Getting in shape and improving your cardiovascular health doesn’t require expensive gym memberships or fancy equipment. There are many highly effective cardio workouts you can do right in the comfort of your own home.
Whether you’re just starting your fitness journey or you’re looking to take your cardio routine to the next level, this guide provides 12 home cardio workouts for every skill level. Ranging from beginner to advanced, these no-equipment cardio exercises will get your heart pumping and help you burn calories and fat.
Benefits of Cardio Exercise
Before jumping into the workouts, let’s first go over some of the major benefits of doing regular cardio exercise:
- Improves heart health – Cardio exercise strengthens your heart muscle and improves circulation. It also lowers blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Aids weight loss – Cardio is one of the most effective ways to burn calories and body fat. The more intense the workout, the more calories you’ll burn.
- Increases endurance – Regular cardio workouts boost your overall stamina and endurance. You’ll be able to work harder for longer.
- Reduces stress – Cardio releases endorphins which are chemicals that improve mood and reduce stress.
- Boosts energy – Raising your heart rate increases blood flow, and oxygen circulation, and energizes your body.
- Strengthens lungs – Cardio improves lung capacity and efficiency, allowing you to work out longer.
Now that you know the many benefits of cardio exercise, let’s get to the workouts! The following 12 home cardio routines range from beginner-friendly to high-intensity advanced sessions. Try them all out and mix up your routine to see results.
Beginner Cardio Workouts
If you’re new to exercise or getting back into shape, start with these beginner-friendly cardio workouts. They are low-impact and focus on raising your heart rate.
Walking is one of the simplest yet effective cardiovascular exercises. It gets your blood pumping without putting stress on your joints.
How to: Go for a 30-60 minute walk outdoors or on a treadmill. Maintain a brisk walking pace that raises your heart rate. Pump your arms back and forth. For extra burn, incorporate short 1-minute intervals of fast walking throughout your route.
Make it harder: Walk on an incline or use small hand weights while pumping your arms.
Jogging is an excellent beginner cardio workout that torches calories. It utilizes all the major muscle groups.
How to: Jog outside or on a treadmill for 20-30 minutes. Start with 1-2 minute jogging intervals then take short 15-30 second walking breaks in between to catch your breath. Increase the jogging duration and decrease walking time as your endurance improves. Focus on proper form – keep your head up, back straight, and strike the ground with your mid-foot.
Make it harder: Lengthen jogging intervals, and incorporate hills or speed bursts.
- Jump Rope
Jump roping is a fun, portable cardio workout that burns a lot of calories in a short time.
How to: Jump slowly at first, alternating feet as you turn the rope. Do 100-200 jumps total, taking breaks as needed. Improve coordination by practicing single and double unders.
Make it harder: Do intervals of fast and slow jumps. Throw in crossovers, running on the spot, and other footwork.
- Kettlebell Swings
Kettlebell swings work your cardiovascular system with a strength training crossover. Use a lighter weight to start.
How to: With both hands, hold a kettlebell by the handle at waist height. Squat then forcefully swing the kettlebell between your legs, fully extending your hips to eye level. Control the descent. Do 10-15 reps x 3-5 sets. Keep proper form and don’t use momentum.
Make it harder: Use a heavier kettlebell, increase reps, or add swing variations like a single arm.
Burpees combine cardio and full-body strength training. They get your heart pumping!
How to: From standing, squat down and place both hands on the floor. Kick your legs back into a push-up position. Do 1 push up then immediately return feet to squat position. Leap up explosively, reaching arms overhead. Do 10-15 reps x 3-5 sets.
Make it harder: Add a tuck jump after the leap or increase the number of pushups.
Intermediate Cardio Workouts
Ready to take it to the next level? These intermediate cardio workouts will challenge your body and get your heart racing.
Whether on a stationary bike or using an upright exercise bike, cycling is an effective cardio workout suitable for intermediate exercisers. It’s low-impact too.
How to: Cycle at a moderate resistance for 30-60 minutes. Maintain a pace that keeps your heart rate elevated in the 120-150 bpm range but one that you can sustain for the duration. Use different resistances and speeds throughout the workout. Stand up periodically.
Make it harder: Increase resistance, do intervals with high-intensity 1-minute sprints every 5 minutes.
Rowing machines provide an intense full-body cardio workout that hits the arms, legs, core, and back. Adjust resistance to make it as challenging as needed.
How to: Row for 2000-4000 meters, taking 1-2 minute breaks as needed. Control the leg push and arm pull so you don’t use momentum or strain your back. Engage your core and maintain a proper upright posture. Breathe deeply. Use different stroke rates – 20 for warm up then intensify to 24-30 strokes per minute.
Make it harder: Row longer distances, do interval training alternating hard and easy 500-meter sets.
- Jump Lunges
Jump lunges will spike your heart rate while sculpting your lower body. Use them in high-intensity intervals.
How to: Get into a lunge position, left leg forward, right leg back. Engage core then explosively switch legs, jumping up and switching midair. Land softly in a lunge position with right leg forward. Do 10 alternating jump lunge reps. Do 3-5 sets.
Make it harder: Hold weights in each hand, do more sets/reps, or add squat jumps after lunges.
- Mountain Climbers
Mountain climbers burn fat and get your heart pumping fast. They hit the legs, core, and arms.
How to: Start in a high plank position. Keep hands under shoulders, back flat and core braced. Raise right knee to chest then quickly switch legs, raising left knee. Move legs rapidly like running. Do 3 sets x 60 seconds each.
Make it harder: Move your legs faster or do a moving plank traveling forward and backward.
- High Knees
This explosive cardio exercise works the legs, glutes, core, and hip flexors. Get those knees up!
How to: Stand with feet hip-width apart. Drive the right knee up towards the chest, quickly switching to raise the left knee. Pump arms back and forth. Perform for 45-90 seconds straight. Repeat 2-3 times.
Make it harder: Hold weights in each hand, and drive your knees up explosively.
Advanced Cardio Workouts
Take your cardio routines to new heights with these advanced high-intensity workouts. Get ready to max out your heart rate!
- Plyo Lunges
Plyo lunges combine explosive plyometric and lunge strength training for an intense cardio workout. They torch calories!
How to: Start in a staggered stance, right foot forward in a lunge position. Bend both knees. Explosively push off and leap straight up, switching legs in mid-air. Land softly in a lunge with left foot forward. Repeat jumping and switching legs. Do 3 sets x 15 reps on each side.
Make it harder: Add weights to hands or feet to increase resistance.
- Jump Squats
Jump squats are killer cardio and lower body toner. Be ready to max out your heart rate!
How to: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Explosively jump with arms overhead. Land softly and immediately squat then jump again. Do 3 sets x 20 reps.
Make it harder: Hold dumbbells in each hand.
Bonus: Tabata Workouts
An excellent way to take any basic cardio exercise to the next level is to use the Tabata interval timing protocol.
Tabata intervals are 20 seconds of maximum effort followed by 10 seconds of rest, done 8 times for a total of just 4 minutes.
Try Tabata intervals with any of these exercises:
- Jumping jacks
- Squat jumps
- High knees running
- Mountain climbers
- Kettlebell swings
Tabata training spikes your heart rate fast while promoting cardio endurance – it’s perfect for advanced exercisers!
Mix Up Your Cardio Workouts
Variety is key when it comes to cardio. Don’t just stick to the same routine day after day. Mix up the duration, intensity, and exercises to keep your body guessing. Some good ways to introduce variety:
- Combine cardio types into circuits – mix aerobic, interval, and strength exercises.
- Alternate high-intensity days with lower-intensity cardio sessions.
- Include cardio warm-ups before strength training or circuits.
- Occasionally go for longer 60+ minute endurance sessions.
- Add incline, sprints, or speed bursts to walking/running routines.
- Use different equipment like bikes, rowers, and ropes.
- Take cardio outdoors to trails, tracks, stairwells, or hills.
Changing up your cardio workouts prevents plateaus while providing a fresh stimulus for your body and mind.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cardio Workouts at Home
What is the best cardio workout I can do at home?
The best home cardio workout for you depends on your current fitness level. Walking and jogging are excellent for beginners, while intermediate exercisers may opt for cycling, rowing machines, and plyometrics. Advanced fitness enthusiasts can try high-intensity Tabata interval training or heavy kettlebell swings to max out their heart rate. Mixing up the duration, intensity, and exercises is key.
How often should you do cardio workouts?
Aim to get in some form of cardio exercise 4-6 days per week, though this also depends on your goals. Going 7 days a week may lead to overtraining, so build in at least 1 rest day where you do light exercise or stretch/foam roll instead of intense cardio.
How long should you do cardio for weight loss?
For weight loss, aim for moderate-intensity cardio lasting 45-60 minutes most days of the week. This creates a solid calorie deficit. You can also opt for shorter 20-30 minute high-intensity interval training (HIIT) style cardio 3 times a week for similar fat-burning effects. Mixing up durations is best.
What should you eat before cardio?
Eat a light meal rich in carbs and protein 1-2 hours before cardio. Good pre-workout nutrition includes oatmeal with fruit, whole grain toast with nut butter, protein shake or bar, tuna and crackers, or fruit and yogurt. Avoid high-fat meals right before working out. Stay hydrated too!
Is cardio better in the morning or evening?
Cardio burns fat well any time of day! Morning cardio can boost your metabolism and energy for the entire day. Evening cardio helps relieve stress and promote sleep. Listen to your body – optimize times based on your schedule, energy levels, and preferences.
How can I make my cardio workouts more interesting?
First, change up your exercise routine regularly with new equipment, locations, and intervals. Second, make cardio more engaging by listening to great workout music, podcasts, or audiobooks. Exercising with a partner also makes cardio workouts more social and entertaining. Lastly, signing up for virtual races, classes or events adds fun goals.
What if cardio workouts hurt my knees or joints?
Low-impact cardio options like swimming, rowing machines, exercise bikes, and elliptical trainers are gentler on joints. Also, focus on proper stretching before and after workouts. Consider supplementing with joint support products. Losing excess body fat will also reduce joint pain over time. Consult a doctor if you have chronic joint pain.
How can I progress from beginner to advanced in cardio?
Start by establishing a base fitness level with easier cardio like walking. Slowly increase workout length, then introduce short intervals of higher intensities. Add in new equipment like ropes and kettlebells. Work towards sustaining longer durations of high-intensity cardio through HIIT and Tabata training. Listen to your body and focus on small progressive increases in challenge.
What equipment do I need for cardio at home?
No equipment is necessary! You can do highly effective cardio workouts using just your body weight. However, having some basic equipment can add variety and increase workout intensity. Good home options include jump ropes, exercise bikes, treadmills, ellipticals, rowing machines, kettlebells, and mini stair steppers.
I hope this comprehensive guide helps provide you with many cardio workout options to try at home! Let me know if you have any other questions. Ready to get that heart rate up? Let’s do this
There you have it – 12 fantastic cardio workouts you can do at home with no fancy equipment needed! From walking and jogging to kettlebells and PLYO lunges, these beginner to advanced routines will help you burn calories, shed fat, and improve your cardiovascular fitness fast. Mix up the workouts, use interval training principles, and keep your body guessing by trying new exercises.
Cardiovascular exercise provides so many benefits beyond just burning calories. It boosts lung capacity, endurance, circulation, mood, and energy levels. The key is consistency – aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise per week.
Pair your cardio workouts with proper nutrition and you’ll make great progress towards your fitness goals. Ready to break a sweat and get your heart pumping? Let’s do this! Which cardio routine will you start with?
Faizan Ahmad is a passionate medical writer and health enthusiast. He joined Quick Medico in 2023 as a place to provide reliable information and resources about health, diseases, and wellness topics.
Now as the editor-in-chief of Quick Medico, Faizan leads a team of experienced medical writers and health professionals. His goal is to make complex health topics easy to understand and provide readers with practical information to improve their health and well-being.
Outside of work, Faizan enjoys being in nature, reading non-fiction books, and spending time with friends and family. He brings his natural curiosity and passion for lifelong learning to every article he writes or edits for Quick Medico. Faizan lives in Islamabad, Pakistan, and looks forward to continuing to grow Quick Medico into a leading health information site that empowers readers to take control of their health.