Forget The Treadmill—All You Need Is One Dumbbell And Two Moves To Improve Your Cardio Fitness

Man holding dumbbell above his head
(Image credit: Aleksandar Jankovic / Getty Images)

If you wouldn’t be seen dead near a cardio machine, then you may want to try adding conditioning workouts into your routine to help your cardio fitness keep pace with your strength.

The EMOM format is a great way to structure a conditioning workout. EMOM stands for every minute on the minute and in this type of workout you have one minute to complete a set amount of work, then you rest for the remainder of the minute. That sequence is repeated over a set period.

In the case of the session PT Liam Fletcher recently posted on Instagram, the EMOM lasts 20 minutes and you have to complete six alternating dumbbell snatches and three burpees over dumbbell every minute. 

Watch Fletcher's Instagram Reel where he demonstrates the two moves.

While 20-minute workouts are normally in the “short” category, this is a hard workout that will feel long because the volume of work adds up and each round feels harder. When that happens you’re faced with a difficult choice: “You either move through the reps faster so you can rest for longer, or if you move slowly, you’ll have less rest,” says Fletcher.

A steady pace from the start is the smartest way to approach an EMOM. “Ideally, you want to find a consistent pace, so choose your weight wisely,” says Fletcher. “If it’s too easy you can increase the weight in the next round.”

If you’re unfamiliar with the dumbbell snatch, it’s also worth starting with a light weight until you’re confident with your form to avoid injury.

"To do the snatch, stand over the dumbbell with your feet shoulder-distance apart," says Fletcher. “Distribute your weight evenly through your feet. Keeping your core engaged throughout, hinge at your hips while keeping your and back straight, then lift the dumbbell off the floor. Drop quickly under the weight into a quarter squat, keeping your elbow high throughout the movement.”

For more guidance, read Coach’s dumbbell snatch form guide.

For help choosing the right dumbbell for you, read Coach’s guide to the best dumbbells.

Alice Porter

Alice Porter is a journalist who covers health, fitness and wellbeing, among other topics, for titles including Stylist, Fit & Well, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Grazia, VICE and Refinery29. When she’s not writing about these topics, you can probably find her at her local CrossFit box.