Stepping up your cardio game is a great way to lose weight and improve your overall health. Cardio exercises energize your body and they are full-body workouts that get your heart rate up and burn calories. Not only that, but doing cardio can also boost your mood. It may even make your brain healthier.
When most of us imagine cardio workouts, we immediately think of going for a run, getting on the elliptical or heading to an aerobics class. But there are plenty of quick and efficient ways to get that aerobic activity in right from home with no equipment required!
I put together some of my favorite cardio moves that you can do between meetings or while you're watching TV. Even if you only have a few minutes, you can get in a workout. In fact, some studies suggest that it really only takes a few minutes for exercise to make a big impact on your health. So press play on your favorite pump-me-up playlist and let’s get moving!
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Forward & backward jumps
This move is simple, but effective. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend at the knees and extend your arms behind you. Jump forward a few feet, swinging your arms up toward the sky for momentum. Land softly with knees bent. Using the same movements, jump backward a few feet.
Sit down and back into a squat position, squeezing your glutes and abs. As you return to a standing position, extend your right arm straight out in front of you in a punching motion. Bring your right arm back in and squat back down. This time as you return to standing, extend your left arm straight out in front of you in a punching motion. For a challenge, you can elevate this move by holding light dumbbells.
Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Squeezing your glutes, squat down half way, and then jump up as high as you can reaching your arms toward the sky. Land softly, and then use the momentum from your last jump to repeat. Make sure you keep your abs engaged throughout the entire exercise.
Start with your feet as wide as your hips. Then step your right foot to the right, and bend the right knee, sitting down into a side lunge. Reach the right glute back and keep the left leg straight. Press down through the right heel and come back to center. Then step your left foot out and lunge to the left. Keep your movements controlled, and repeat side to side as quickly as you can.
Running in place
Make sure you put on your tennis shoes for this one! Lightly run in place with the knees bent and arms moving as fast as you can. If you want to step it up and burn even more calories, you can run in place at a sprinting speed. For a lower-impact variation, you can march in place.
Start by standing upright with your legs together, and your arms by your sides. With knees slightly bent, push off the floor and jump into the air. As you’re jumping, spread your legs shoulder-width apart, and swing your arms out to the sides and up over your head. Jump back to the starting position, and repeat!
Instead of reaching the knees toward your chest like you do with high knees, you’ll be kicking your feet behind you, reaching your heels toward your butt. This will help with hip flexor mobility and can also loosen up the quads. Simply kick your right foot back toward your right glute, and then kick your left foot back toward your left glute. The faster you go, the more you may feel like you’re running in place — so make sure you focus the movement on kicking your feet toward the glute with every step.
The Jump squat is a power move that target your core and entire lower body. With your feet hip-distance apart, lower into a squat position. Make sure you keep a strong, straight back and your knees behind your toes. With control, jump straight up and swing your arms overhead. Softly return back to your starting squat position and repeat.
Begin in plank position, with your back straight, hips low and core engaged. Keep your shoulders over your wrists. Bring your right knee under your chest toward your right elbow. Return your right leg back to plank position; bring your left leg under your chest toward your left elbow. Repeat while alternating your legs, keeping a steady pace. Remember to breathe and concentrate on engaging your abs, glutes and hamstrings.
Starting with your feet hip-distance apart, sink into a deep knee bend. Bring both of your arms in front of your chest, holding them up to help you keep your balance. Starting with your right foot and following with your left, shuffle right for 3 or 4 steps (depending on your space), and then repeat to the left. Keep your chest up, core strong, and glutes engaged throughout this movement.
March your right knee up toward your chest, place it down, and then march the left knee toward your chest. As you start moving faster, try and keep your knees up as high as you can. You can pick up the pace and increase the impact of this workout by adding jumps. Always land with softly bent knees, and swing your arms to keep your heart rate up.
Dance it out!
If you’re looking to spice up your cardio routine while having some fun, dance! Put on your favorite song and focus on keeping your body moving to the beat, incorporating your arms and legs for a full-body cardio workout. Dancing has been shown to help improve your mood and is an awesome standalone workout or a fun way to finish out your favorite circuit!
Side Toe Taps
Standing with your feet as wide as your hips, tap your right foot out to the right and then come back to center. Then tap your left foot out to the left and come back to center. Keep tapping right then left, alternating for 60 seconds.
Start with your feet as wide as your hips and arms down by your sides. Tap your right foot out to the right (like you did for a side tap) and reach both arms up overhead. Then bring the right foot back to center and the arms back down by your sides. Tap the left foot out to the left and reach the arms overhead, then bring the arms down and the foot back to center. Repeat as quickly as you can, alternating for 60 seconds.
Plank Shoulder Tap
Come into a plank position with your shoulders over your wrists. Spread your fingers wide. Pull your naval in toward your spine and shift your weight to your left hand as you lift your right hand up and tap your left shoulder. Then place the right hand down and switch to the other side, repeating for 10 times on each side.
Plank to Downward Facing Dog
Start in a plank position with your shoulders over your wrists. Pull your low abs in as you quickly pike your hips up and back into a downward facing dog. Reach your heels toward the ground and your glutes up toward the ceiling. Press down firmly through your hands. Then quickly move forward into plank again. Repeat 10 times.
Side to Side Shuffle
To start, lower down into a squat. From here, move to your right using quick shuffle steps for six steps. Repeat to the left side. The goal is to stay low and move quickly to the right then left. Repeat for 10 repetitions on each side.
Stand with feet shoulder-distance apart. Draw one leg behind you into a curtsy lunge. Maintain a 90-degree angle with the front knee. Next, use your front arm to create momentum as you swing your arms forward to leap the back leg to the side. This skating motion will switch sides, so the previously back leg is now in the front, and vice versa. Replicate the motion to switch sides. Repeat for 10 repetitions.
Start in a full plank position. Engage your abs to protect your lower back. Jump both feet out, similar to doing a jumping jack, remaining in a plank position. Jump the feet back in. Increase speed as you repeat the motion. Repeat for 10-20 repetitions.
Begin this exercise in a lunge position. As you prepare to jump, sink down deeper into the lunge. Engage your core muscles, leaning slightly forward. Explode upwards. Quickly exchange feet to switch lunge positions when you land, switching arms as you do so. Do your best to land softly. Do not lock your knees; keep them softly bent. Repeat for 10 repetitions total, or 5 repetitions each leg.
Grapevine with a jump
Start standing with your arms by your sides and your feet shoulder-width apart. Step to the left with your left foot and then step your right foot behind your left foot. Then, step your left foot out to the left again. This is the grapevine. Then, slightly bend your knees as you jump up and clap, landing with softly bent knees. Repeat, moving this time to the right. Alternate left and right, performing 5 times to each side.
Standing with your feet as wide as your shoulders, put your hands up and pitter patter your feet quickly. Stay in place and up on your toes to complete 20 steps or for 10 seconds total.
Lunge to Knee Drive
With the feet as wide as the hips, step the right foot back into a reverse lunge. Then, with force, bring the right knee through center and up toward your chest as you jump on your left foot landing with a slightly bent leg. Without stopping at the center, step the right foot back into the reverse lunge again. Repeat 10 times, then switch sides.
Straighten your arms out to your sides and lift them up as high as your shoulders. Begin rotating in small circles. Completing 10 rotations forward and then 10 rotations backward.