Doing a home cardio workout may be a lot simpler than you think. There are countless cardio exercises you can accomplish right in your living room without much space or equipment. It provides you with a convenient option that can save you time and money.
Juggling work, school, kids, or possibly all three can make it difficult to find time for the gym. This is why an at-home cardio routine may be all you need to take the steps towards reaching your physical goals. This program is a good option for those who are looking to burn fat, gain muscle, and improve energy.
High Intensity Interval Training
High intensity interval training (HIIT) is a cardio strategy that has become increasingly popular given its ability to improve cardio capacity without the need for expensive equipment. This type of interval training is shown to improve our health by lowering blood pressure, influencing fat loss, and burning more calories in a shorter time frame.
It’s broken down into two intervals:
1. Work Interval
An explosive burst of exercise at 90-100% of your maximal cardiovascular capacity for a minimum of 20-30 seconds.
2. Rest Interval
A brief period of recovery for a maximum of 30-45 seconds. This can be done as an active workout recovery (still moving at a low intensity), or a still recovery (stop moving entirely).
Home Cardio Exercises
Interval training uses fast-paced bodyweight exercises, creating a great workout to do anytime, and anywhere. Here’s a list of 10 full-body exercises you can incorporate today using the HIIT method.
1. Jumping Squats
From a standing position, have both feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, feet pointed forward, and shoulders back. Begin your squat by bending at the hips and knees maintaining an open chest until you reach 45-90 degrees at your knees. In one explosive movement, propel your body up into a jump pushing your arms straight by your sides. Land back into this same squat position and repeat the movement.
Modification: Pulse Squats
From a standing position, begin the movement by bending your knees to a 45-90 degree angle as described in the jump squat. Rather than jumping off the ground, you will instead ‘pulse’ up and down by about 20 degrees.
2. Jumping Lunges
From a lunge position, have one leg in front of the other, bending your front knee as your lower your body down. Make sure this knee doesn’t bend over your toes. In one explosive movement, propel your body upwards into a jump while also switching your legs mid-air (the leading leg switches to become the back leg).
Modification: Pulse Lunges
From a lunge position, begin the movement by bending your front knee and lowering your body downward as described in the jumping lunge. Rather than jumping off the ground, you will instead ‘pulse’ up and down by about 20 degrees.
3. Mountain Climbers
From a high-plank position raised onto your hands with your feet shoulder-width apart, begin by pulling one knee at a time towards your chest then extending it back onto the floor. Continue this movement one leg at a time keeping your core braced with your head and neck in a neutral position looking down at the floor.
Modification: Plank Jacks
From a high-plank position, brace your core and have your feet close to each other to begin the movement. Jump your feet out (like a horizontal jumping jack) keeping your hands planted on the floor. Jump your feet back together and continue this movement.
4. ‘X’ Jumps
From a standing position, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, bend over at the hips and knees keeping your chest up and touch your right hand to your left foot. Explosively jump up off the ground like a jumping jack and land back into a bent position. This time touch your left hand to your right foot. Continue this movement by alternating sides each time.
Modification: Jumping Jacks
From a standing position, hands by your side, jump up with your arms extended over your head in a ‘Y’ position. Land your feet wider than your hips. Jump back inwards bringing you arms down by your sides, landing your feet next to one another. Continue this movement.
The only equipment needed for this exercise is a steady piece of furniture (i.e a chair or couch) that’s roughly knee-height.
From a standing position, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, step one foot up at a time onto the furniture ending in a standing position. Step back and down off the furniture one foot at a time, keeping your chest up to maintain balance. Continue this movement alternating the stepping leg each time.
An accessory movement to add to this exercise is to bring one knee up at the top of the step-up (i.e. right leg steps up, left leg follows bringing the left knee towards your chest).
Modification: High knees
From a standing position, extend your arms straight forward and explosively bring one knee up towards your hands and back down onto the floor in the starting position. Continue this movement while alternating knees each time in a high-knee running manner.
From a standing position, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, kick your feet back into a high plank position on your hands. Bend at the elbows into a full push up. Jump both feet back towards your hands then explosively jump up raising both hands above your head, landing back in a standing position. Continue this movement.
From a standing position, bend at the hips and lower your hands down to the floor. Have your knees slightly bent if needed. Walk your hands out, reaching the high plank position, then immediately walk your hands back towards your feet and stand up. Continue this movement.
From a high plank position, hands below your shoulders and feet shoulder-width apart, drop down onto your forearms (into the low-plank position) one arm at a time. Keeping your back flat and stabilizing through your abdominal muscles, raise back onto your hands one arm at a time. Continue alternating the arm you lower first.
Modification: High Plank with Shoulder Taps
From this same high-plank position, lift one hand off the ground and tap the opposite shoulder (left hand taps the right shoulder) then place it back onto the floor. Continue alternating the hand you lift on each repetition.
8. Lateral Squat Steps
From a standing position, lower into a squat with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Begin to horizontally step to the side while maintaining the squat position throughout. Start moving to your right by stepping out with your right foot and step together with your left foot. Continue for 5 steps to the right then 5 steps to the left.
Modification: Lateral jumps
Lowering into a squat position as described in the lateral squat steps, shift your weight onto your right leg and explosively jump laterally to the left, landing on your left leg. Back into a squat position, shift your weight onto the right leg and explosively jump laterally to the right.
9. Triceps Dips with Alternating Leg Lifts
In a seated position on the floor, lift your glutes off the floor by raising onto your hands and feet in an upside down tabletop position (i.e crab walk position).
Bend your elbows to engage your triceps while simultaneously lifting one leg off the floor at a time. Straighten your elbows as you place this leg back onto the floor. Continue this movement while alternating legs on each repetition. If you find this dip variant not suitable, follow dips progression guide for more alternatives.
Modification: Tricep Dips on Raised Surface
Starting with your hands on top of a chair or couch, fingers pointing towards your body, have your feet planted on the floor with your glutes raised above the floor. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees and lower your body down towards the floor without touching down. Straighten your elbows again to raise back up. Continue this movement.
10. V-sit Twists
From a seated position on the floor, raise your legs and torso off the ground so your body creates a ‘V’ position. Grip both hands together in front of your chest and move them from your right hip to your left hip. Continue this movement keeping your core stabilized.
Modification: Flutter Kicks
From a seated position on the floor, lean back onto your elbows with your hands facing towards your feet. With your legs straight and hovering over the floor, flutter your feet up and down continuously. Make sure you stabilize your core throughout this movement as well.
As you might have noticed above, the key ingredient to cardio exercises is the ‘explosive’ nature of these movements. This is necessary to peak your heart rate in a short amount of time. This kind of high-energy movement takes a toll on your joints if it isn’t accomplished properly.
The top 3 methods to prevent injury are to warm-up your muscles, understand the mechanics of the movement, and learn to breathe and stabilize your core.
Warming-up the muscles needed for the cardio workout is crucial for injury prevention. Dynamic warm-ups are best to slightly elevate your heart right which helps to improve blood flow to the muscles.
Examples of dynamic movements include leg swings, standing squats, lunges with an upper body twist, circular arm swings, cat-camel exercise, semi-circle neck movement, and so on.
If you have any home ellipticals equipment, a short and intense use on any type of rowing machines or any types of treadmills would also be a great option, to warm up your body.
Successful Movement Mechanics
When you’re starting on a new cardio program, it’s important to make sure you can successfully move through the exercise with proper form. Start with slow and controlled movements before jumping into the explosive movements (i.e start with standing squats before jumping squats).
Another tip to establish proper form is to progressively overload your muscles. If you’re a beginner, start with 15 seconds of work and 45 seconds of rest. Over time, you can build up to 30, possibly 45 seconds of work. Never compensate form for repetitions/time! If you are looking on adding more exercises to this workout, check out the Basic Home Workout, it includes 6 exercises which could complement this workout.
Lastly, you can watch yourself in the mirror to ensure you are performing the movement patterns correctly.
Breathe and Stabilize
When moving through this list of exercises, you will need to remind yourself to stabilize your core. No matter the movement, whether you’re standing, jumping, or in a plank position, you need to keep your core strong from your neck to your tailbone.
Additionally, explosive movements can cause light-headedness. It’s important to connect your breathing to the movement to keep you from holding your breath. A tip is to ‘exhale during exertion and inhale during rest’. For example, during your step-ups, you will exhale as you step up, and inhale as you step down.
Make it your own
All of us are different and some of the exercises might not be suitable for you. Feel free to pick and choose from this or other home workout exercises to craft a perfect workout for you. I highly recommend you to read a guide on how to make a workout plan to make sure the training is optimal for your goals.
Over To You
There you have it, similarly to our 7 minute workout, here I present a list of 10 full-body exercises (plus modifications) that give you an efficient and convenient workout that takes very little time and no equipment to do. This free home workout is a great option, no matter what your goals are, whether you’re looking to lose weight, get toned, or feel energized, this cardio program can be just what you need!
What’s holding you back from starting this program today?