forgotten kettlebell training (see the link below), or Clubbell swinging. We actually created a full Clubbell product a couple years ago called The Clubbell Training Black Book. It’s still one of my favourite modes of training, but unfortunately we’re not able to post any new stuff in that area as I’m no longer certified to teach it.

      We posted a barbell cardio circuit this time around to give folks more options – both those looking for something new to try, and those who only have access to old school iron 🙂

      • Ryan,
        I see… it might not be a bad idea to mix up our routines since we don’t always have access to the kettlebell. I have this thing called a powerbell at home but the gym I belong to doesn’t have clubbells or kettlebells.

  • Guys – This is great. I take it take it that you cn also use kettlebells for the samne effect. I have one slight problem. The gym I go to – Firness First bought a set of kettlebells (15 – 80 lbs) but only one of each kettle bell!! Any way you can do something and get a video showing a program using only one kettlebell (perhaps TOM can help here as he has reference to kettle bells in his reply)??
    Bob G

    • Hi Bob,
      If your fairly new to kettlebells you’ll want to use one kettlebell only and start out with a lower weight till you develop more strength and good form. Don’t let a lower weight fool you…once you start swinging it you’ll know exactly what I mean 🙂 Its a great workout, no doubt. Check out:
      Kettlebell Foundation DVD Series


  • Nice vid. I’ve been looking more at these kinds of workouts lately, the short but effective kind (sometimes with weights) that leave lots of room for modification for each individual’s abilities. Men’s Fitness actually has a barbell complex workout in their recent issue. Unfortunately, like many of the workouts they feature, it doesn’t go into great detail and tends to leave out some specifics here and there. Or at least doesn’t clarify rep/set scheme clearly enough. Thanks for posting!

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