You already know that cardio is good for you. Research has long shown that revving your heart rate regularly can keep your cells and blood sugar healthy, strengthen your ticker, boost your mood, and so so much more. Luckily, reaping the benefits is super simple; like, “don’t even have to leave the house” simple. Even without any equipment (or even all that much space), you can score a killer cardio workout at home with just a few moves.
My go-to bodyweight exercises light up all of the major muscle groups and get my heart pumping. In addition to boosting cardiovascular endurance (meaning I can keep sweating for longer), they also develop agility (which is key for feeling quick and athletic) and core strength (a must-have for anyone who wants to be all-around fitter).
Though these moves are totally beginner-friendly, make sure to keep your core engaged, back straight, and to land from any jumps with bent knees, toes facing forward, and ankles flexed.
You can use these cardio moves to add a little extra intensity to any workout at the gym — or string them together to create your own home cardio workout. Depending on the rest of your workout routine, I recommend doing a DIY home cardio workout at least three times a week.
Here’s how to turn my go-to moves into a quick (but sweaty) cardio session you can do from your living room with just a timer — and zero equipment.
Time: 10–15 minutes
Good for: cardio, core, lower body, shoulders
Instructions: Choose 3 to four exercises from the list below. Perform each for 30 seconds to one minute, then continue onto the next. Once you’ve finished all exercises, rest for 15 to 30 seconds, then repeat for 3 to 4 total rounds.
1. Lateral High Knees
How to: Start standing on left leg (knee slightly bent) at bottom of mat facing sideways, right leg bent with knee in line with hip, left arm straight and side, and right arm bent, hand in front of chest. Step right foot out and down to the floor while picking left knee up to hip height and switching arm positions. Continue alternating feet while moving to the right for three high knees then reverse the movement to return to start. Continue alternating until time runs out.
Modifications: Slow this exercise down to nail proper form before speeding up your hop-steps.
How to: From a standing position, shift weight into left foot and reach right hand down to the floor while bending right knee to hover bent right leg behind left leg. Torso should be parallel to the floor and right arm extended straight out at shoulder height. That’s your starting position. Push through left foot to jump laterally to the right, while switching arms to land with right foot planted, left leg bent and hovering behind right, and left fingers touching the ground. Continue alternating until time runs out.
Modifications: To make this move easier on your balance, tap back toes to the floor instead of hovering foot.
3. Fast Feet With Punches
How to: Start standing with feet slightly wider than hips, knees softly bent, and arms bent with fists up at chin height. Take small, quick, alternating steps with feet while at the same time, extending arms in an alternating pattern to perform quick punches. Continue alternating until time runs out.
Modifications: To nail the coordination required for this one, start with either just the fast feet or punches.
4. Tuck Jumps
How to: Start standing with feet under hips and elbows bent so hands are straight in front of chest, palms facing down. Engage core, squat down slightly, and push off the floor with both feet to jump upwards, lifting knees to tap hands at the top of the movement. Land softly with a slight bend in knees. Continue jumping until time runs out.
5. 180 Squat Jumps
How to: Start in a squat position with butt back, thighs about parallel to floor, back flat, and arms bent with fists up at chin height. Push through feet and extend arms and legs to jump up off the ground while turning 180 degrees to land in a squat position facing the opposite direction. Continue moving back and forth until time runs out.
Modifications: Can’t quite jump the full 180 degrees? Break this move down into two 90-degree squat jumps in order to turn completely around instead.
6. Reverse Lunges with Knee Drives
How to: Start in a low lunge position with right foot forward and left back, both bent at 90 degrees, torso parallel to floor, right hand on right thigh, and left arm extended, fingertips on mat. Push through right leg to take small jump up into air, lifting left knee off the floor and driving it toward chest, while swinging bent right arm forward until elbow is in line with shoulder. Reverse the movement to return to start. Perform five, then switch sides, and continue alternating until time runs out.
Modifications: Keep this one simple by skipping the jump at the top of the move and just coming up to stand and balance on right leg.
7. Plank Knee Tucks
How to: Start in a plank position with hands below shoulders. Push down into hands to lift hips up and back while bending left leg and pulling left knee in toward chest. Reverse the movement to return to plank position, then repeat with the other leg. Continue alternating until time runs out.
Modifications: Scale this move down by skipping the knee drives and shifting just upper body and hips back.
8. Cross Mountain Climbers
How to: Start in a plank position with hands below shoulders. Keeping upper body stable, bend right leg and pull right knee towards left arm. Reverse the movement to return to plank position, then repeat with the other leg. Continue alternating until time runs out.
Modifications: Keep this one slow and controlled to nail your form before speeding up your cross-body knee drives.
9. Roll-Up Jumps
How to: Start seated, knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and arms extended at sides just behind butt with palms pressed into mat, fingertips facing forward. Then, roll back onto shoulders, lift hips off the mat, and extend legs straight up in the air. Using momentum, roll forward, bending legs to return feet to the floor, and pushing through soles to stand and jump straight up off floor, keeping arms extended at sides. Land with bent knees. That’s one rep
This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com