There are a million reasons why at-home cardio workouts are superior to almost every other exercise option available. For starters, they’re free. Plus, there’s no weather to dissuade you, no spandex-covered gym rats to make you feel out of place, and no one to judge if you have to take a break and lay on the floor for 10 minutes. While most people are familiar with how to replace weight lifting with at-home bodyweight exercises, many assume that cardio has to be done outdoors or on an expensive machine. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.
Whether you have five minutes or two hours, there are plenty of cardio combinations that will amp up your heart rate and leave you toned and tightened. Clear out a yoga mat sized space, put on your gym shorts (or don’t), and get to work with these five killer cardio workouts.
1. High knees and climbers
This exercise is one in a series of exercises designed to kick your cardio into high gear. Start by standing and perform the first set of high knees — one on each side. Bring your knees up high as you emulate running in place. Quickly move to a push-up position on the floor and perform one mountain climber on each leg. Do this by bringing one knee to your chest at a time. Jump back up to standing. You’ve completed one rep. Repeat these two exercises five times each to complete one set before allowing your body to rest for up to two minutes. Then, repeat this entire series six times for beginners, eight for intermediates, and 10 times for you cardio pros.
You probably knew burpees were going to make an appearance somewhere in this list. They may be tough, but they work. To start, stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and bend both knees, swinging your arms back as you leap as high into the air as possible. Land with your knees bent and place both hands on the floor. Jump your legs back so that you end up in a plank position and drop down into a push-up. Return to plank and jump with both feet back between your hands and return to standing. Immediately repeat. Do as many reps as possible for one minute.
3. Jumping jacks, push-ups, and climbers
Start this series of three cardio blasting exercises with a simple jumping jack. Do one jumping jack, then quickly do one push-up before using the plank position to perform one mountain climber on each leg. Jump back to standing and repeat this series for a total of eight rounds. One set should take 20 seconds and you can rest for 10 seconds between reps, but try to limit resting time to get in a good heart-thumping workout.
4. Jumps and tap backs
This series of exercises requires you to jump up in the air, so make sure you have high enough ceilings in your workout space. Start with your feet hip width apart and knees bent. Place your hands on your thighs and prepare for two sets of rocket jumps. Jump as high as you can, pushing your hands straight above your head and extending your entire body. Land softly and repeat for 15 to 24 reps and two total sets. Next, perform two sets of 15 to 24 reps of star jumps. Start in the same position, but when you jump, shoot your legs and arms into a star shape in the air before landing softly into the starting position. Finally, complete the same number of reps and sets of tap backs. Start in standing and step your right leg back and swing both arms forward and repeat with the opposite leg. Do this as a continuous, rhythmic movement while keeping your hips and shoulders facing forwards.
If you like to keep it simple, take advantage of the one month DAREBEE squat challenge which starts by requiring you to perform 100 squats by the end of the day and ends with you performing 600 squats in a day. To avoid injury and get the full benefits of the exercise, make sure your form is perfect.
Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart and engage your abdominal muscles. Pull your shoulder blades towards each other to open and expand your chest. Bend your knees and push your butt and hips out and down as if you were sitting in a chair. Check to make sure your head and shoulders are aligned over your knees and your knees are aligned over your ankles. When in squat, you’ll want to have your thighs parallel to the ground as your knees rotate out. Straighten your legs to release and return to standing.