10 Extremely Effective Fat-Burning Cardio Exercises You Can Do Anywhere

For a lot of people, pounding it out on the treadmill is the best way to get a seriously tough workout. Unfortunately, hitting the gym isn’t always an option, and few people have a deluxe gym complete with cardio machines at home. In these instances, you need reliable workouts you can do whenever, wherever.

Fortunately, there are quite a few of these workouts to choose from. They are all cardio-focused, with a bit of resistance training mixed in. The result is an extremely effective cardio workout you can do without a gym membership. We’re highlighting 10 of our favorite fat-burning cardio exercises you can do at home, in a hotel room, or anywhere else.

1. Running stairs

woman running up on mountain stairs

You can run stairs at work or in your apartment building. | iStock.com/lzf

Though loads of people run for fitness, few of them think to take it to the stairs. It seems like a small change, but it has a huge impact on the intensity of your workout. According to Livestrong, a 160-pound person can blast nearly 300 calories in just 10 minutes of running stairs.

On a practical level, this exercise can be helpful for avoiding injury. Runner’s World explains the exact motion works your muscles differently than running on flat ground, which can strengthen areas that often get neglected.

2. Burpees

Young Man Doing Planking Exercise

Burpees will have you break out into a sweat in no time. | iStock.com

No cardio compilation would be complete without burpees. They challenge every part of your body and send your heart rate soaring in no time. All this adds up to an exercise that, according to PopSugar, burns about 10 calories per minute. This is assuming you’re doing between 10 and 20 repetitions every minute, so you can torch even more by upping the pace. Just make sure you don’t let your form suffer.

If you need a primer on burpees, check out this tutorial from Greatist. You can even try some variations to work different muscles and make your routine more interesting.

3. Jump rope double-unders

Double-unders are seriously tough

Double-unders are seriously tough. | iStock.com

We’ve praised the benefits of jumping rope before, so it’s no surprise there’s a variation of the basic exercise on this list. Double-unders are particularly effective because you have to complete two full rope rotations between every jump, which means your body has to work even harder. Chron reports just 10 minutes of double-unders can burn 150 calories for a 150-pound person. That being said, the story also says it’ll likely take some time before you’re conditioned enough to last for more than a few minutes.

4. Jump lunges

Woman doing lunges in a gym

Jump lunges are a great alternative to regular lunges. | iStock.com

If you thought basic lunges were hard, you’ve never tried jump lunges before. This plyometric exercise strengthens all the same muscles, but it’ll also get your heart pounding in no time. To get started, simply lunge forward on your left leg as you bring your right arm forward and left arm back, elbows bent at 90-degree angles. From the lunge, jump straight into the air as you switch your arm and leg positions, then land with the opposite arm and leg in front. Health says you’ll burn about 12 calories per minute, so you can really get a good workout in a tiny amount of time.

5. Mountain climbers

woman doing mountain climber exercises

Mountain climbers are tough for almost anybody. | iStock.com

Good news: Mountain climbers might win the award for most travel-friendly exercise because they require no equipment and take up hardly any space. On the flip side, they also deserve some recognition for being super challenging. Gold’s Gym says a 150-pound person can expect to burn around 30 calories after three sets of 40 repetitions. You can easily incorporate any of these other moves to create a full workout, or simply go for as many sets as you can.

6. Jump squats

man performing bodyweight squats on a track

Jump squats can torch a ton of calories. | iStock.com

Like with jump lunges, jump squats add a cardio element to a basic strengthening move. You’ll perform a bodyweight squat with your arms straight out in front of you or bent with your hands behind your ears. At the bottom of the squat, jump as high as you can, land with your knees slightly bent, then immediately sink into your next squat. Muscle & Fitness can show you how.

7. Speed skater lunge

man doing side lunges outdoors

Speed skater lunges will seriously sculpt your legs. | iStock.com

We have praised the speed skater lunge before, and for very good reason. This exercise is as intense as it sounds — and it’s better cardio than you think. According to The Denver Post, the speed skater lunge is “an excellent fat burner and booster for the metabolism” in addition to working “the gluteal muscles, legs, and postural assisters in a way that very few exercises can.” Need a quick tutorial on how to get your Apollo Anton Ohno on? We keep this YouTube video in our back pocket for outlining the proper form.

8. Crab plank

young beautiful woman in sportswear doing plank

You’ll really feel your core working with this one. | iStock.com/g-stockstudio

Like many other exercises on this list, no workout routine is complete without a couple planks in the mix. And while the plank on its own doesn’t sound like legit cardio, add some movement to this core-boosting exercise and you have a workout staple you can use just about anywhere. You’ll need enough room to hold a plank position and be able to walk yourself to one side with your hands and feet, like this YouTube video demonstrates. Muscle & Fitness explains the benefits that come from doing a plank are intensified when adding the side-to-side crab-walking movement to it.

9. Bicycle crunches

woman exercising and doing crunches

Bicycle crunches really do work. | iStock.com

Crunches are a very misunderstood exercise in that they are very easy to get wrong. But when done properly, and with the amount of movement that a bicycle crunch requires, you can burn some serious calories. Now, Livestrong is very clear in explaining that just strictly doing bicycle crunches won’t result in weight loss. On the plus side, they say bicycle crunches are “one of the most effective exercises for strengthening your ab muscles.” Mixing 10 to 12 reps with one of the other space-friendly exercises on this list will help you achieve a good cardio workout — no matter where you are.

10. Jumping jacks

people doing jumping jacks

Jumping jacks will get your blood moving. | iStock.com/leaf

That’s right. This old-school warm-up is an effective form of cardio. “The primary benefit from doing jumping jacks is that it elevates your heart rate,” Livestrong teaches us. “You breathe more deeply while jumping, which delivers oxygen to your bloodstream and ultimately to your muscles.” In addition, you will also “burn fat at a rapid rate, promoting weight loss.” Men’s Health recommends this pyramid workout: Do as many jumping jacks as possible for 10 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, then repeat the same routine for 20 seconds and 30 seconds.