How To Get The Most Out Of Cardio At Home

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March 30, 2020

How To Get The Most Out Of Cardio At Home - Hero image

When you think about doing cardio at home, running or walking on a treadmill might come to mind — but it's certainly not the only form of cardio you can try.

If you don’t enjoy running or you simply want to add some variety to your at-home cardio workout routine, there are plenty of alternative exercises you can do, even if you only have a small space available!

Why should you do cardio at home?

If you can’t get to a gym or prefer to work out at home, cardio is one of the most convenient and easiest forms of exercise you can try.

Put simply, cardio is any form of aerobic exercise that you do to increase your heart rate — it can range from high-intensity exercises where you’re moving quickly, to slower-paced low-intensity cardio. Almost everyone can do cardio exercises at home, and most cardio workouts can be modified to suit any level of fitness ranging from beginner to advanced.

cardio workout is great for your overall physical and mental health and often requires no equipment. Here are a few of the benefits:

  • Little to no equipment is required, meaning your cardio session can often be done anywhere, anytime. Take your workout indoors, to your balcony or in your backyard!

  • It can help boost your mood and brain function - a 2017 study found aerobic exercise can help improve your memory function and help to maintain brain health as you get older

  • It can promote better heart health. The American Heart Association and American College of Sports Medicine both recommend combining cardio exercise with resistance training for the greatest benefits 

  • It can help you get a better night's sleep!John Hopkins Medicine has said that moderate aerobic exercise can help increase the amount of deep sleep you get

  • It may help support your immune system! A 2019 study supported the idea that our immune system is responsive to exercise 

Try these at-home cardio exercises

You can have a great cardio workout at home, even if you don’t have a treadmill or elliptical machine! Just 5-10 repetitions of each of these bodyweight exercises will get your heart rate up and your blood flowing. You can include a few of these exercises as a warm-up for your at-home strength workout, smash it out for a quick lunchtime session when you're working from home or opt for a cardio bodyweight workout instead of a walk or run outdoors.

An added bonus? You’ll include some strength training, too. With time and consistency, you will begin to increase your endurance and strength.

Exercise: Burpee - Kayla Itsines

Burpees

Burpees don’t require equipment, they get your heart rate up quickly, and they work so many muscles at the same time — and all you need is enough space for a fitness mat.

1. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. 2. Bend at the hips and knees to put your hands on the mat on either side of your feet. Ensure your spine stays in a neutral position. 3. Jump both your feet backwards so that your legs are completely extended behind you, resting on the balls of your feet. Your body should be in one straight line from your head to your heels. 4. Jump both of your feet forwards in between your hands. Once again, ensure that your feet are shoulder-width apart when you land. 5. Jump upwards into the air, extending your legs below you and your arms above your head. 6. Land in the starting position and ensure that you land softly to protect your knees.

Exercise: Jump Squat - Chontel Duncan

Jump squats

Jump squats are a plyometric version of a bodyweight squat that will get your heart rate up quickly. Adding a jump to your squats can help to develop more explosive power and strength in your glutes and upper legs. Jump squats are great for getting your heart rate up — and they require even less room than burpees! 

1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. 

2. Look straight ahead of you and bend at both the hips and knees. Ensure your knees stay in line with your toes. Continue bending your knees until your upper legs are parallel with the floor. 3. Ensure your back stays within a 45 to 90-degree angle of your hips. This is your starting position.

4. Push through your heels and jump upwards into the air, extending your knees and hips.

5. Bend your hips and knees to land and return to the starting position, ensuring that you land on your feet softly with a slight bend in your knees to prevent injury.

Exercise: HighKnees - Chontel Duncan

High knees

This is another high-intensity cardio exercise. You should aim to keep your heart rate up and move at a consistent pace. Ensure you land lightly on your feet with a soft bend in the knee to increase your control throughout the movement and soften any impact on your knees, hips and ankles.

1. Stand with your feet a little further than shoulder-width apart.

2. Keeping your weight on your left foot, bend your right leg and bring your right knee up into your chest.

3. Lower your right leg and place your foot back on the floor. Then, keep your weight on your right leg, and bend your left leg, bringing your knee up to your chest.

3. Once you become comfortable with this movement, increase your speed so that you are hopping from one foot to the other in a running motion.

4. Continue alternating between your right and left leg.

Exercise: JumpLunge - Chontel Duncan

Jump lunges

A jump lunge is the plyometric version of a regular lunge, which means you’ll be jumping as you move your legs. Jump lunges help to develop power in your leg muscles as your muscles work to jump explosively and land. Ensure you maintain a strong core and try and keep your balance as you alternate between each leg.

1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. This is your starting position.

2. Bending your knees slightly, jump up into the air. Then, land in a split stance with your left foot forward and your right leg back. Ensure your feet stay shoulder-width apart. Straight away, bend both knees to approximately 90 degrees. When done properly, your front knee should be in-line with your ankle and your back knee will hover just above the floor.

3. Extend both of your knees and jump up into the air. Land in a split stance again, this time with your right foot forward and your left leg back, once again ensuring your feet stay shoulder-width apart. Then, bend both your knees to approximately 90 degrees.

4. Extend both knees to propel your body up into the air. Land in a split stance with your left leg forward and right leg back. Continue this movement, alternating between your legs.

Exercise: TuckJump - Kelsey Wells

Tuck jumps

Tuck jumps are an advanced plyometric (jumping) exercise. In this exercise, you tuck your knees up to your chest as you jump. Tuck jumps can be challenging for anyone new to high-intensity cardio, or if you have weak joints, so it might be something you need to practice and work up to.

1. Stand with your feet just wider than shoulder-width apart. Look straight ahead and bend at both the hips and knees, ensuring that your knees remain in line with your toes. 

2. Continue bending your knees until your upper legs are parallel with the floor. Ensure that your back stays between 45 and 90 degrees of your hips.

3. Jump upwards into the air and tuck your elbows and knees in towards your chest. Extend both your legs and arms to land in a squat position. When landing, make sure you maintain ‘soft’ knees to prevent injury.

Exercise: Jumping Jack - Kayla Itsines

Jumping jacks

Jumping jacks require enough space to spread your arms and legs out wide.

1. Stand with your feet together and your arms by your sides. This is your starting position.

2. Jump both feet outwards so that they are wider than your hips. At the same time, raise your arms upwards and outwards from the sides of your body so that your hands almost touch directly over the top of your head.

3. Immediately jump both of your feet inwards and lower your arms to return to the starting position.

Exercise: MountainClimbers - Kelsey Wells

Mountain climbers

Mountain climbers are a full-body movement that not only increase your heart rate but strengthen your shoulders, arms and core.

1. Place both hands on the yoga mat shoulder-width apart with your feet together behind you, resting on the balls of your feet. This is your starting position.

2. Keeping your left foot on the floor, bend your right knee and bring it up into your chest. Then, extend your right leg back to return to the starting position.

3. Keeping your right foot on the floor, bend your left knee and bring it up into your chest.

4. Extend your left leg back to return to the starting position. Continue alternating between your legs in a fast motion for the specified number of repetitions.

Exercise: Butt Kicks - Kayla Itsines

Butt kicks

Butt kicks are a leg exercise that will improve your coordination. If you’re new to doing cardio exercises at home, this is a great exercise to try because it’s easy to get started and you don’t need much space. If you want to reduce the impact or the noise of your feet, stand on a mat. Butt kicks will help you build your fitness and confidence to try some of the more high-intensity jumping exercises! 

1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. This is your starting position. 

2. Keep your weight on your left leg and bend your right leg to raise your foot up to your glutes. Lower your right leg and place your foot on the floor. 

3. Keeping your weight on your right leg, bend your left leg to raise your foot to your glutes. Once you are comfortable with this movement, increase your speed so that you are hopping from one foot to the other. 

4. Continue alternating between your right and left leg.

Exercise: Step-Up with Knee Raise - Kayla Itsines

Step up with knee raise

This exercise requires a solid surface, such as a box, a step, or a sturdy chair.

1. Place a bench horizontally in front of you and plant both feet on the floor about shoulder-width apart. Firmly plant your entire left foot on the bench, ensuring that your knee is aligned with your toes. This is your starting position.

2. Push through the heel of your left foot, extending your leg so it is straight. Avoid pushing through your toes so you don’t put additional pressure on your shin and knee. As you extend your left leg, bend your right knee and draw up into your chest.

3. Extend and lower your right leg to return to the starting position. 

Exercise: BoxJump - Kelsey Wells

Box jumps

Box jumps raise your heart rate and build power through your legs. This exercise will strengthen your lower body, including your glutes, quads, calves and hamstrings. To do box jumps, you'll need a safe and solid surface to jump onto — such as a plyometric box, bench or step. If you don't have a sturdy surface, broad jumps are a great no-equipment alternative that requires you to jump (for distance) along the ground instead of up onto a box. 

1. Place a plyometric softbox directly in front of you. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. This is your starting position.

2. Inhale. Looking straight ahead, bend at your hips and knees, ensuring that your knees remain in line with your toes. Continue to bend your knees until your upper legs are parallel with the floor. Make sure your back remains within 45 to 90 degrees of your hips. This is called a squat position.

3. Exhale. Propel your body upwards and forwards, drawing your knees into your chest, landing in a squat position on top of the box. Ensure that you keep your knees ‘soft’ to avoid injury. Inhale. Push through your heels, extending your legs so you are in a standing position on top of the box.

4. Exhale. Carefully step backwards off the box, one foot at a time, and return to the starting position. 

Exercise: Jump Rope - Chontel Duncan

Jump rope

If you have a jump rope at home, skipping is an excellent way to get your heart rate up – it’s fun and has so many benefits! You can do a jump rope workout for beginners as a standalone workout, or add skipping as a single exercise to your overall routine. 

1. Stand with your feet slightly further than shoulder-width apart. Hold the rope by either handle, with the rope behind your feet.

2. Using your arms, swing the rope over your head and jump over it. 

3. Repeat.

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Getting started with cardio at home

Doing cardio at home can seem like a daunting task if you’ve never done it before — but an at-home cardio workout doesn’t have to be complicated. Choose a few of these exercises that you feel comfortable with to create your own circuit — or try this simple HIIT workout, which is a great starting point if you’re new to high-intensity cardio.

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* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.

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