How To Do Cardio At Home
When you think of doing cardio at home, you might think of running. But this is certainly not the only form of cardio that can be done at home. If you don’t enjoy running or you simply want to add some variation to your workout routine, there are plenty of alternative exercises that can be done if you’re working out at home.
Why should I be doing cardio at home?
If you can’t get to a gym, cardio is one of the most convenient and easy forms of exercise that you can do at home. Put simply, cardio is any form of aerobic exercise that you do to increase your heart rate and make your breathing heavy. It can range from high-intensity exercises where you’re moving quickly, to low-intensity cardio where you are moving more slowly.
Cardio is great for your overall physical and mental health, and much of the time requires no equipment. Here are a few of the benefits of doing cardio at home:
- Little to no equipment is required, making it easy to do at home
- You can do it inside, on your balcony or in your backyard
- Boosts your mood and brain function
- Improves your heart health by pumping blood around the body more efficiently
- Strengthens your immune system by increasing antibodies in the blood
Cardio exercises to do at home
You can do cardio at home, even if you don’t have a treadmill or elliptical machine! Using these bodyweight exercises, just 5-10 repetitions of each exercise will get your heart rate up and your blood flowing. You can choose to use a few of these exercises as a warm up for your at-home strength workout, or create a cardio bodyweight workout instead of going for a walk or run outdoors. The bonus with these at-home cardio exercises is that you’ll get some strength work in with your cardio workout!
Burpees are a great cardio exercise to do at home: they don’t require equipment, they get your heart rate up quickly, and they work your legs, abs, and arms at the same time. All you will need to do burpees is enough space for a yoga mat.
1. Place both your feet on the mat at about shoulder-width apart.
2. Bend at the hips and knees to put your hands on the mat either side of your feet. Ensure your spine stays in a neutral position.
3. Inhale. Jump both your feet backwards so that your legs are completely extended behind you, resting on the balls of your feet. Your body should be in one straight line from your head to your heels.
4. Jump both of your feet forwards in between your hands. Once again, ensure that your feet are shoulder-width apart when you land.
5. Exhale. Jump upwards into the air, extending your legs below you and your arms above your head.
6. Inhale. Land in the starting position, and ensure that you land softly to prevent injury in your knees.
Jump squats are a plyometric version of a standard bodyweight squat. This aerobic exercise will get your heart rate up and have you breathless. They work your legs and core, and unlike burpees, you won’t require too much room to do these: just enough space above you to jump and land safely.
1. Plant both of your feet on the floor shoulder-width apart.
2. Look straight ahead of you and bend at both the hips and knees. Ensure your knees stay in line with your toes. Continue bending your knees until your upper legs are parallel with the floor. 3. Ensure your back stays within a 45- to 90-degree angle of your hips. This is your starting position.
4. Inhale, then exhale. Push through your heels and jump upwards into the air, extending your knees and hips.
5. Bend your hips and knees to land and return to the starting position, ensuring that you land on your feet softly to prevent injury.
High knees are another high intensity cardio exercise. The aim here should be keeping your heart rate up, and keeping a consistent pace. Ensure that you land lightly on your feet with a soft bend in the knee to increase your control throughout the movement and soften the impact on your knees, hips and ankles.
1. Plant both feet on the floor a little further than shoulder-width apart.
2. Keeping your weight on your left foot, bend your right leg and bring your right knee up into your chest.
3. Lower your right leg and place your foot back on the floor. Then, keep your weight on your right leg, and bend your left leg, bringing your knee up to your chest.
3. Once you become comfortable with this movement, increase your speed so that you are hopping from one foot to the other.
4. Continue alternating between your right and left leg.
A jump lunge is the plyometric version of a regular lunge, which means you’ll be ‘jumping’ as you move your legs. Jump lunges work your legs — as your muscles work to jump and land (accelerate and decelerate against gravity) you develop power in the muscle. When jumping explosively, ensure you maintain a strong core and try to keep your balance as you alternate between each leg.
1. Plant both of your feet on the floor shoulder-width apart. This is your starting position.
2. Bending your knees slightly, jump up into the air. Then, land in a split stance with your left foot forward and your right leg back. Ensure your feet stay shoulder-width apart. Straight away, bend both knees to approximately 90-degrees. When done properly, your front knee should be in-line with your ankle and your back knee will hover just above the floor.
3. Extend both of your knees and jump up into the air. Land in a split stance again, this time with your right foot forward and your left leg back, once again ensuring your feet stay shoulder-width apart. Then, bend both your knees to approximately 90-degrees.
4. Extend both knees to propel your body up into the air. Land in a split stance with your left leg forward and right leg back. Continue this movement, alternating between your legs.
Tuck jumps are an advanced plyometric (jumping) exercise. In this exercise, you will be tucking your knees up to your chest as you jump. These may be somewhat challenging for those new to high intensity cardio, or if you have weak joints.
1. Plant both feet on the floor just wider than shoulder-width apart. Look straight ahead and bend at both the hips and knees, ensuring that your knees remain in line with your toes.
2. Continue bending your knees until your upper legs are parallel with the floor. Ensure that your back stays between 45 and 90 degrees of your hips.
3. Jump upwards into the air and tuck in both your elbows and knees. Extend both your legs and arms to land in a squat position. When landing, make sure you maintain ‘soft’ knees to prevent injury.
Jumping jacks are a great full body aerobic exercise. You’ll require enough space to spread your arms and legs out wide.
1. Plant both feet together on the floor with your arms by your sides. This is your starting position.
2. Jump both feet outwards so that they are wider than your hips. At the same time, raise your arms upwards and outwards from the sides of your body so that your hands almost touch directly over the top of your head.
3. Immediately jump both of your feet inwards and lower your arms to return to the starting position.
Mountain climbers are a whole body movement that not only increase your heart rate, but strengthen your shoulders, arms and core, too. It’s recommended that you use a yoga mat with this exercise.
1. Place both hands on the yoga mat shoulder-width apart with your feet together behind you, resting on the balls of your feet. This is your starting position.
2. Keeping your left foot on the floor, bend your right knee and bring up into your chest.
Then, extend your right leg back to return to the starting position.
3. Keeping your right foot on the floor, bend your left knee and bring up into your chest.
4. Extend your left leg back to return to the starting position. Continue alternating between your legs for the specified number of repetitions, inhaling every four mountain climbers and exhaling every four mountain climbers.
Butt kicks are another excellent leg exercise that will improve your coordination. If you’re new to doing cardio exercises at home, this is a great exercise to try because it’s pretty easy to get started. You don’t need much space, and you can step lightly or use a mat to keep to soften the sound of your feet hitting the ground. You can use butt kicks to build the resilience you’ll need to try some of the more high-intensity jumping exercises!
1. Plant both feet on the floor shoulder-width apart. This is your starting position.
2. Keep your weight on your left leg and bend your right leg to raise your foot up to your glutes. Lower your right leg and place your foot on the floor.
3. Keeping your weight on your right leg, bend your left leg to raise your foot to your glutes.
Once you are comfortable with this movement, increase your speed so that you are hopping from one foot to the other.
4. Continue alternating between your right and left leg, inhaling for four kicks (right-left-right-left) and exhaling for four kicks.
Step up with knee raise
The step up with knee raise exercise requires a solid surface, such as a box, step, or a sturdy chair for stepping up onto. Get creative and find ways to challenge yourself with what you already have available at home like a chair, staircase, or milk crate.
1. Place a bench horizontally in front of you and plant both feet on the floor about shoulder-width apart. Firmly plant your entire left foot on the bench, ensuring that your knee is aligned with your toes. This is your starting position.
2. Inhale. Exhale. Push through the heel of your left foot, extending your leg so it is straight. Avoid pushing through your toes so you don’t put additional pressure on your shin and knee. As you extend your left leg, bend your right knee and draw up into your chest.
3. Inhale. Extend and lower your right leg to return to the starting position.
Box jumps are great for raising your heart rate and building power through your legs! This exercise will strengthen your lower body, including glutes, quads, calves and hamstrings. Box jumps require a safe and solid surface to jump onto — such as a plyometric box, bench or step. If you do not have a sturdy surface for box jumps, broad jumps are a great no-equipment alternative. With broad jumps, you’ll jump along the ground instead of up onto a box.
1. Place a plyometric softbox directly in front of you. Plant both feet on the floor about shoulder-width apart. This is your starting position.
2. Inhale. Looking straight ahead, bend at your hips and knees, ensuring that your knees remain in line with your toes. Continue to bend your knees until your upper legs are parallel with the floor. Make sure your back remains within a 45- to 90-degrees of your hips. This is called squat position.
3. Exhale. Propel your body upwards and forwards, drawing your knees into your chest, landing in squat position on top of the box. Ensure that you keep your knees ‘soft’ to avoid injury. Inhale. Push through your heels, extending your legs so you are in a standing position on top of the box.
4. Exhale. Carefully step backwards off the box, one foot at a time, and return to the starting position.
If you have a jump rope at home, skipping is an excellent way to get your heart rate up – and it’s fun! You can do a simple jump rope workout for beginners as a standalone workout, or add skipping as a single exercise to your overall routine.
1. Plant both feet on the floor slightly further than shoulder-width apart. Hold the rope by either handle, with the rope behind your feet.
2. Using your arms, swing the rope over your head and jump over it.
Getting started with cardio at home
Doing cardio at home can seem like a daunting task if you’ve never done it before. Incorporating these exercises into an at-home cardio workout doesn’t have to be complicated — pick a few that you’re comfortable with and create your own circuit, or try our simple HIIT workout for beginners, which is a great starting point if you’re new to high intensity cardio.
* Results may vary. Strict adherence to the nutrition and exercise guide are required for best results.