The key to creating a muscle building cardio workout is finding the right amount of weight to build muscle while working out for 30 minutes or more at a high intensity. You will need to exercise at 70% to 80% of your maximum heart rate and keep it there if you wish to create an effective cardio workout. You may decrease muscular resistance and work at a very fast pace, or you can increase resistance and work harder. The latter method helps build muscle but may fatigue you quickly if you use too much weight.
For aerobic exercise, you need to calculate for the range of your target heart rate. If you are male, subtract your age from 220 multiply by .70 or .80 to get your heart rate range. If you are female get 88% of your age from 206 to get your maximum heart rate for a cardio work out and multiply by .70 and .80.
Experiment with dumbbells, resistance bands, kettlebells, barbells, exercise machines, home gyms or weight machines and other equipment that takes effort to lift or resist. The resistance, incline or stride length must be adjusted on the treadmills or ellipticals, to determine which settings allow you to maintain a 30-minute workout.
To work out in your cardio heart range for 30 minutes or longer, write down the different weights, settings or number of wraps of resistance bands. This will let you train without stopping to experiment on unfamiliar settings or equipment.
Warm up for several minutes to begin exercising. Use little or no weights to do this. Raise your heart rate by using arm and leg movements like jogging in place or jumping jacks. This will help create better muscle contractions during your workouts.
Once you have warmed up, exercise at your aerobic heart rate. Program peaks and valleys that will give easier recovery periods every five minutes to prevent fatigue when using the machines to exercise. This can be achieved by decreasing resistance or incline on the machine. Body-weight exercises, such as push-ups, squats, pull-ups, chair dips and crunches dips should be done with breaks for only one-minute to keep your heart rate in your cardio zone.
Using proper technique, perform resistance band or weight exercises which include lowering weights with your muscles, not letting gravity drop the weights and pausing in the middle of each rep. This will help build more muscle by requiring more muscle stress.
Stretch all muscles you used during the workout. Perform your cool down with your warm up exercises at a pace that lets you lower your heart rate. This will improve flexibility, help with post-workout recovery and prevent soreness.