Regardless of what your exercise preference is—whether you love yoga or prefer to sweat it out with weights—cardiovascular exercise is a vital part of every routine.
The truth is, it would be hard to find any coach or trainer who wouldn’t tell you to make it a priority. If you’re a fan of at-home fitness, or pushed to it because of COVID-19, it can be difficult to find techniques to fit it in. Because most of us assume that “cardio” is synonymous with logging miles on a treadmill or even a bike.
Because most of us assume that “cardio” is synonymous with logging miles on a treadmill or even a bike.
But contrary to popular belief, at-home cardiovascular exercise can get your heart rate pumping to max capacity without ever needing to leave your living room—or put on pants.
Cardiovascular exercise is absolutely essential in your routine.
To begin with, you’re going to want to discover why cardiovascular exercise should be a component of your daily life. Similar to how you prioritize brushing your teeth and washing your face for the benefit of a healthy mouth and well-functioning skin, it is a good idea to make time to get your blood pumping for the benefit of a healthy heart.
Cardio is by definition exercise of the heart, it’s especially important because it really helps to circulate blood throughout our bodies. Our heart, as we all well understand, is basically what keeps us alive (thanks, heart!), and carries nutrients throughout our bodies and brings oxygen to our tissue.
Cardio is by definition exercise of the heart, it’s especially important because it really helps to circulate blood throughout our bodies.
Not only is an effective cardio workout getting your heart pumping at the time, but it also has further-reaching benefits that can definitely help you as time goes on .
Your heart must work harder and faster during cardio exercise, and in short, a stronger, healthier heart will boost stamina and endurance with tons of longterm benefits, including reducing anxiety, enhancing your mood through endorphins, and assisting with sleep.
So pretty much, no matter what you’re doing on the reg, you’re definitely going to want to include some element of cardiovascular exercise into the mix for the sake of your body along with your mind.
No, you don’t need fancy equipment in order to get it done. While many of us think of cardiovascular exercise as one of those things that requires a lot of space or some fancy equipment (like the elliptical or stair master) in order to get done, that’s not truly the case.
The reality is, you can obtain a highly effective cardio workout with nothing more than your own two feet.
Here we share a comprehensive guide to at-home cardio moves that require zero equipment—except maybe a towel because you’ll definitely be sweating.
How to use this list – Build your own workout
- Pick three or four moves from the list below and add them to any workout.
- Perform the moves between strength training exercises, as active rest, or before a run or any other cardiovascular exercise routine.
- Perform each exercise for 30–60 seconds and complete 2–3 rounds.
1. Jumping jacks
An oldie, but a goodie! You’ve likely been doing these since elementary school therefore you probably know the drill, however as a quick refresher: Stand with your feet together and your hands by your side, and jump your feet out while reaching your arms overhead. Then jump everything back to the start and repeat. If you want a lower-impact version of the move, step your feet in and out instead of jumping.
Most people have a love/hate relationship with burpees, but no one can dispute that they’re an a simple yet effective way to get a an explosion of cardio and strength training in one fell swoop. Start standing, then place your hands on the ground in front of your feet. Jump your feet back so that you land in plank position, then jump your feet back up toward your hands. Explode up into the air with a jump, and repeat.
3. High knees
There’s a reason why this move has likely been haunting you since middle school gym class. Yes, it’s annoying . And yes, it certainly will get your heart pumping. Standing with your feet under your hips, push off of your toes and bring one knee to your chest. Then, switch legs, picking up speed your speed to a sprint.
4. Mountain climbers
Think of this move as high knees, but on the floor. In a high plank position with your core tight (squeeze!) bring one knee into your chest and switch to the other as fast as possible.
5. Scissor jumps
Stand with your feet somewhat wider than your hips and squat with your hips down and chest raised. Jump off the ground, bringing your legs together with one foot crossed in front—or “scissored)”—and arrive back in squat stance. Repeat, rotating which foot you’ve got crossing in the front.
6. Jack-to-tuck jumps:
Begin standing with your feet below your hips. Jump your feet out to wider stance, and swing your arms out to the side and up above your head jumping jack style. Then, jump your feet back in and jump straight up, pushing both of your knees to your chest. That’s one rep.
7. Broad jump
Stand with your feet beneath your hips and get into a squat with your arms behind you. Then, spread your knees and your hips while concurrently driving your arms forward while jumping forward. Land in a squat, then turn around and repeat. That’s one rep.
8. Hop over burpee
Think of this one as a burpee with a twist. Stand on one side of a towel (pro tip: towels are the most useful piece of fitness equipment you’ve already got at your house), and sit back into a little squat. Use your glutes and legs to jump up over the towel, arriving in a squat. Bring your hands to the floor, then jump your feet back into a plank, then explode back into a squat position. Repeat.
9. Punching bag
This move will work your arms and your heart at the simultaneously. Imaging you’ve got a punching bag in front of you slightly bend your knees into a relaxed sumo squat position. Curl your fingers into fists and punch out in front of you for 20 to 30 seconds.
10. Plank crawlers
You will find approximately a zillion different plank iterations these days, but this is among the hardest. Start in a forearm plank position, and one at a time push up from your elbows onto your hands. Then, go back down, and repeat for 20 to 30 seconds alternating arms. Engage your core to keep from rocking side to side as you switch arms.
11. Knee pulls
These are generally like high knees, but without producing the whole “sprinting” component. Raise your arms into the air, and as you pull them down, lift one knee into your chest. Repeat on the reverse side. While you alternate, it without a doubt will feel like a slight hop from one leg to another. If you would like something slightly lower impact (which still totally counts!), move slightly slower and forget the hop. Repeat for 20 to 30 seconds.
You’ll probably recognize this move from high school football practice—or at the very least, movies about high school football practice. Channel a linebacker, and remain on your toes while shuffling yourself as rapidly as you can comfortably, which will help you build agility and endurance. Repeat for 20-30 seconds.
13. Jump, jump, squat
This particular one, it’s all in the name. Beginning with two jumps in place (you can use your arms in order to help pump you up), and land in a squat. As usual, sustain a slight bend in those knees, adding that this move is a great deal of fun to time with the music of your favorite pump-up song. Repeat 8 to 10 times.
14. Knockout punches
Another boxer inspired move, because clearly these kinds of fighters have the ability to get their hearts pumping. Find your relaxed sumo squat, and punch twice to the left with the right arm and twice towards the right with the right arm. Repeat for 20 to 30 seconds, and find the beat with the music and knock ’em dead.
15. Front kicks
These tend to be similar to “knee pulls,” but instead of lifting your knee up, kick your leg ahead of you, alternating feet If you’re really feeling funky, include some arm movements into the mix, and repeat for 20 to 30 seconds.
16. Jump Rope
It’s a wonderful cardiovascular exercise, burning about 220 calories in 20 minutes. Jump ropes are inexpensive, travel well, require no special skills, and could be used anywhere you have got space.
17. Bear Crawls
They get the heart beating rate way up while building endurance and strength. Squatting towards the floor, walking the hands out to perform push-up, walking the hands back. and standing up…just like a bear. Incorporate 30-60 seconds of bear crawls into your at home cardio workout or in conjuction with a cardio circuit with other exercises which can include marching, jogging, jumping rope, burpees, etc.
18. Butt kicks
Butt kicks are considered the opposite of high knees. Versus lifting your knees up high, you’ll lift your heels up toward your butt. Stand with your legs together and arms at your sides. Bring one heel toward your butt. Drop your foot and repeat using the other heel. Continue alternating your heels and pumping your arms
19. Crab walk
Doing the crab walk is typically a fun method of getting your blood flowing. Additionally it strengthens your upper arms while working your back, core, and legs. Take a seat on the ground, knees bent and feet flat. Place your hands on the ground beneath your shoulders, fingers pointing forward. Lift your hips from the floor. “Walk” backward by just using your legs and arms, keeping your weight evenly distributed between your legs and arms. Continue walking backward for the desired distance.
20. Plank Jacks
This exercise is similar to a horizontal jumping jack. It forces your arms to support your weight while you quickly move your legs. Start in a plank with your hands under shoulders along with your body straight. Bring your feet together. Jump and spread your legs wider than shoulder-width. Jump returning to a plank and repeat.
21. Power skip
Stand with your hip-width apart and core tight. Raise right knee while you bring left arm forward and hop off left foot. Land on the ball of your left foot, then immediately bring right foot down and repeat on the reverse side. Concentrate on height, not speed.
22. Diver’s push-up
If you’ve done yoga, you’ll recognize this as like a Chaturanga Pose except a little faster. Start in a Downward-Facing Dog with hands on the ground, hips high, and feet upon the floor so you form a triangle. In a fluid motion, dive your head toward the floor, coming into a low push-up position, and after that swoop chest forward and then upwards so that you end in an Upward-Facing Dog position. After that, push hips up to go back to the starting position.
23. Invisible jump rope
Hop over an invisible rope (no requirement to jump more than 1 or 2 inches from the floor) by remaining on your toes and pushing off with the balls of your feet. Make quick, small movements with your wrists, almost like you’re holding a rope
24. Flutter kick
Lie faceup on your back with navel pulled toward the spine. You could possibly slide both hands below the curve of your low back for added support. By just using your core, lift both your feet 3–4 inches from the floor and kick feet up and down several inches, keeping core engaged throughout. If you feel any discomfort within your low back, skip this exercise.
25. Wide mountain climbers
Start in a high plank position with core tight. Bring right foot forward to the outside of right hand so you’re in a low lunge position. Jump and switch feet in midair so that you land with the left foot to the outside of your left hand and your right foot straight back. Go on to alternate as fast as you can. Make it easier and simpler: Skip the hop. Instead, step right foot back, then quickly step left foot forward.
Rollbacks coordination and mobility in addition to strengthening your core. Start in standing position. In a single motion, sit down onto floor and roll back, driving hips and heels up in the direction of the ceiling. Rollback to return feet towards the ground and come to stand. That’s one rep.
27. Burpee 180 Jump
This happens to be the ultimate total-body exercise: You’ll work your shoulders, chest, quadriceps, gluteus muscles, and hamstrings. Plus, the transition in direction will improve coordination and spatial awareness. Start in a squat posture, feet shoulder-width apart. Drop hips down placing palms on the floor. Jump back into a low plank and lower yourself directly to the ground. Peel your whole body up and reverse the movement, landing back in a squat. Hop around so that your facing the other way. Then repeat a burpee the opposite side. That’s one rep.
28. Lateral Toe Taps
This is a wonderful speed drill that’s effective on hip activation in a single-leg stance. Additionally it works your balance and stability. Set a ball, cup, towel, or some kind of target between your feet. Start with your right foot on top of the target, keeping your weight within your left foot. Quickly switch feet so that your left foot is on the target. That’s one rep. Continue alternating feet while lightly tapping your toes upon the target.
29. Sit Outs
This is basically a dynamic movement that improves your core, shoulders, quadriceps, and glutes, plus your mobility and coordination. It even improves cognitive function since it requires learning new motor patterns. Start in a table-top position, knees hovering slightly from the floor, shoulders over wrists, knees under hips. Kick one leg forward across the body, threading it below the other leg and lifting your opposite arm while you drop your hip to the floor. Kick heel back to return to start, then do the same thing on the opposite side. That’s one rep.
30. Overhead Walking Lunges
This move involves almost every muscle, however, it especially strengthens the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. And it also builds stability within the shoulder girdle, while increasing core stability and strength. Hold a towel with both of your hands directly overhead, arms straight. Keeping your shoulders externally rotated (elbows facing away from ears) to support your back, step your left foot forward and bend both knees into a lunge. Press through your left heel to stand and step your right foot forward, lowering into a lunge. That’s one rep.
31. Beast Shoulder Taps
Start in a table-top position, knees hovering slightly from the floor. Keeping weight even between the upper body and lower body, lift one hand from the floor to touch the alternative shoulder. Go back to center, then repeat on the reverse side. Shifting your weight like this core stability and strengthens your shoulders and quads.
How to get the most out of your workout
Follow these suggestions to reap the benefits of cardiovascular exercise without getting hurt.
Warm up. Start each session with a 5- to 10-minute warmup. This will certainly boost your blood flow and relax your muscles, lowering your chance of injury.
Cool down. Instead of abruptly stopping your workout, slow down during the last 5 to 10 minutes.
Invite a friend. Exercise is definitely more exciting with a workout buddy.
Aim for 150 minutes. During the week, aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity. You’ll be able to spread this out eventually by performing 30-minute sessions five days a week.