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Bodyweight Cardio Exercises You Can Do at Home

Bodyweight Cardio Exercises You Can Do at Home

We can all agree that cardio is good for you. There has been countless research done that proves the positive health benefits of cardio. It can help with weight loss, strengthen your heart, boost your mood, and so much more. Luckily, cardio doesn't require fancy machines or equipment, or even a gym membership! There is more to cardio then just endless running, cycling, or using any type of cardio machine. Cardio is simply a type of workout that raises your heart rate and has you breathing heavily.

There's nothing wrong with a good 'ol run on the treadmill or using the stairmaster to get your heart pumping. But doing it everyday might get boring though and it could lead you to hating your daily run. That's why you should expand your workout routine so you won't get burnt out and to make sure you are targeting every major muscle group. Shake things up a bit and do a cardio workout at home!

Home workouts aren't for everybody, but with the current situation (COVID-19) we have no choice! So I wanted to put together my favorite cardio exercises that you can do at home, no equipment required! Many people might think that home workouts are just not as good as gym workouts. But they're wrong. These exercises will have your heart pumping and your body sweating!

The great thing about it is that you can continue to do this home workout even after the pandemic is over and life gets back to normal ūüėĆ

Home Cardio Workout

If you are subscribed to my fitness app - Fit With Iulia - then you've probably seen some of these exercises on HIIT workout days. I incorporate HIIT workouts in my home programs at least once a week. I love strength training, but a little cardio is always important to add into your routine! 

I selected 8 of my personal favorite bodyweight exercises - they can be adjusted for beginners and for more advanced people. I included variety to ensure you're getting a full body workout that will elevate your heart rate and get you sweating. I also included an extra one that isn't on my app ūüėČ

Jumping Jacks

Did you know that you can burn up to 100 calories in ten minutes just doing jumping jacks? It's true! If you haven't done these since middle school then it's time to start incorporating it in your training.

Here's how to do it:

Stand with your feet together and your hands at your sides. Simultaneously raise your arms above your head and jump up just enough to spread your feet out wide. Without pausing, quickly reverse the movement and repeat.

To increase the intensity try doing plyo-jacks! Instead of jumping up in the air, jump your feet out into a squat and repeat. 

Jumping jacks is considered to be high impact and it can be taxing on the joints. So just keep that in mind if you have any injuries or joint pain.

Burpees

This exercise requires to use almost every muscle in your body and it burns tons of calories! It's a difficult one, but it's worth it if you want to burn some serious calories. 

Here's how to do it:

Start by standing tall with your feet together. Then bend over and place your hands on the ground as you jump your feet back into a plank. Keep your core tight as you jump back. Jump back far enough so that you are fully extended. Do not let your butt stick up in the air. Then jump your feet back up to your hands and stand up. As you stand up, jump up off the ground.

If you want to make it lower impact then step back into a plank instead of jumping back. If you want to make it more difficult add a push-up when you're in plank position before jumping back up. 

High Knees

This exercise is essentially running in place. But what I love about is that it really engages your core and strengthens the muscles in your legs. 

Here's how to do it:

Stand in place with your feet hip-width apart. Drive your right knee toward your chest, and then quickly place it back on the ground. Follow immediately by driving your left knee toward your chest. Continue to alternate knees as quickly as you can.

I highly suggest to actually run in place and get your knees up high so you can really feel the exercise work your legs and core. But if you're barely starting out and it's too intense then march in place using your core to pull your knees to your chest. Then once you're used to the movement you can start increasing the intensity. 

Squat jumps

This is a plyometric exercise (jump training) that will raise your heart rate, work your legs, and burn some serious calories. 

Here's how to do it:

Start with your arms by your side, feet shoulder-width apart, head up, and back straight. Keeping your back straight and chest up, squat down as you inhale until your upper thighs are parallel, or lower, to the floor. Now pressing mainly with the balls of your feet, jump straight up in the air as high as possible, using the thighs like springs. Exhale during this portion of the movement. When you touch the floor again, immediately squat down and jump again.

This exercise is high intensity and high impact so just keep that in mind. Once your body is used to this exercise and you want to increase the intensity you can add a dumbbell (or any type of weight) to it! Just hold a dumbbell between your legs and jump up. If you don't have weights, then try jumping lunges into squat. All you do is sink into a squat and jump into a lunge. 

Jumping lunges

Hate or love lunges, they really do give your lower body a good workout! It works your hips, glutes, quads, hamstrings, hard to reach inner thigh muscles, and your core! 

I suggest to practice and master bodyweight lunges before diving into this exercise, it will still give you a good cardio workout. Once you're used to them then you can start implementing jumps.

Here's how to do it:

Start in a split stance position with your hands on your hips or how you feel comfortable keeping them, your torso upright, and your knees about bent at a 90-degree angle. Push your chest out and lower your rear knee toward the ground in a lunge while keeping your front shin as vertical as possible.Push explosively off the ground, jumping and switching the position of your legs while in mid-air, landing into the lunge position with the opposite leg forward.

Push ups

You might be wondering why I added this one since it's considered more of a strength training exercise. It is, but adding a couple of these into your cardio circuit is going to work your upper body and make you sweat! Push ups target your pecs (chest), delts, triceps, core, quads, and hip flexors.

Here's how to do it:

Lie on the floor face down and place your hands about 36 inches apart while holding your torso up at arm's length. Lower yourself downward until your chest almost touches the floor as you inhale. Now breathe out and press your upper body back up to the starting position while squeezing your chest.After a brief pause at the top contracted position, you can begin to lower yourself downward.

This is not a beginner friendly exercise, but it can be modified so you can still implement it into your circuit. Start by doing kneeling push ups, same position except you are going to have your knees on the ground and feet up behind you. Once you nail those, practice inclined push ups. Place your hands on an elevated surface like a bench or table and lower your body down. Once you can nail both of those then move on up to traditional push ups!

If you want to make it more difficult and intensify the exercise then try different hand placements. Try narrow or diamond push ups. 

Squat to elbow and knee crunch

This bodyweight workout will help you build a stronger core while working your glutes at the same time! 

Here's how to do it:

Stand tall and place your fingertips lightly behind your head with your elbows open out to the sides. Do not pull on your head.March one knee up and as you do, twist your core to rotate your elbow toward your knee. Don’t round your back too forward when you crunch your elbow toward your knee. Draw them as close together as you can then lower the leg back down as you go into squat. Stand up and march the other knee up and twist the opposite elbow toward your knee. You may slightly crunch your upper body to reach your elbow toward your knee, but do not round over. Also, make sure to keep your elbows wide as you twist. You don’t want to flap your arms to bring your elbow and knee together. Feel your core working as you rotate.

This exercise is beginner friendly and doesn't need any modifications to make it more difficult.

Plank with side jumps

This exercise will work your entire body! It's basically a jumping jack, but in plank position. It forces your arms to support your weight while quickly moving your legs, plus it works your core. 

Here's how to do it:

Start in straight arm plank with feet together. Move both of your legs to the side and tap your toe to the ground (jump), then bring it back to the starting position.

This is a slightly higher impact exercise, so if you are a beginner start by mastering the plank. Once you can do a one minute plank then try by stepping out side-to-side before implementing the jumps. 

Sprint, Run, or Walk Outdoors

Everybody can use some fresh air, especially during these times! If you are able to workout outdoors, do it.

Here's a few things you can do:

  1. Create a cardio circuit and do it outdoors, add some sprints to really push yourself!
  2. Jog around the block or just go on a brisk walk. If running is not your thing then just speed walk your way around your neighborhood, just remember to maintain a 6ft distance from anyone outside of your household!
  3. Does your house apartment complex have stairs? Run up and down the stairs a few times, but make sure you're not disturbing your neighbors ūü§ę

Pick a few of your favorite exercises and create your own cardio circuit to do it at home or outdoors. If your goal is to lose weight, try a HIIT workout! The best cardio for fat burn is HIIT. So if you want to burn fat and serious calories, you can create a HIIT workout by picking any 4-5 exercises that I listed above. Perform each exercise for 30-60 seconds with no rest in between (15 seconds if you really need to catch your breath). Once you complete the circuit take a minute to cool-down and repeat two more times!  But before you jump into your workout, remember to warm-up! A combination of dynamic and static stretches is best for this type of cardio workout. 

There are so many more exercises that you can in the comfort of your own living room. If you need some more ideas or just don't even know how to start planning your own workouts then check out my fitness app - Fit With Iulia. I have gym and home programs that are tailored to specific fitness goals. My two home workouts are: Lose Weight at Home and Tone Up at Home. They require minimal equipment - pair of dumbbells, maybe a table or chair, and a resistance band (to increase intensity).