Scan this QR Code to follow PureWow on Snapchat!
PureWow

When you’re in need of a good sweat sesh but can’t make it to the gym, an at-home workout can feel like a subpar second option. Sure, you can lift some dumbbells and bust out a quadruped plank, but what about the cardio? What about that feel-good, music-blaring, endorphin-pumping exercise that gets our heart rate pumping? Great news: Some of the hardest cardiovascular workouts can be done on a 6” x 2” yoga mat in your living room.

What Are the Benefits of Cardio Exercise?

Cardio, or aerobic exercise, is essential to good health. Engaging in aerobic exercise will help keep your heart, lungs and circulatory system fit and functioning. “Cardio is good for the heart,” says L.A. personal trainer Danny Saltos. “And a strong heart is key to longevity. This type of exercise promotes healthy blood circulation, provides a boost of endorphins and increases lung capacity. It’s also a great way to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and high cholesterol.”

When smartly paired with anaerobic activities, like weight lifting, cardio can be even more beneficial. To help explain this, Saltos likes to look at cardio as the dessert after the main course. “Your glycogen stores––the energy that your body stores in tissues––are best utilized for heavier lifting such as strength training.” This is because anaerobic exercise involves quick bursts of movement that are performed at maximum effort for a short period of time. To complete that kind of workout, your body burns through energy derived from glucose (aka the simple sugar that’s produced from carbohydrates). “Doing cardio after a good strength workout allows your body to tap into fat stores,” which is when you can start to see a change in your weight. “Bottom line, strength training and cardio are great on their own, but when done together in the right way, they’re incredible.”

To get your fitness fix at home, pick five of your favorite exercises from the list below and complete three rounds using the recommended number of reps for each move. To start, try cycling through the five starred exercises our resident trainer Danny loves the most (toe taps, running in a square formation, plank jacks, jump rope and shadow boxing). For frequency, follow his easy-to-remember guideline: “Do two long forms of cardio (30 minutes max) twice a week. Do shorter bursts of cardio (15 to 20 minutes max) three times a week. The shorter bursts should be incorporated at the end of strength-training days. This is what I recommend to all of my clients.” Ready to work it like Camila Coehlo? Let’s do this.

RELATED: 12 Free Weight Exercises You Can Do in Your Living Room

cardio at home high knees
Digital Art by Mckenzie Cordell

1. High Knees

Step 1: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Lift your left knee up to your chest. Quickly lower and switch, bringing your right knee up to your chest.

Step 2: Speed things up while maintaining form and alternating legs. You should be moving at a fast pace, as if you were sprinting.

Step 3: Continue with this movement for 30 to 60 seconds. Rest and repeat.

cardio at home butt kicks
Digital Art by Mckenzie Cordell

2. Butt Kicks

Step 1: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bring your right heel up to your butt. Quickly lower and switch, bringing your left heel up to your butt.

Step 2: Speed things up while maintaining form and alternating legs. Stay on the balls of your feet as if you were jogging in place.

Step 3: Continue with this movement for 30 to 60 seconds. Rest and repeat.

cardio at home toe taps
Digital Art by Mckenzie Cordell

3. Toe Taps

Step 1: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, facing your stairs, a step stool or even an old soccer ball.

Step 2: Jog in place and then bring the right foot up to tap the top of the item in front of you. Simultaneously lower and bring the left foot up to tap the top of the item in front of you. Increase your speed until you’re bouncing on the balls of your feet.

Step 3: Continue with this movement for 30 to 45 seconds. Rest and repeat.

cardio at home jumping jacks
Digital Art by Mckenzie Cordell

4. Jumping Jacks

Step 1: Stand with your feet together, arms relaxed at your sides.

Step 2: Slightly bend your knees and jump up, spreading your feet out until they’re about shoulder-width apart. Keeping your arms straight, simultaneously stretch them out and then over your head.

Step 3: Jump back to the starting position, bringing your feet in and your arms back down to your sides. Complete 20 reps total. Rest and repeat.

cardio at home plank jacks
Digital Art by Mckenzie Cordell

5. Plank Jacks

Step 1: Begin on all fours in a push-up position with your hands directly below your shoulders. Keep your back straight and your core engaged.

Step 2: Jump your legs out wide and then back together as if you were doing a jumping jack. Keep your gaze forward and your pelvis steady.

Step 3: Complete 20 reps. Rest and repeat.

cardio at home squat jumps
Digital Art by Mckenzie Cordell

6. Squat Jumps

Step 1: Stand with your feet slightly more than hip-width apart. Bend your knees and squat down as if you were doing a regular body-weight squat. Bring your hands together in front of your chest.

Step 2: Engage your core and power through your feet as you jump up explosively. Straighten your legs as you jump high in the air, sending your arms down to your sides. Try to jump as high as possible.

Step 3: When you land, lower your body down into a squat to complete one rep. Keep this motion smooth and swift, landing as lightly as possible.

Step 4: Complete 10 reps total. Rest and repeat.

cardio at home running in a square formation
Digital Art by Mckenzie Cordell

7. Running in a Square Formation

Step 1: Draw an imaginary square on the floor, about five feet in each direction.

Step 2: Facing the front of the room the entire time, begin at the top left corner and work your way around the square with quick feet for 1 minute.

Step 3: Repeat in the opposite direction for 1 minute. This is one set. Rest and repeat.

cardio at home burpees
Digital Art by Mckenzie Cordell

8. Burpees

Step 1: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms relaxed.

Step 2: Squat down, place your hands on the floor in front of you and jump your feet back. Feeling strong? Do one push-up while in this position.

Step 3: Jump your feet forward, stand back up into a squat, jump up and reach your arms up high. This is one rep.

Step 4: Continue this movement for 30 to 60 seconds. Rest and repeat.

*Burpees are NOT easy. Complete as many as you can in the predetermined time while maintaining good form.

cardio at home jump rope
Digital Art by Mckenzie Cordell

9. Jump Rope

Step 1: Grab your favorite jump rope and find some free space. Don’t have high ceilings? Head outside.

Step 2: Stand and hold the jump rope in both hands. Place the jump rope behind your heels and hold each handle near your waist.

Step 3: Use your wrists to turn the rope up and over your head. Begin jumping, keeping your feet close together, knees slightly bent and head up with your gaze facing forward. You don’t need to jump very high. Your feet should only be about one inch off the ground.

Step 4: Continue this movement for 60 seconds. Rest and repeat.

cardio at home mountain climbers
Digital Art by Mckenzie Cordell

10. Mountain Climbers

Step 1: Begin on all fours in a push-up position with your hands directly below your shoulders. Keep your back straight and your core engaged.

Step 2: Bring your right knee to your chest as far as you can. Quickly switch legs, pulling your left knee in while sending your right foot back. Keeping your butt down and your hips even, run your knees in and out as far and as fast as you can.

Step 3: Complete 20 reps (10 on each leg). Rest and repeat.

cardio at home shadow boxing
Digital Art by Mckenzie Cordell

11. Shadow Boxing

Step 1: Stand in front of a mirror, an unlucky roommate or any spot in your home.

Step 2: If you’re right-handed, begin with your left foot slightly in front of your right. If you’re left-handed, begin with your right foot slightly in front of your left. Form fists with your hands and bring your arms up to your chest, keeping your hands in line with your jaw.

Step 3: Begin shadow boxing, throwing various punches like jabs, hooks, crosses and uppercuts. Stay light on your feet, moving quickly forward and back on the balls of your toes.

Step 4: Continue with this movement for 3 minutes. Rest and repeat.

*Throughout this exercise, keep your hands and forearms high to protect your face as if you were actually in the boxing ring.

cardio at home dance
Digital Art by Mckenzie Cordell

12. Dance

Step 1: Put on music.

Step 2: Dance! In the words of Meredith Grey, let’s dance it out. Cardio dance has some amazing health benefits, both physically and mentally. Aside from burning fat and toning your muscles, it’s one of the few exercises that can give you a full-body aerobic workout. It’s also just a total mood booster and can be a fun way to break up the monotony of everyday exercise. For this one, there really are no step-by-step instructions. Put on your favorite song and dance like no one’s watching.

Not sure where to begin when choreographing your own workout? Here are some of our favorite dance cardio classes you can stream right now:

  1. DanceBody
  2. Amanda Kloots
  3. Obé Fitness
  4. Body By Simone
  5. LEKFIT
  6. AKT

RELATED: The 15 Best Core Workouts You Can Do at Home, No Equipment Necessary

From Around The Web