These At-Home Cardio Workouts Require Zero Equipment

Lockdown has made home-based cardio workouts a must, but so too can iffy weather, a busy day and life in general. All is not lost.


By Kiera Carter |

Yes, you need to ride to become a better cyclist. But sometimes the weather sucks or your bike is in the shop, or the world is in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, and you can’t always get out for a safe solo ride.

Not all cardio is lost, though. There are plenty of at-home cardio exercises that don’t require equipment and that makes it easy to spike your heart-rate anytime, anyplace. Plus, there’s even reason to make your Plan-B workout your Plan A from time to time: Mixing up your movement patterns can strengthen muscles you don’t normally use, and perhaps to your surprise, offer a greater cardio boost than a moderate cycling workout.

“Mixing up your cardio can strategically target your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, core, and hip muscles, all crucial muscles that can help your riding,” says Dennys Lozada, NASM-certified personal trainer, and trainer at Fhitting Room and EverybodyFights in New York City. Plus, if you go the HIIT route, you can score a serious calorie burn and boost your cardiovascular conditioning, Lozada adds.

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That’s where these at-home cardio exercises come in. Lozada included a high-impact workout for max benefits, along with a low-impact version that’s easier on your joints. Both will spike your heart rate and make you sweat—without even leaving the house.

How to use this list: The exercises below are demonstrated by Lozada himself so you can learn the proper form. If you want to avoid impact, opt for the low-impact routine, and follow the instructions below. If impact isn’t an issue, opt for the high-impact routine or combine all the moves and follow the instructions below. These exercises can also be paired with any other cardio machine of your choice—a treadmill, indoor bike, elliptical, etc.—to create one killer at-home cardio workout. An exercise mat is optional.

At-Home Cardio Workout: Low Impact

Perform each exercise for 30 to 60 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of rest. Repeat four times. Once you master the perfect form, perform each rep as fast as possible to keep your heart rate up.

1. Air Squat

Stand with feet just wider than shoulder-width apart, toes turned slightly out, and hands clasped in front of chest. Send hips back to drop down to a squat position. Straighten legs to return to standing, keeping chest lifted and without rounding your back. Repeat.

2. Alternating Reverse Lunge

Start in standing position, with hands clasped in front of the chest, then step left leg straight back and drop down to a lunge position, legs bent at 90-degree angles. Push through the right heel to return the left leg to start. Repeat on the other side. Continue to alternate between left and right legs, going as fast as possible.

3. Mountain Climbers

Assume a high plank position, hands beneath shoulders, body forming a straight line parallel to the floor. Drive right knee toward chest. As you return right leg to starting position, drive left knee toward chest. Continue to alternate as fast as possible without stopping.

4. Forearm Plank

These At-Home Cardio Exercise Require No EquipmentStart on all fours then lower onto your forearms and step both feet back into a forearm plank with elbows directly beneath shoulders, and core engaged so body forms a straight line parallel to the floor. Hold, activating your core and glutes, and keeping back straight.

5. Walking Plank

Start in a high plank position with hands directly beneath shoulders, and core and glutes engaged so body forms a straight line parallel to the floor. Lower each elbow to ground to drop into a forearm plank. “Walk” each hand back up to return to a high plank position. Repeat.

At-Home Cardio Workout: High Impact

Perform each exercise for 3o to 60 seconds, followed by 10 to 20 seconds of rest. Repeat five times. Once you master the perfect form, perform each rep as fast as possible to keep your heart rate up.

1. High Knees

Start standing and hold both hands out, palms down. Drive right knee to right palm. Immediately drive left knee to left palm as you return right leg to starting position. Stay light on your toes and the balls of your feet. Continue to repeat as fast as possible.

2. Alternating Jump Lunge

Start in standing position, then step left leg straight back and lower into a lunge position, legs bent at 90-degree angles. Jump six inches off ground, switching legs in air as you lower back down to lunge position. Continue to alternate between left and right legs as fast as possible. You can pump your arms as if you’re running for extra momentum.

3. Squat Thrust

Start standing then send hips back and lower down into a deep squat with chest lifted, hands on the floor between legs, and butt lower than knees. Shift weight to hands then jump feet back behind you to come into a high plank position. Quickly jump feet back to hands to return to a deep squat with chest lifted. Straighten legs to stand. Continue to repeat as fast as possible.

4. Push-Up to Knee Touch

Start in a high plank position with wrists directly under shoulders, core and glutes engaged so body forms a straight line from head to heels. Bend elbows to lower chest to floor to perform a push-up. Press back up to high plank, then bend left knee to touch right palm. Return left foot and right hand to start and repeat the push-up. Touch right knee to left palm. Continue to repeat.

5. Quadruped Hold to Shoulder Tap

Start on all fours with wrists directly under shoulders and knees directly under hips, legs bet to 90 degrees. Using your core, lift knees up to hover about six inches above the floor (also called a bear plank). Draw right hand to tap left shoulder. Return right hand to the floor, then use the left hand to tap right shoulder. Continue to repeat.

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