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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 than 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 every day might get boring though and it could lead you to hate 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 if the pandemic taught us anything is that having a home workout routine comes in handy in emergencies! And that they can be just as good as gym workouts, that is if you know how to structure your workouts! So, to help you create better cardio home workouts that will have your heart rate pumping and your body sweaty, we've put together a list of our favorite bodyweight exercises!

How to structure your home cardio workout

Before we get to our list of exercises, here are a few tips on creating your own effective home cardio workout...

  • Create a HIIT workout! Pick 4 or more exercises, perform each exercise for 30-60 seconds with little to no rest in between sets. Once you've completed a round, take a minute or two to cool-down and repeat 3-5 times!
  • Create a circuit workout! Circuit training is slightly different than HIIT. The workouts are often longer and combine strength training to work the entire body. Pick a few of these cardio exercises along with a few strength training exercises to create a circuit workout. Pick 5-10 exercises, spend one minute at each station for however many rounds you want to do (between 3-6 is good), and set up a rest time between sets and rounds.
  • Add them in between your strength training sets! If you're on a time crunch at the gym and want to get some cardio in while strength training, then incorporate your favorite bodyweight cardio exercises in between your sets. Just remember to choose an exercise that won't overwork the muscle groups you're targeting that day.

Bodyweight Cardio Exercises

These bodyweight cardio exercises can be done anywhere, by anyone! We've selected a handful of different beginner and advanced bodyweight exercises that target multiple muscle groups to help elevate your heart rate and work your muscles.

If you're subscribed to the Fit With Iulia app, you'll find some of these moves familiar  ðŸ˜‰ 

Jumping Jacks

This may be a beginner move, but 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 them into 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.

Plyo-Jacks

For those who want something more advanced and intense, try plyo-jacks! These are very slow jumping jacks that require you to jump out, but then slow it down to add a deep squat. Thus challenging your hips, glutes, thighs, and your heart rate.

Here's how to do it:

Stand tall with your feet together and arms down by your sides. Begin by pushing your butt back to get in a slight squat. Instead of jumping your feet out wide on the ground like when doing a jumping jack, you'll want to explode off the ground as you jump your feet out wide. Raising your legs up to the sides as you jump and swing your arms out to the sides and overhead. Bring your feet back together and sink back into a squat, like in the starting position. Move through it slowly, once you're accustomed to the move you can quicken your pace. 

Burpees

This exercise requires the use of 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.

Tip: If you want to make it lower impact then step back into a plank instead of jumping back.

Single-leg burpees

If you've already mastered burpees and want something more challenging, try isolating one side to make you work harder! Single-leg burpees engage your core like the traditional move, except it's battling balance and stability, forcing you to work harder.

Here's how to do it:

Stand on one leg and begin by dropping down, allowing only one foot to touch the ground. Hop back to a high plank position with one foot still off the ground, and perform a push-up. Hop back forward and regain your balance before exploding straight up landing on the same foot.

High Knees

This exercise is essentially running in place. But what's great about it is that it 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.

Tip: Try actually running in place to get your knees up high. This will help you really feel the exercise and 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. 

Long jump with jog back

Want something slightly more challenging than high knees, but still helps work your heart rate and lower body? Try this exercise, it'll help get your heart rate up and work your leg muscles!

Here's how to do it:

Begin by standing with feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent. Lower your body into a high squat position and jump forward as far as possible with both feet. Aim to land lightly on the balls of your feet. Then, as quickly as possible, jog backward to your starting place and repeat.

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.

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! 

We suggest mastering the bodyweight lunge 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

This is considered more of a strength training exercise, 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.

Tip: â€‹â€‹â€‹â€‹For beginners, try kneeling push-ups or inclined push-ups. These two variations help take some of the weight off to make it easier for you to go through the full range of motion. Once you build strength, you'll be able to move up to a traditional push-up!

Triceps push-up with mountain climbers

If you want something more advanced that works your upper body and your heart then try this move! Well, actually it's two moves in one. Mountain climbers work your entire body as it is, but add in a tricep push-up to further challenge your arms, specifically the triceps.

Here's how to do it:

Start in a high plank position with your core tight and engaged. Lower onto your forearms at the same tight, making sure your core is tight and hips are leveled. Push back up onto your hands at the same time so you're back at the starting position. Finish the move by doing a mountain climber! Drive your right knee into your chest, and then your left knee into your chest.

Tip: Is this too challenging? Perform a push-up on your knees instead, and then lift them to do the mountain climber.

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 a 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.

Plank with side jumps

This exercise will work your entire body! It's basically a jumping jack but in a 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.

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

Hopefully, this list gives you some new exercise ideas to help you create a full-body workout that you can do at the gym or in your living room! If you need some more ideas or just don't even know how to start planning your own workouts then check out the fitness app - Fit With Iulia. Iulia plans new goal-focused workouts every week, which includes four gym programs and two home programs. So, if you need home workouts that require minimal equipment, or need effective workouts planned for you, try your first workout on the Fit With Iulia app for free - No subscription required! Simply download the app, go to Goals & Workout, and try the first workout of any goal for free.