Can weight lifting be considered cardio training?

Yes! With the key word being, "Can." What you have to keep in mind, is that you will need a base line of "Cardiovascular Fitness," as well as "Strength Endurance," to perform circuits that are needed to make weight lifting more cardiovascular effective. NOT recommended for beginners or novice exercisers. When performing circuits, remember: Select light-moderate workloads * Repetitions at 12-20 * Sets between 1-3, and don't forget to allow adequate recovery between sessions; 24-48 hrs. Total number of sessions per week for circuit training should be no more than three (3).


Yes, weight training can be considered cardio training.  Most people think they need to separate the two, but you don't.  However, you must make sure you're at a sufficient fitness level to be able to handle cardio weight training.  I always tell my clients to take baby steps when focusing on their fitness goals.  You must build a foundation of weight training and cardio before you should combine the two. Consult a personal trainer first to see where your fitness level is at before attempting something of this nature.
Sadie Lincoln
Absolutely! Any activity that allows you to increase your heart rate and keep it there can be considered cardio training. I personally love the multitasking benefits low impact, dynamic movements can have on the body.  Coupling lower body exercises with arms is a great way to elevate heart rate, challenge the core muscles and strengthen then entire body.  This is also allows you to get the most of every workout when pressed for time. A definite win in my book!

Definitely, weight lifting can be considered cardio training. Even more so if one is to superset with little rest in between, keeping the heart rate elevated. A benefit is muscle gain while others may sacrifice muscle with an endurance run. 

Sarah Johnson

Multi-task is my middle name! I love getting both strength and cardio benefits in the same workout. Just make sure the strength exercises use multiple body parts: think a lunge and bicep curl combo. And no wasting time in between sets! Take only enough time to grab a quick drink, wipe off with a towel and set up the next exercise. A strength circuit is perfect for keeping your heart rate up: while one muscle group is recovering, another is fresh for the next set of reps and you're constantly moving from one exercise to the next.

If you feel like you need an extra cardio boost during the workout, add 45 seconds of jump rope, jumping jacks or even marching in place between sets. This will also keep your heart rate elevated when you begin your next strength exercise.

Absolutely! Any training that get the heart rate up can be considered cardio. The best way to use weight lifting as cardio is to do it in circuit fashion where you pick 3 or more exercises and do them back to back without resting until the end of the circuit. When you do rest make it a short 30 to 45 second rest and then dive right back into action. I like to think of it as doing cardio, without doing cardio. A great way to burn fat and gain muscle!

Absolutely! Any activity which involves and increases heart-rate and respiratory functioning to provide the tissues of the kinetic chain with oxygen, nutrients, protective agents and a means to remove waste byproducts constitutes cardio training. This includes simple walking, gardening, dancing and yoga; to playing any individual or team sports to yep, bull-riding and weight lifting! All are forms of cardio training.
JC Pinzon

Yes it can, but you have to keep your heart rate up by taking little breaks in between sets. It is best if you wear a heart rate monitor and calculate your target heart rate using the Karvonen formula. Probably light weights with medium speeds will do the job if you work non-stop. You will need also to use different muscle groups per set and about 20 reps. It is a great way to train your cardio and strength in minimal time. I use this type of training a lot with my personal training clients.

Yes, weight lifting can be considered cardio training. One of the most effective weight loss programs comes in the form of circuit training. Circuit training, as defined by NASM, is "a series of exercises that an individual performs one after another with minimal rest." As far as cardio training goes, including resistance exercises as part of a circuit can be considered most beneficial for improving ones overall fitness level. When you perform cardiovascular exercise your heart rate is elevated, utilizing oxygen for an extended period of time. In return when performed as part of a circuit, an impressive caloric expenditure can be achieved, and improved muscular endurance can be noticed. I find my weight loss clients respond very well to this style of training. Each is able to work on body balance, while maximizing calorie expenditure, to help achieve the overall goal of weight loss.

Yes! Weight lifting can be considered cardio training when done correctly. Circuit training is a type of resistance training that will also stress your cardiovascular system. Circuit training is when you perform a series of weight lifting exercises in a row with as little rest as possible. Circuit training provides similar benefits to traditional cardio exercises with added strength benefits and is a great option for those seeking to complete a solid workout with a limited amount of time to do so.

Absolutely, I get some of my best sweats going while pumping weights. You get there by lifting lighter loads and doing more reps with little or no rest in between sets. If you want to get more specific, give me a buzz.

Absolutely! By minimizing your rest in between exercises you will keep your heart rate up for the duration of your workout so you will burn some major calories. Total body exercises such as a squat and shoulder press or lunge + bicep curl can really get you sweating. Your body doesn't respond to time or reps, but to intensity. Make sure to get out of your comfort zone and pay attention to how you feel after your workout. Once those endorphins are released, you will know you have made a difference!

Doing your weight lifting in a circuit style fashion (moving from one set to the next with little to know rest in between) can help raise the heart rate to aid in cardiovascular health while getting your resistance training in. One of the great ways to kill 2 birds with one stone is to pop in high intensity intervals (such as high knees, skaters, jump rope, kickboxing drills, etc.) for 30-45 seconds in between strength sets. This helps to increase endurance, lean muscle mass, and metabolism.


Yes it can! And significantly so if you perform it in a quick fire circuit - moving from one exercise to the next without rest.

For example:

Bench Press x 15
Pushups x 15
Chair Dips x 15
Rest for 60 seconds and repeat. 

This taxes both anaerobic and aerobic within your body and is the preferred style of fat loss trainers today.

Rick Richey

Oh Yeah! Your heart does not know if you run stairs, jump rope, or do a resistance training circuit. Your body may react in different ways to each different modality, but your heart acts the same by pumping blood and all the goodies within to the tissues in need. Depending on how you weight traing it is possible to get a cardio effect.

That would depend upon the variables used to lift weights. Circuit training in a manner that increases the heart rate and maintains it at a consistent level or zone training is one example. There are several group classes offered at health clubs that train with weights in this manner. 

There has been many studies showing that circuit training with weight lifting can burn the same if not more calories than traditional cardio training. So yes if done properly with proper intensity and proper rest times in between weight lifting can be considered cardio training.

Mr. Donovan Green
Athletic Training
Weight lifting in my opinion can definitely be considered cardio. Why? When you lift weights using high reps low weight load and low reps high weight load, you can achieve a very high calorie burn along with increased heart rate. I have heard for many years that weight training cannot be used as cardio but I have proven that wrong over and over again. The key point in making weight training cardio is to keep on moving from one exercise to the next. Make sure the weight load is challenging enough to get your heart rate revved up. Weight training has also been proven o burn more calories than simply using a treadmill. So the next time you go the gym, incorporate some weight training into your routine.

Weight lifting can be considered cardio training because it increases your heart rate, specially when using vertical training mixed with circuit training with little or no rest between sets and high repetitions (16 to 26 reps) and low resistance . Also the tempo is important, using a slow tempo (4/2/1) will engage more muscles (decelerators and stabilizers), burning more calories. Results depend on how you manipulate the training variables according to your specific goal.



Certainly, one can perform weight lifting and cardiovascular training simultaneously. For example, the old school exercise, Squat Thrust can be particularly challenging by adding dumbbells.

The squat thrust is a callisthenic exercise that works nearly every part of your body. Performed fast or slow, modified or full out, it's a killer.

To begin the squat thrust with a dumbbell, stand straight with dumbbells at your side, feet together. Squat down to the floor remaining on the balls of your feet, place dumbbells horizontally slightly in front, slightly outside of your feet.  

Explosively hop both feet back behind you. You'll be in the plank position, then explosively hop your feet back in, and stand up with dumbbells at our side.

To up the ante, you can add a push up from the plank position and hop back up to the starting position.  

Perform 2-3 sets of 15-20 reps of this exercise, and I guarantee you'll be crying for mercy and sweating bullets, too.

Of course it can! Any time you are raising your heart rate you will help build your endurance. When you incorporate any 2-3 exercises together you have a circuit routine. The type of exercises will be determined by your goal and expertise.

I love having my clients do a pushing exercise for upper body then a lower body movement like squats than maybe "active rest" like a plank. Recovery is dependent on the goal, ability and your heart rate.

Coming from an endurance sport background, it is difficult at times to admit this; but yes! If done in a circuit training format with the proper combination of sets, reps, and decreased rest in between, you can get a really sound cardio workout with weights. I often tell my runners that they either love what they do or they are somewhat crazy since, from a purely "lifetime wellness perspective" they could get a sound cardio work out and get all of the benefits of strength training in one simple workout without running.

Thank goodness they seldom listen to their coach!

Robert May

Yes, there are ways to incorporate your cardio training into your weight lifting program. Keeping your heart rate elevated by using a circuit style routine is an excellent way to do so. While engaging in the type of circuit, you must decrease the rest period between sets, allowing your heart rate to remain elevated throughout the entire routine.

The answer is YES!!! Weight lifting can be considered cardio training. When training clients, I like to incorporate strength and cardiovascular training as one exercise. For example, I will have a client perform 15 repetitions of squat jumps while holding a pair of 15 lb. dumbbells. Each time a client land and squats, they will perform a biceps curl and repeat the jump. This movement will be performed for the duration of the exercise.
It depends on the intensity with which you are lifting.  For example, if you are to perform supersets with little to no rest, you may experience a cardio effect; Kettlebell training is also a great example of a cardio effect in a weight lifting based modality of training.  Circuit training is also a great way to work in cardio and strength training together.  

Generically weight lifting is considered anaerobic, lack of aerobic. The truth is that cardio training is similar to weight lifting in that it must follow identical guidelines, i.e. the FITT principle. FITT stands for frequency, intensity, time, and type. Altering a weight lifting session's frequency (number of sessions at a given time), intensity (neuromuscular demand), time (length of session and intensity), and type (activity) in a session will affect the body's adaptations by increasing several physiological factors, such as stroke volume, cardiac output, and resting heart rate resulting in cardio.

On a side note, influencing intensity and duration under load and time will elicit a positive metabolic effect.  For example, strength training is short so it utilizes ATP; whereas, aerobic training is not short and utilizes glycolysis. When altering the simple factors listed above to totally tax the system, the body combines both energy systems. Moreover, a positive metabolic effect will help with weight loss.

The bottom line is that weight lifting can be considered cardio training.

Definitely, if the weight lifting routine is performed in the correct manner. Typically, cardio training is characterized by a prolonged increase in heart rate. With traditional weight lifting, a set is performed followed by a rest period before the next set. This rest period allows for muscle recovery but also allows for a decrease in heart rate. The best way to make weight lifting an impromptu cardio session is to nix the rest periods in between sets. This is typically referred to as circuit training. The circuit training works is by performing one set of each exercise in your workout (which should be about 5-7 exercises) back to back to back with minimal rest in between the sets. When you complete one full round of the ciruit you can take a short rest 30-90 seconds and then start back from the top. Depending on your weight lifting experience and the intensity of your exercises, you should complete 2 - 4 rounds of the circuit. If you have never done weight lifting using this method be sure to decrease your load (weight) on your exercises. You'll find that on your second and third round through, your body is pretty fatigued because the muscles haven't been given their typical rest periods. Circuit training is a great way to break up the monotony of working out and can be an awesome plateau buster! Be sure to order your exercises so that you are working the big muscle groups (and multi-joint) exercises first, followed by the smaller muscle groups (single joint exercises). Enjoy!
Yes. When you feel your heart throbbing, that is cardio training. A circuit based workout with little or no rest is fantastic for your cardiovascular system.

Recent studies have shown that various types of weight training like circuit training can improve aerobic fitness. To be aerobic in nature the weightlifting has to be intense enough and with a short enough rest period to keep the heart rate constantly elevated. Studies have shown that regular bouts of training like circuit training lower resting heart rate, increase VO2 max, and improve aerobic power despite not being traditional cardiovascular training. If you're pressed for time at the gym, and want to get the most bang for your buck, try a circuit training routine, you will improve your muscular strength and endurance, improve bone mineral density, and improve cardiovascular fitness.

If done with a focus on power and intensity, weight lifting can indeed induce a significant oxygen debt and cardio demand. In fact, I love adding a cardio component to my lifting programs!  Not only is it an effective use of time, but it keeps it interesting. If you're just beginning a fitness program, I suggest performing body weight exercises with speed - for example, in between weight training upper body, perform body weight squats at a fast, but controlled speed. When that becomes too easy, you can progress to plyometric training (adding a jump to the top portion of your squat), or adding weight to increase the resistance. You can use a similar (body weight) approach with other exercises like sit ups, push-ups and pull-ups as well. To introduce speed to other exercises, try using resistance tubing rather than free weights - this way you can perform biceps curls, chest presses, shoulder presses, and rows with speed. Just remember to only go as fast as you can while maintaining proper (safe) form. And have fun!

If you do it fast paced as in circuit training yes you can consider it cardio training as well. There is a class at my gym called Strength Endurance where you do weights, circuits all at a fast pace which gets your heart rate up and increases your endurance. It’s great.

Yes. Cardio is anything that increases respiration and heart rate levels over a period of time. Resistance training certainly gets the respiration and heart rate up!  Resistance training is typically not referred to as “cardio” because the repetitions only last a few seconds, and the rest intervals in between sets allow the heart rate to slow. To improve your cardiovascular and muscular system in a short amount of time, try circuit training. Circuit training is a series of resistance exercises performed one after another without any rest in between them. Studies have shown that circuit training can be just as effective as traditional forms of cardio exercises (treadmill, elliptical, etc.) , in improving fitness levels and burning calories. Circuit training also has a greater effect on improving EPOC and strength levels. 

Weight training may be considered cardio training if several exercises are performed consecutively in a "circuit" fashion, in other words if the exercises are performed one after the other with a moderate intensity and with little rest in between, the heart rate may be elevated and maintained at a high enough rate to provide cardiovascular benefits.
Circuit style strength training can definitely get your heart rate up. Move from one strengthening move to another with little to no rest in between, alternate between upper and lower body exercises.

Weight lifting is typically considered an anaerobic activity (think of anaerobic as "without oxygen") however, when incorporating weight training with minimal rest periods, more commonly known as circuit training, you can really get your heart rate up and receive a cardiovascular effect. This type of training is great for those who are short on time but high on intensity and calorie burn. 

Yes, especially if you are performing circuits while weight lifting.  Circuits are performed with little to no rest between exercises.  Rather than performing a number of sets of 1 exercise before moving on to the next, you perform what is called a vertical load (1 set of each exercise in your workout program for the day).  Any activity that increases your heart and breathing rates is considered cardio training.  Tabata inspired workouts are a great way to get in your resistance training and increase your heart rate at the same time.  In the Tabata inspired workout you perform the exercise for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds.  Repeat the cycle for 8 sets.
Andrea Metcalf
Strength training utilizing the bigger muscles group can increase heart rate and be considered cardio training. Boot camp classes combine cardio intervals and strength training moves to keep the intensity, calorie burn and heart rate optimal to get the most out of your sixty minute workouts. Other great strength workouts like TABATA utilize basic strength moves in 20 second intervals with 10 second rest periods to keep the heart rate high and benefit the cardiovascular system.
Typically strength training is an anarobic activity, although there is a type of training that would be considered aerobic and that is doing a circuit training program with minimal rest so that you can keep your heart rate elevated and have the benefit of both strengthening and toning up the muscles and increase fat burning and cardiovascular conditioning.

"Cardio training" is really just a blanket term for getting your heart rate up FROM REST. Basically, if you're not sitting or lying down, you're "cardio training". If you are lifting heavy weights with less than 10 repetitions and resting more than 30 seconds in between you would be doing a form of training called, anaerobic training. Lighten your load and take the rest down to 20-30 seconds and you have circuit training which is a very good form of "cardio training". To bring your heart rate up even higher you can add one minute of jumping jacks or jumping rope as well as a number of other exercises in between your weight lifting sets. This is interval training and is one of the most effective and efficient forms of "cardio exercise".

Without a doubt. Anything which elevates your heart rate and causes your body to function at an above average capacity can be considered cardio training. For best results consider a circuit routine which moves from exercise to exercise without a lot of rest between sets.  

Can weight lifting be considered cardio training? Absolutely. As long as you get the heart pumping. My favorite way to get a little cardio while increasing strength and power at the same time is, Dynamic and or Plyometrics workouts. Plyometric exercises are specialized, high intensity training techniques used to develop athletic power (strength and speed). Doing high intensity strength training, circuit training and Plyometrics is a great way to improve your physical endurance, strength and cardiovascular levels. Before starting theses program you she have an assessment done by a Fitness Professional/ Certified Trainer or a physical by a doctor. This way you can avoid injury from not using proper techniques or trying things your body may not be ready for.

Certain styles of organizing (programming) your workout, called Circuit Training, can help to increase your aerobic heart rate. Circuit training is accomplished by performing one set of a core, balance, plyometric, or resistance exercise in your routine and then alternating to the next exercise with little or no rest between. In this fashion, you can string together exercise chains of three or more exercises without taking a lot of rest.

Circuit training may deliver the same aerobic benefits as Interval Training with cardiorespiratory exercise. The purpose is to perform your strength training workout without rest or little rest in order to keep your body moving and to keep your exercise heart rate up. In this way, a lifting routine performed in a circuit can be considered cardio training.

I would recommend starting with choosing 3 to 6 exercises of any core, balance, plyometric, or resistance training type to be in the circuit. Start with 2 sets of each exercise for 12 to 20 repetitions performed with a light to moderate resistance. If you are a beginner to circuit training, these variables will allow you to get used to the circuit training format's increased aerobic demand with minimal risk of overtraining. However, it will also give you enough exercise volume to work your whole body and hopefully burn more calories.

Circuit training is a useful training tool for any client who is looking for weight loss, decreased body fat composition, or just looking to switch things up once in a while.

NOTE: Please consult with your primary care physician prior to starting a new exercise routine. Also, if this is your first time exercising, consider the benefits of consulting with a Fitness Coach to help you determine the correct exercise program to start with.

Yes!  If you do your weight lifting in a circuit fashion with little or no rest between exercises, you will elevate your heart rate.  I like using circuit training for myself and my clients, as it adds in some cardio, while doing resistance training.  Since most folks these days are trying to lose some weight, additional calorie burning is always welcome.
You can make weight lifting a cardio-type exercise by decreasing the amount of time you rest between sets. You can also super-set exercises (doing two exercises back-to-back with no rest). These two types of weight lifting can turn your resistance workout into a cardio workout as well because you will be keeping your heart rate elevated throughout the routine.
Yes, any activity can be considered cardio training if it is done properly and puts stress on the cardiorespiratory system. Weight training performed as a series of exercises with minimal rest in between is a very effective form of cardiorespiratory training. It is commonly known as circuit training, and can be a great time saving workout.

Yes, weight lifting at a fast pace with little rest between sets is an effective cardio training tool. In addition to the extra cardio conditioning, you will increase your endurance and calories consumption. Be sure to maintain proper control of your weights and posture during your workout.

Yes, weightlifting can be considered cardio training. A weightlifting program can be designed to elicit the proper response to increase your heart rate and enhance your cardiopulmonary system. It is important that the program is built to you the individual. The program should take into account your heart rate training zone parameters, your structural thresholds, and your goals. The variables of the program can be designed to match you. Variables such as exercise selection, rest to work ratio, load, speed, and total duration can be tweaked to fit you.
Brian Waldo

Weight lifting can certainly be considered cardiovascular if done in a circuit fashion. This is were you have 3-5 exercises or more set up for different body regions and you rotate from one to the next.  You rotate on a rep count or timed interval of some sort. Generally, you should be tracking your heart rate and being sure that your rest periods or transition times to not allow your heart rate to fall below the targeted training range. This heart rate range may have been set for yourself or that your trainer has set for you. So, keeping moving is the focal point. Remember you must be moving continually for 3 minutes or more to considered cardiovascular exercise.

As long as your heart rate and breathing rate are being raised during your weight lifting, then it is considered cardiovascular training as well. Circuit training is a great example of how weight lifting and cardio training can be combined into one workout. Simply reduce your rest time in between sets or perform your exercises in a series, one after the other with no rest at all.

Wendy Batts
Absolutely! Cardio training is anything that makes the heart and lungs work harder. Weight training definitely taxes your cardiorespiratory system. Remember, you’re breathing a little harder after a set of resistance training exercises after all. To increase the cardio-like feel of your weight training, minimize the rest in between sets of exercises or perform exercises one after another in a circuit.
Dr. Mike Clark, DPT

Yes, definitely! The heart’s job is to pump oxygen, nutrients, and energy to our working muscles via the blood, regardless of the type of activity. With that said any activity that increases your breathing rate and requires the heart to pump and circulate more blood, such as weight lifting, will provide benefits similar to those from cardio training. To maximize your body’s cardio fitness resulting from weight lifting, make sure to vary your routine by continually changing how many exercises you do, the intensity at which you do them, and the amount of rest you take between sets and/or rounds of exercises. 

Picture of weight training

Yes, if you do circuit type training. This type of workout cycles multiple stations, moving quickly from on exercise to the next. Mix your stations with strength exercises and cardiovascular exercises.  Perform these series of exercises with little to no rest.  

Absolutely! Circuit training is actually one of the most beneficial forms of cardiorespiratory training - and one of my personal favorites. Any form of training that increases your heart rate and breathing rate can be used as a form of cardio training. Circuit training involves performing a series of resistance training exercises one after the other with little to no rest between exercises. This type of training has been shown to be just as beneficial as traditional forms of cardio training for improving, or contributing to improved fitness levels.

Yes, any activity that increases your heart and breathing rates is considered cardio training particularly performing resistance training in a circuit style fashion, (little to no rest between exercises). Elevated heart and breathing rates improves the function of the cardiorespiratory system (heart and lungs). When this occurs, more oxygen is carried to working muscles. In addition, the heart becomes stronger and is able to pump out more blood with each beat. For maximum cardiovascular benefits combining strength training with other forms of aerobic exercise such as walking, running, swimming, or aerobics/dance.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.