Who said it’d be impossible to get in a great cardio workout on the gym (or living room!) floor? Performing higher-intensity bodyweight exercises can be an effective way to build strength while also raising the heart rate. To kill two birds with one stone, leave the running sneaks and swimming goggles behind and give these 35 cardio-based strength exercises a go!
1. Power Skip
Skipping isn’t just for kids. Raise the right knee up towards the hip while reaching your left arm overhead. Land on the ball of your left foot, and then alternate the skipping motion with the opposite arm and leg. Shoot for 10-15 skips as high as you can go.
2. Stair Climb
Think of stairs as the cardio equipment in any building. For a great way to get the heart rate up, briskly walk up and down a stairway until you start to sweat. To avoid any dizzy spells, make sure to travel the whole stairwell to limit the amount of turn-arounds. Pro-tip: Skip the elevator when going to work and sneak in a workout before getting into the office!
(Get your free daily workout today. Sign up here)
3. High Knees
Stand tall with your feet hip-distance apart. Raise up your right knee as high as it’ll go, and then place the leg back down. Alternate legs and start picking up the pace. Try this jig for 30 seconds straight.
It really is a Bug’s Life. Stand tall, and bend over until your fingertips are on the floor. Next, walk the hands forward while keeping the legs straight until you’ve reached a traditional push-up position. Finish off the move by taking tiny steps to get your feet back up to your hands. Repeat for 4-6 reps.
5. Alternate-Leg Bounding
Find a flat straightaway (like a hallway or a track) for some space to move forward. Standing tall, reach your right knee forward and lift your hip, jumping off the left leg as far forward as possible. Land on the right leg and continue this movement, alternating legs. Try to jump forward for 10 hops total.
6. Butt Kick
These will literally kick your butt—in a good way. Jog in place while kicking your heels back towards your glutes. Make sure the movement is being driven from your hamstrings (not just your feet kicking up dust). Keep it up for a minute straight while picking up the pace!
7. Jumping Jack
This classic cardio move is a great way to warm up. Start with your feet together and hands at your sides, keeping the core engaged. Next, jump both legs out to the side (wider than your hips) while raising your arms overhead. Keep your knees bent as you jump again to bring your feet back together and arms down. That’s one. Now see what 20-30 feels like!
8. Foot Fire
Things are really heating up now. In a quick, shuffle motion, lift the heels off the ground (only about an inch tops) while keeping the upper body relaxed. You can shuffle in place or move back in forth—your call!
9. Mountain Climber
We’re not going up any real mountains, but these are a close second. Start down on your hands and knees, and bring the right foot forward to the chest while the left leg remains straight. Engaging the core,quickly switch legs, and keep this rhythm going for 15-20 reps.
10. Plank to Push-up
Begin in a plank position with your forearms on the ground. Then, lift into a push-up position (one hand at a time, of course!) and quickly move back down into a plank position. Continue for 10-15 reps, while remembering to alternate the arm that makes the first move.
11. Tuck Jump
It’s time to catch some air. Stand up tall with the knees slightly bent and jump up—bringing the knees into the chest and extending the arms straight out in front of the body. Lower the arms when you hit the floor. Aim for 8-10 reps.
12. Basic Burpee
This move is something we all love to hate. Start in a low squat position with your hands on the floor. Then, kick your feet back to a push-up position and quickly return to the squat position. Last step? Jump up as high as possible before squatting down again and jumping back into the next push-up position. Shoot for 10 strong reps.
13. Push-up Burpee
This move is just like the basic burpee that’s a bit more advanced. Begin like normal, but once you reach the push-up position, actually do the push-up before coming back up to the squat. Shoot for 8-10 of these bad boys.
14. Plyometric Push-up
Think of this as a push-up that’ll impress anyone at the gym. At the top of a traditional push-up, push up with force to lift the body off the floor (for just a sec!) before coming back down and going straight into the next push-up. Just remember: If you’re still struggling with the basic push-up, best to stick to the basics!
15. Diver’s Push-up
Begin in a down-dog position with your arms firmly on the ground and gaze toward the floor. In a controlled and fluid motion, swoop the hips towards the floor while your chest rises. Keep moving until your back is arched and your gaze is towards the ceiling. Then swoop back down, continuing this motion for 10-15 reps.
16. Long Jump
This move isn’t just a track and field event. Similar to the alternate leg bounding, jump forward in a continuous motion, but reach forward with both legs and have both feet land on the floor at the same time. Try for 10 in a row.
17. Single-Leg Burpee
Mastered the basic burpee? Then try this fancy (and doable!) move. What it entails: Completing a normal burpee but using one leg at a time. Don’t forget to switch sides to feel the burn on both legs.
18. Vertical Jump
The goal here is simple enough: Try to jump up as high as possible. (And no, you don’t have to be a Pro baller to do so!). Stand up straight with a slight bend in the knees. Then, using your arms to propel you upwards, bend the knees and jump up while extending the arms towards the ceiling. Repeat for 10 reps.
19. Invisible Jump Rope
Hop over an invisible rope (no need to jump more than an inch or two off the ground) by staying on your toes and pushing off with the balls of your feet. Make quick, small movements with your wrists as if you’re holding a rope, and go crazy for 60 seconds.
20. Squat Jump
Perform a normal bodyweight squat (keeping the heels on the ground while bending the hips and knees until the thighs are parallel to the floor). Jump up immediately at the bottom of the squat and extend your arms overhead. Aim for 10-15 reps.
21. Single-Leg Box Jump
Is the two-legged box jump child’s play? Then try the same move, but explode onto the box one leg at a time. (Note: Be sure to start with a lower-raised box to make sure you’ve got the coordination down!)
22. Box Jump
Stand in front of a sturdy box that’s just high enough so you can land on top with enough effort (but without missing your target!). With feet shoulder-width apart, bend the knees and then explode up onto the box. Secure your landing and then step back down and repeat for 6-10 reps.
The film was great, but the move may be even better. Find an elevated, sturdy surface (like a bench) and step the right foot on it. Rise up until the left leg is straight, making sure the power is coming from the right hamstring and glute. Return back down. Continue for 10 reps, then switch.
24. Single-Leg Hop
Embrace that inner Roger Rabbit and get hopping. Standing on one leg, jump forward and land on the same leg. Switch legs with every jump as you move forward, leaping 10-15 times in total per rep.
25. Frog Jump
This is no easy task, even for Kermit. Begin by squatting down and touching the ground with both your hands, while keeping your arms straight. Then jump into the air, raising your knees as high as possible before coming back down. Shoot for 10-12 reps.
26. Skater’s Lunge
Begin with your legs a bit wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointing forward. Lowering into an athletic stance, slide to the left into a side lunge with your hands on the left knee. Then move quickly over to the right side, repeating the motion. Go back and forth for 45-60 seconds like you’re a skating on thin ice. (Lose the kicks and go socks-only to help you slide!)
27. Lateral Stepover
Find a bench and stand to its side with the right leg closer to the bench. Lift your right knee up and bring the leg over the bench, notstepping on it. Then lift your left leg to meet the right, bringing the feet together before moving back—left leg first this time. Go to step city for 15-20 reps.
28. Lunge Jump
The only thing more fun than a lunge is catching some air in between. Start standing with the feet together and lunge the right foot forward, bending the knee about 90-degrees. Then it gets fun:Jump straight up, and while in the air, switch legs and land in a lunge with the left foot forward. Try for 8-10 reps (or as many as you can do with good form).
Arms and Core
29. Jumping Jack Planks
There are planks, and then there are planks with pop! Start in a traditional plank (shoulders over the wrists and the body in one straight line), but keep the feet together. Then, simply do jumping jacks with the legs, moving them out to the sides, then back together. Aim for 12-15 hops (out and in is one!).
30. Power Punch
It’s time to bring the boxing-ring a little closer to home. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and the right leg a few inches in front of the left. Raise the fists up and keep the elbows in. Punch the fist closest to your body in front of you, while rotating the torso. Give a good 10 punches before switching arms and leg stance.
31. Flutter Kick
Time to kick up the cardio—literally. Lie down on your back with your arms at your sides and legs extended. Then, lift your heels off the floor (about six inches) and begin kicking up and down. Try to keep this up for a minute, and remember to keep the core engaged!
Need another boxing move? Get into the same stance with one leg slightly in front of the other, but punch the back fist upward, as if you’re aiming for the sky. Keep this motion going for 30 seconds, or switch it up and add the power punch for a one-two combo move!
Lie down on your back with knees in towards your chest and hands behind your head. Bring your right elbow towards the left knee while the right leg simultaneously straightens. Alternate sides just like you’re pedaling on a bike and pedal out for 30 reps.
34. Tabata Crunch
Who says a crunch can’t get the heart rate up? Do these crunches cardio-style with a 4-minute ab session (that’s 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off, 8 times through). And for form? Keep your knees bent, feet on the floor, and peel the head and shoulders off the ground until the upper back is lifted. Hold for a second before lowering slowly back down.
35. Sprinter Sit-up
It turns out there’s a way to gain some speed while staying on the ground. Lie down on your back with the legs extended, arms by your side, and elbows bent at 90-degrees. Now, sit up and bring the right knee towards the left elbow. Continue to alternate sides to really feel the heat. Be a speed demon for 15-20 reps.