Try These Bodyweight Exercises That Double as Cardio

You know what cardio is and you’ve probably heard about bodyweight exercises (hello planks and push-ups), but have you ever thought to combine the two? Cardio-based bodyweight exercises create a killer workout that can be done with minimal floor space and require no props, weights, or machines. Say goodbye to that expensive gym membership and your list of reasons for blowing off your daily workout. These are some of the best bodyweight exercises you can do anywhere.

Stuck in your office? At a hotel with no gym? Regardless of your situation, these exercises will get your heart rate up, force you to break a sweat, and build strength.

1. Jumping jacks

Group of people doing jumping jacks

Jumping jacks will get your blood pumping. | iStock.com

You probably remember jumping jacks from being a kid in gym class. Stick with the standard version, or try some cross jacks. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and extend your arms straight out to either side with palms facing down. Jump and cross your right arm over your left while bringing your right foot over your left foot. Jump back to the starting position and then cross with the opposite arm and foot.

2. Mountain climbers

Fit woman about to do mountain climbers

Mountain climbers work your whole body. | iStock.com/undrey

Want an exercise that will rock your legs and core while getting your heart rate sky high? Mountain climbers are the answer. Start in a push-up position and jump one leg forward so the ball of your foot lands below your stomach with your knee bent. Then, as you bring it back to the starting position, bring the other leg forward. Try to ensure both feet land at the same time. Do this as quickly as possible until your abs and legs are burning.

3. Stair climb

Muscular man running up stairs

Stair climbing is great for building leg muscles and getting a killer cardio workout. | iStock.com

If you live in an apartment building, are at a hotel, or even have a few minutes before work, take advantage of the free cardio equipment: the stairs. To start, briskly walk up a stairway trying to set a doable, but challenging number of levels before you turn around and head back down. To up the intensity, jog or run up the stairs, giving your body a break as you turn around and head back down. Climbing stairs is an easy and effective way to get your heart rate up and strengthen your core and legs.

4. Tuck jump

Fit young woman box jumping at a gym

Tuck jumps are tough, but worth it. | iStock.com/Ammentorp Photography

Have limited space? This exercise requires only a few feet of open floor and is guaranteed to get your heart pumping. Stand up tall with the knees slightly bent and jump up bringing the knees into the chest. As you do this, extend your arms straight out in front of the body. Lower your arms when you hit the floor. Aim for three sets of eight to 10 reps. Be mindful of noise sensitive neighbors below you by making a point to land on the floor as gracefully as possible.

5. Burpee

Burpees are a classic

Burpees are a classic move for a reason. | Shironosov/iStock/Getty Images

You may have been hoping this killer workout wouldn’t make the list, but where would we be without the classic burpee? This exercise is squat heavy, so it uses a lot of muscle mass causing your heart rate to increase quickly. Standing with your feet hips-width distance apart, sit down deeply into the squat position and place your hands on the floor. Next jump both feet back and then forwards, standing up and pushing the hips forwards with your butt squeezed tight. Want more intensity? Add a jump at the top and push-ups at the bottom to up the ante.

6. High knees

Man jumping on the beach

You can do this exercise anywhere. | iStock.com

One of the easiest ways to break a sweat is the high knees exercise. Stand tall with your feet hip-distance apart. Lift up one knee as high as it will go and then place it back down. Alternate legs and pick up the pace, pushing yourself to go as fast as possible. Set a timer and aim to go full speed for 30 seconds straight. This exercise sounds deceptively easy, but it will give you high-impact cardio results in minimal time.

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