Doing a quick cardio workout at home is more accessible than you might think. It is efficient, offers convenience, and you may even save money. Luckily, a good cardio workout doesn’t have to require a ton of space or fancy equipment.
With a little creativity, you can put together a fitness routine that includes a wide range of effective cardio exercises to build muscle, burn calories, and feel better. Below are some home cardio exercises you can do anytime, anywhere.
Watch Now: 4 Cardio Moves You Can Do In Your Living Room
What: Turning a rope with handles repeatedly while jumping over it and (optional) chanting rhymes
Why: It’s great cardio, burning about 220 calories in 20 minutes. Jump ropes are inexpensive, travel well, require no special skills, and can be used anywhere you have space.
Requirements: A jump rope, a good pair of shoes, patience, and practice
Precautions: Jumping rope is high impact and requires practice. It looks easy, but beginners may get tripped up. For the best results, turn the rope with the wrists, not the arms, and land softly. Only jump high enough to clear the rope.
Variations: Jumping on one foot, alternating feet, crossing the feet, jumping with high knees, double turning the rope
Best Ways to Use Jumping Rope in a Workout
- In a Beginner Circuit: Alternate 10-30 seconds of jumping with marching in place for 5-10 circuits. Gradually work up to longer jumping sessions.
- In a Cardio Circuit: Alternate 30-60 seconds of jumping with other cardio exercises such as marching, jogging, jumping jacks, etc.
- In a Cardio/Strength Circuit: Alternate 30-60 seconds of jumping with strength exercises, such as squats, lunges, push-ups, and dips.
What: Repeatedly jumping the feet wide while circling the arms overhead, then back again
Why: Jumping jacks burn about 100 calories in 10 minutes and no special equipment or skills are needed.
Requirements: A good pair of shoes, a healthy heart
Precautions: Jumping jacks are high impact, which may tax the joints. They may also remind you of elementary or high school gym class traumas.
Variations: Plyo-jacks (squatting then jumping in the air), stepping the feet out rather than jumping, holding a medicine ball, push-up jacks (jumping the legs together while doing push-ups)
Best Ways to Use Jumping Jacks in a Workout
- In a Cardio Circuit: Use jumping jacks in a circuit, doing them for 30-60 seconds and alternating them with other cardio exercises such as marching, jogging, jumping rope, etc. Try a different variation of jumping jacks each time, repeating the circuit for 10-30 minutes.
- In a Cardio/Strength Circuit: Alternate 30-60 seconds of jumping jacks with strength exercises such as squats, lunges, pushups, and dips for 10-30 minutes.
- In Your Regular Workout: Add a high-intensity blast to your regular cardio or strength workouts by adding a minute or more of jumping jacks throughout the workout or at the end.
Jog in Place
What: Jogging in a stationary position
Why: It’s simple, accessible, gets the heart rate up, and is a great way to warm up for more intense exercise.
Requirements: A good pair of shoes
Precautions: It’s high impact, which may tax the joints, and it can be boring. Because there’s no forward motion, it isn’t as intense as jogging outside.
Variations: Press the arms overhead, high knees, butt kicks, wide knees
Best Ways to Use Jogging in Place in a Workout
- As a Warm Up: Start by marching in place, then slowly change that to a jog to prepare your body for more strenuous exercise.
- In a Cardio Circuit: Alternate jogging in place with other cardio exercises, such as marching, jogging, jumping rope, step touches, etc. Do each for 30-60 seconds, repeating the circuit for 10-30 minutes.
- In a Cardio/Strength Circuit: Alternate 30-60 seconds of jogging in place with strength exercises, such as squats, lunges, push-ups, and dips for 10-30 minutes.
- As an Active Break: Try jogging in place when you need an active break at work or at home.
What: Squatting to the floor, jumping the feet to a plank position, jumping back in, and standing up
Why: It’s a killer cardio exercise, burning 100 or more calories in 10 minutes (if you can stomach 10 minutes of this exercise).
Requirements: A good pair of shoes, experience with high impact exercise, an iron will
Precautions: They’re really, really hard especially if you try some of these more difficult variations.
Best Ways to Use Burpees in a Workout
- Sparingly: As mentioned above, they’re really, really hard, so pace yourself.
- In a Cardio Circuit: Incorporate 30-60 seconds of burpees every 3-4 minutes of a cardio circuit that includes other exercises, such as marching, jogging, jumping rope, step touches, etc.
- In a Strength Circuit: Add 30-60 seconds of burpees for every 3-5 strength exercises, such as squats, lunges, push-ups, and dips for 10-30 minutes.
- In High-Intensity Interval Training: Do 30-60 seconds of burpees, rest for 30-60 seconds, and repeat for 10 or more minutes. You can also use burpees in a Tabata workout.
What: Running the knees in and out from a push-up position.
Why: Mountain climbers raise the heart rate while building strength and endurance in the core. No special skills are needed.
Requirements: Strong wrists
Precautions: This exercise can tax the wrists, arms, and shoulders, as well as the core.
Variations: Alternate jumping each foot forward and back; use sliding discs, paper plates or towels; combine them with other exercises such as burpees, push-ups, or planks
Best Ways to Use Mountain Climbers in a Workout
- In a Cardio Circuit: Add mountain climbers to your cardio circuit, doing them for 30-60 seconds each time.
- In a Strength Workout: Combine mountain climbers with push-ups or planks to add intensity.
- In Combinations: For high intensity, do a series of mountain climbers with burpees, alternate 10 push-ups with 10 mountain climbers, or add them to bear crawls.
What: From a squat position, jump as high as you can, landing back into a squat
Why: Squat jumps are a plyometric exercise that will raise the heart rate, burn calories, and increase power in the legs. No special skills are needed.
Requirements: Strong knees, experience with high impact exercise, and a good pair of shoes
Precautions: This exercise is high impact and high intensity, and requires strong joints and a strong heart. With any plyo exercise, land softly to protect the joints.
Variations: Prisoner squat jumps (with your hands behind your head), froggy jumps (touch the ground when you squat), on a BOSU
Best Ways to Use Squat Jumps in a Workout
- In a Cardio Workout: Incorporate 30-60 seconds of squat jumps into your regular cardio workout or in a cardio circuit with other exercises, such as marching, jogging, jumping rope, step touches, etc.
- In a Lower Body Workout: Add 30-60 seconds of squat jumps after every 3-5 lower body exercise, such as squats, lunges, or deadlifts to increase intensity, power, and strength.
- In High-Intensity Interval Training: Do 30-60 seconds of squat jumps, rest for 30-60 seconds, and repeat for 10 or more minutes. You can also use squat jumps in a Tabata workout.
Bear Crawl Push Ups
What: Squatting to the floor, walking the hands out to do a push-up, walking the hands back. and standing up… like a bear
Why: They get the heart rate way up while building strength and endurance.
Requirements: Experience with high-intensity exercise
Precautions: This move is tougher than it looks and the intensity accumulates quickly.
Variations: No push-up, push-up on the knees, keeping the knees down as you crawl in and out
Best Ways to Use Bear Crawl Push Ups in a Workout
- In a Cardio/Strength Workout: Incorporate 30-60 seconds of bear crawls into your regular cardio workout or in a cardio circuit with other exercises such as marching, jogging, jumping rope, burpees, etc.
- In an Upper Body Workout: Add 30-60 seconds of bear crawls for every 3-5 upper body exercises such as push-ups, chest presses, or dumbbell rows to increase intensity, power, and strength.
- In High-Intensity Interval Training: Do 30-60 seconds of bear crawls, rest for 30-60 seconds, and repeat for 10 or more minutes, or alternate bear crawls with other high-intensity exercises such as burpees or squat jumps. You can also use bear crawls in a Tabata workout.
What: Punching, kicking, and combinations thereof against a bag, the air, or (risky) another person
Why: Kickboxing can burn more than 100 calories in 10 minutes at the right intensity, requires no equipment, and can help you get out your aggressions.
Requirements: Basic knowledge of kicks and punches
Precautions: Extending the arms and legs all the way during punches and kicks can stress the joints.
Variations: Endless combinations of kicks, punches, or both
Best Ways to Use Kickboxing in a Workout
- Create Your Own Cardio Workout: If you’re familiar with kickboxing, make your own combinations: Jab-cross-hook-upper, jab-cross-hook-knee smash-front kick, squats with front kicks, jumping front kicks, or side kicks.
- Exercise Videos: Familiarize yourself with different elements of kickboxing with these instructional videos: The 5 Basic Kicks In Kickboxing, Kickboxing Punching Techniques, Jump Rope and Kickboxing Tabata Workout. You can also try home kickboxing workout routine videos.
What: Using a staircase for everything from cardio to strength training
Why: Walking stairs is an excellent cardio workout and you can use the steps for a variety of other exercises.
Requirements: A staircase with at least one step
Precautions: Watch for cats, dogs, toys, and children. Make sure there’s a handrail for safety.
Variations: Use a fitness step platform instead of actual stairs.
Best Ways to Incorporate Stairs Into Your Workout
- In a Cardio Circuit: If you have a longer staircase (more than six stairs), work it into a cardio circuit: Alternate 1-2 laps up and down with other cardio exercises, such as jumping rope, jogging in place, jumping jacks, etc.
- In High-Intensity Interval Training: Run or walk up the stairs as fast as you can and walk back down to recover, repeating for 10 or more minutes. You can also use just one step: Jump onto the step with both feet and step down, or stand sideways with one foot on the step and jump, turning 180 degrees, and landing with the other foot on the step.
- In Combined Cardio/Strength Workouts: Use one step for push-ups, lunges, dips, squats, step ups, and more.