41 Bodyweight cardio exercises to get your pulse racing
Who says you need loads of equipment or a session at the gym to get a great cardio workout? These 41 bodyweight cardio exercises can be carried out on the floor at home (or at the gym), helping build strength whilst raising your heart rate - win! Leave your running shoes by the door and get fit with these exercises.
#1. High Knees
This classic gym-class move is one we all learned at school - an oldie but a goodie! Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Raise your right knee as high as you can, then place your leg back down. Alternate legs - sort of like high leg marching - and do this for 30 seconds for a great warmup!
#2. Stair Climb
Stairs are a great way to get your heart rate up and endorphins flowing - just make sure you pick a quiet staircase! Briskly walk up and down until you work up a sweat - this is the perfect morning workout before you head for your desk!
#3. Power Skipping
Skipping is fun for all ages! Raise your right knee up towards your hip as you reach your left arm overhead. Land on the ball of your left foot, alternating the motion with the opposite arm and leg. Aim for 10 to 15 skips.
#4. Push Back
Standing up tall, bend over until your fingertips touch the floor (bend your knees a little, if you're not very flexible). Now, slowly walk your hands forward and keep your legs straight until you're in push-up position. Now take tiny 'steps' backwards with your hands until they reach your feet as you come back up. Aim for 4 to 6 reps.
#5. Jumping Jack
Jumping jacks are a classic move that work really well for warm-ups, getting your blood flowing and heart rate pumping. Stand with your feet together, hands at your sides and make sure you keep your core muscles engaged. Now, jump both legs out to the sides, slightly wider than hip-width, as you raise your arms overhead. Bend your knees as you jump once more, bringing your feet together and arms down. Aim for 20 to 30 jumps - feel the burn!
#6. Butt Kick
Kick your butt into action with this move! Jog on the spot; as you do so, start kicking your heels back towards your butt, working your glutes. Drive the movement from your hamstrings and aim to keep going for one minute!
Lift your heels off the ground in a quick shuffling motion (about an inch or so) as you keep your upper body relaxed. Move back and forth or shuffle on the spot!
#8. Leg Bounding
You'll need some space for this move. Stand up tall and reach your right knee forward, lifting your hip as you jump off your left leg as far forward as you can. Land on your right leg and continue to alternate legs. Aim for 10 reps.
Full Body Moves
Burpees - the exercise we love to hate! If you don't know how to do them, you'll love us forever once we explain... Begin in a low squat position, hands on the floor. Now, kick your feet back into a push-up position and quickly return to the squat position. Jump up as high as you can before squatting again and jumping into the next push-up position. Aim for 10 reps - they're tough!
#10. Push-Up Burpee
A more advanced burpee for serious burpee-lovers (we're just kidding - but it is a bit tougher). Start as you would for a normal burpee - once you reach the push-up position, do the push-up and then come back to the squat. We like to aim for 8 to10 reps.
#11. Flamingo Burpee
Once you're an expert at burpees, try this new move. Carry out a normal burpee but use one leg at a time - switch sides to make sure you're working out both legs.
#12. Mountain Climber
This is the next best thing to climbing Everest - only without the stunning views. Start on your hands and knees, bringing your right foot forward to your chest and keeping your left leg straight. Engage your core and quickly switch legs, keeping this going for 15 to 20 reps. Harder than it sounds!
#13. Plyometric Push-Up
This impressive push-up is a great way to show off your skills at the gym - it's also the ideal full-body cardio bodyweight exercise. Carry out a traditional push-up, and once you reach the top, push up to lift the body off the floor, for a second, before coming back down and straight into your next push-up. Don't try this one until you've mastered a basic push-up!
#14. Long Jump
This move is similar to leg bounding, but this time jump forward and reach forward with both legs and land on the floor with both feet simultaneously. We say aim for 10 reps in a row.
#15. Vertical Jump
Want to see how high you can jump? Ready? Stand up tall with your knees slightly bent. Use your arms to propel you, bend your knees and jump up high, extending your arms towards the ceiling. Repeat for 10 reps and get that Friday feeling!
#16. Diver's Push-Up
Start this move in downward-facing dog position, keeping your arms firmly on the ground and your eyes on the floor. In one smooth motion, move your hips down towards the floor as your chest rises (sort of like a bridge) and your back begins to arch - you should now be looking at the ceiling. Then move your hips back down, continuing for 15 reps.
#17. Knee-Tuck Jump
Stand up tall with your knees slightly bent. Now jump up, tucking your knees into your chest as you extend your arms straight out in front of your body. Lower your arms when you hit the floor again and aim for 8 to 10 reps.
#18. Plank Push-Up
Start this move in a plank position, forearms on the ground. Now lift into a push-up position and then back down into a plank position. Try to aim for 10 to 15 reps, alternating the arm that moves first for a well-rounded workout.
#20. Side Shuffles
Introduce some sideways movement into your workout with this move. Stand up tall and shuffle one leg out to the side, then replace the leg in the middle with the other leg and shuffle the other way. Stay on your toes and move quickly throughout.
#21. Box Jump
You'll need a sturdy box that's high enough for you to land on top - flimsy boxes are a no-no! Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and bend your knees, jumping up onto the box. Stabilise yourself and then step back down and repeat for 8 to 10 reps.
#22. Single-Leg Box Jump
Mastered the two-legged box jump? Then give this move a go - start with a slightly lower box to make sure you don't lose your balance! It's the same move, but you jump up onto the box one leg at a time.
#23. Single-Leg Hop
Stand on one leg, then jump forward and land on the same leg. With every forward jump, switch legs, aiming for 10 to 15 leaps in total.
#24. Frog Jump
Kermit would be proud of those who master this jump! Start by squatting down and touch the ground with both hands, keeping your arms straight. Jump into the air, raising your knees as high as you can, before coming back down (like a frog!) We suggest 10 to 12 reps, or as many as you can manage.
#25. Lunge Jump
Start with your feet together and lunge your right foot forward, bending your knee at a 90 degree angle. Jump straight up and switch legs in the air, landing in a lunge with your left foot forward. Aim for 8 to 10 reps.
#26. Squat Thrust
Start by performing a normal bodyweight squat, with your heels on the ground and your hips and knees bent. Jump up at the bottom of the squat, extending your arms overhead and aim for 10 to 15 reps.
#27. Quick Step-Ups
You'll need a sturdy surface like a low step or bench. Step your right foot onto it and rise up until your left leg is straight. Push from your right hamstring and glutes then return back down. Try for 10 reps.
#28. Skaters with Touch Down
Want to look like a speed skater (minus the skates)? This move is similar to the earlier side shuffle, but it gets your upper body involved too. Shuffle one leg out to the side then take your other leg behind that leg - at the same time, touch the floor with the opposite hand to the side you're moving towards. Switch sides and repeat in the other direction.
This tough move really works your leg muscles, in particular your thighs. Start in a deep squat position and let your arms hang down between your legs. Now explode forwards, like a kangaroo! Bounce forwards like a kangaroo, gaining as much height as you can between jumps. Keep your chest up and your back flat throughout.
#30. Hip Thrust
Hip thrusts are an exercise designed to strengthen the glutes and hips. You need to make sure you do it properly for optimum results! Lie with your back on the ground, arms straight down by your sides and feet on the floor, knees bent. Keeping your upper back and shoulders on the floor, thrust your hips up, keeping a bend in your knees and your feet on the ground. Hold for a count of three, then lower and repeat - aim for 20 reps.
#31. Single Hip Thrust
If you've mastered the hip thrust, make it a bit more interesting by performing the same move with just one leg at a time - as you thrust your hips up, extend one leg up and straight out in front of you. Hold then lower and switch to the other leg. Try for 15 to 20 reps.
#32. Plie Squat Jump
Standing with your legs about two feet apart, turn your toes out and place your hands on your hips. Now rise up onto your toes, bend your knees and sit back as you lower yourself until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Jump up, moving your feet to hip-width apart and landing softly on your toes. That's one rep, now aim for 15 to 20!
Arms and Abs
#33. Flutter Kick
Kick up the pace with this great little move. Lie on your back with your legs extended, arms at your sides. Now lift your heels about six inches off the floor and start kicking up and down. Keep your core engaged as you kick and aim for one minute of kicks.
#34. Fighting Fit
This kick-ass boxing move is a great one to tone your core and arms. Stand tall, feet shoulder-width apart, and keep your right leg slightly in front of your left. Raise your fists up, elbows in, as if you're about to fight. Punch the fist nearest your body out in front of you, rotate your torso and repeat around 10 times before switching leg stance and arms.
Get into the same stance as for fighting fit, and punch your back fist upwards, aiming for the sky. Keep going for around 30 seconds (we like to pretend we're in Mortal Kombat.....)
#36. Star Jump Planks
Begin in a traditional plank position, keeping your body in a straight line and your shoulder over your wrists, and keep your feet together. Then do star jumps with your legs - out to the sides then back together. That's one rep. Aim for 12 to 15!
#37. Tabata Crunch
These crunches will get your heart pounding and your endorphins flowing. aim for 20 seconds of crunches, followed by 10 seconds of rest, and 8 sets. Keeping your knees bent and feet on the floor, peel your head and shoulders slowly off the ground until your upper back is lifted. Keep your core engaged and your lower back pressed into the ground. Hold for a second then lower slowly back down.
It's like going for a ride, without ever leaving the house! Lie down on your back, tucking your knees in towards your chest, hands behind your head. Now bring your right elbow towards your left knee and simultaneously straighten your right leg. Start pedaling as if you were on a bike, alternating sides for 30 reps.
#39. Running Sit-Up
Get ahead of the competition with this great move! Lie on your back and extend your legs, keeping your arms by your sides and your elbows bent to a 90-degree angle. Sit up, bringing your right knee towards your left elbow. Now continue alternating sides and aim for 15 to 20 reps as you gather speed!
Russians are great for targeting your obliques and strengthening your back. Sit on the ground, knees bent and your heels about a foot from your butt. Lean back slightly, keeping your spine straight. This is difficult to do! Now place your arms straight out in front of you, hands one on top of the other. Hold your hands roughly level with the bottom of your ribcage as you pull your bellybutton into your spine and twist slowly to the left. Don't swing your arms - this controlled movement comes from your ribs rotating. Inhale as you come back to the centre and then twist to the right. That's one rep! Aim for 16.
#41. Pendulum Swings
Hopping on the spot can give you great results. Swing your legs back and forth (like a pendulum), alternating which leg supports your body as you hop. Try breaking up the monotony by mixing it up a little - two hops on one leg , two alternating single leg hops etc.
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