Ever have a morning when you snooze past your gym alarm, but still want to squeeze in a quick workout? That’s where this no-equipment cardio workout comes in handy. All you need is a little space in your living room—and 20 minutes. This is a cardio workout, so we’re going to focus on getting your heart rate up. And since it’s relatively short, the idea is that you should push yourself. You can treat this no-equipment cardio workout like a HIIT workout, getting breathless for the work intervals, then taking full advantage of the rest.
One easy way to gauge how hard you’re working is to use ratings of perceived exertion, or RPEs. This is a simple scale of 1 to 10, where 1 means no effort and 10 means maximal effort—you couldn’t push yourself any harder. To think of this another way, use the “talk test.” This is just like it sounds: a measure of how easily you can speak while doing something. Low effort, when it’s easy to talk, might be a 1 to 3 on the RPE scale; medium effort, when you can still talk but it takes a bit more effort, might be a 3 to 5. When things get harder and you can really only puff out a few words at a time, you’re working at about a 5 to 7. And when you can no longer talk because you’re working so hard, you’re at a 7 to 10. Keep in mind that because RPEs are so subjective, what feels like a 6 one day might feel more like a 9 on another day, depending on all kinds of things, like your hydration, nutrition, or how much sleep you got the night before.
When doing the no-equipment cardio workout below, aim for about a 6 or 7 to start with and see how you feel. We’ve also provided three different work intervals below, so you can choose what’s best for you. Go for equal work and rest (30 seconds of work, 30 seconds of rest), or make it more intense. And hey, it’s totally okay to push yourself one day and then take it easy on another. Remember to do a quick dynamic warm-up before you start!
Do the moves below in order for your selected time interval, resting between moves for your selected rest interval. Do all 4 moves, then rest for 60 seconds. Repeat the circuit 4 times.
- Beginner: Work for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds
- Intermediate: Work for 40 seconds, rest for 20 seconds
- Advanced: Work for 50 seconds, rest for 10 seconds