30-Day Cardio Challenge

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Aerobic Exercise | Cardio Workouts | Best Jump Ropes | Best Compact Cardio Equipment | Best Cardio Machines | 30-Day Cardio Challenge

Wedding season, tropical vacation, jumpstarting your fitness, or just up for a good challenge—whatever your reasons, adding cardio to your daily routine can have positive effects on everything from your waistline to your state of mind.

It is easy to get bored doing the same exercises day after day. And we all know what happens when we get bored with exercise—it goes from cardio to cardi-no faster than Allyson Felix collects Olympic medals. However, with this challenge, you will get to sprinkle some seasoning on your workouts by adding some fun cardio exercises to your normal routine.

What to Expect

We are going to provide you with 30 days of aerobic exercises, instructions on how to perform them, and the number of reps or time frame for doing them. At the end of each week, we will take the movements presented over those seven days and combine them into an AMRAP (as many rounds as possible). We know that everyone's time is extremely valuable and therefore, none of these challenges will take more than 15 minutes to complete (with the vast majority taking 5-10 minutes).

All of these movements are written to be performed with just body weight. Of course, if your fitness level allows, you can add in some weight by performing movements such as box step-ups and man-makers with dumbbells or kettlebells, but there is no need to do so to get some solid add-on work to your cardio routine. For the most part, you'll just need a solid pair of training shoes and your workout attire of choice to be on your way. The movements will become slightly more complex as they progress, and you will notice that some of the later exercises build on earlier ones.

Although not mandatory—we're not your boss or your mom—it is recommended that you record the days that you complete the assigned exercise. Also, some of our exercises build on others and you may like to see how they are the same and how they are different.

Day 1: Up-Downs

  1. Start in an upright position with your feet hip-width apart, your legs straight, and your arms hanging by your sides.
  2. Bend forward and place your hands on the floor as you jump or step your feet back to a plank position (only your hands and toes should be touching the floor).
  3. Jump or step your feet back to the starting position and return to standing.

Challenge: Perform 8 up-downs at the beginning of every minute for 5 minutes total.

Day 2: Jumping Jacks

  1. Start in an upright position with your feet together, your legs straight, and your arms hanging by your sides.
  2. Jump your legs out while simultaneously bringing your arms above your head, keeping a slight bend in your elbows.
  3. Bring your legs and arms back to the original position.

Challenge: Perform as many jumping jacks as you can in 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. Repeat for 5 minutes.

Day 3: Vertical Jumps

  1. Start in an upright position with your feet shoulder-width apart, your legs bent at the knees, and your arms hanging by your sides.
  2. Swing your arms back behind you, and then swing them forward to bring them over your head.
  3. As you are bringing your arms over your head, use the momentum to help you jump straight up in the air.
  4. Land with your knees slightly bent.

Challenge: From 0:00 to 1:00 perform 2-3 vertical jumps. Rest from 1:00-2:00. From 2:00-3:00 perform 2-3 vertical jumps. Repeat the pattern until you have performed 10-12 vertical jumps.

jumps

Day 4: High Knees

  1. Start in an upright position with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Alternate bringing your knees up in line with your waist, or as high as possible.
  3. Gradually increase your speed until you're running in place.

Challenge: For 20 seconds, perform high knees, then rest for 10 seconds. Repeat for 5 minutes.

Day 5: Bear Crawls

  1. Start on the ground on your hands and knees.
  2. Lift your knees so that they are hovering about an inch off the ground in a 90-degree angle.
  3. Staying low to the ground, move one hand and the opposite foot forward.
  4. Alternate sides, moving forward each time, until you have covered the required distance.

Challenge: Mark off 20 feet of space and count how many reps (1 rep = up and back) you can get in 5 minutes. Take breaks as needed.

Day 6: Plank Jacks

  1. Start by lying on the ground on your stomach.
  2. Push up to a plank position. Your body should be in a straight line with only your hands and toes touching the ground.
  3. With your core engaged, jump your feet out to their respective sides (as you would in a standing jumping jack).
  4. Quickly move your feet back to the starting position and repeat.

Challenge: Perform as many plank jacks as you can in 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. Repeat for 5 minutes total.

Day 7: Butt Kickers

  1. Start in an upright position with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Bend your knee to bring your right heel toward your butt, then return to standing.
  3. Immediately repeat on the other side to bring your left heel toward your butt.
  4. Gradually increase speed until you are running in place.

Challenge: For 20 seconds, perform as many butt kickers as possible, then rest for 10 seconds. Repeat for 5 minutes.

Week 1 Challenge

AMRAP 8 (As many rounds as possible in 8 min.):

  • Up-downs: 10 reps
  • Plank jacks: 15 reps
  • Jumping jacks: 20 reps
  • High knees: 25 reps

Day 8: Squats

  1. Start in an upright position with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Push your hips back and bend your knees. Keep your back straight and your chest upright as your knees drive out.
  3. When your butt is slightly below your knees, drive through your heels to return to standing.

Challenge: Perform 15 squats at the beginning of every minute for 8 minutes total.

squats

Day 9: Good Mornings

  1. Start in an upright position with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. With a slight bend in your knees, hinge forward by moving your hips back.
  3. Keeping your back flat, lean forward until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings or your chest is horizontal with the ground.
  4. Return to the standing position, keeping a slight bend in your knees.

Challenge: For 20 seconds, perform as many good mornings as possible, then rest for 10 seconds. Repeat for 8 minutes total.

Day 10: Upper Cuts

  1. Start in an upright position with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms bent at a 90-degree angle.
  2. Bend your knees and lower yourself to a quarter-squat position.
  3. Rotate your body and bring your bent right arm up in a scooping motion. Rotate the other way and repeat with your left arm.
  4. Gradually increase speed.

Challenge: Perform 20 upper cuts at the beginning of each minute for 8 minutes total.

Day 11: Burpees

  1. Start in an upright position with your feet hip-width apart, your legs straight, and your arms hanging by your sides.
  2. Bend your knees into a squat position and lower your hands to the floor.
  3. Jump or step your feet back so that your hands, chest, and toes are touching the floor (stomach, hips, and thighs should not touch the floor) and your elbows are bent in a push-up position.
  4. Push up to a plank position, then jump or step your legs forward to hop back up to standing.
  5. Finally, jump up and reach your hands over your head, landing with your knees slightly bent.

Challenge: Perform 5-8 burpees at the beginning of every minute for 8 minutes total.

Day 12: Broad Jump

  1. Start in an upright position with your feet shoulder-width apart, and your arms hanging by your sides.
  2. Push your hips back and bend your knees until you are in a half-squat position.
  3. Swing your arms back, then swing them forward and up, using the momentum to push off your toes and jump forward as far as possible.
  4. Land with your knees slightly bent.

Challenge: Perform 5-8 broad jumps over the course of 5 minutes and record your farthest jump.

Day 13: Tuck Jumps

  1. Start in an upright position with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Push your hips back and bend your knees until you are in a quarter-squat position.
  3. Push off your toes to jump straight up.
  4. In midair, bring your knees to your chest.
  5. Land back in a quarter-squat position.

Challenge: For 20 seconds, perform as many tuck jumps as possible, then rest for 10 seconds. Repeat for 8 minutes total.

Day 14: Mountain Climbers

  1. Start on the ground in a plank position (hands and toes should be the only body parts touching the ground and your back should be straight).
  2. Pull your right knee toward your chest as far as possible.
  3. Extend your leg back out, then repeat with the other knee.
  4. Repeat this sequence, gradually increasing speed while not compromising how far you bring your knees toward your chest.

Challenge: Perform 20 mountain climbers at the beginning of every minute for 8 minutes total.

Week 2 Challenge

AMRAP 10 (As many rounds as possible in 10 min.):

  • Burpees: 9 reps
  • Good mornings: 12 reps
  • Tuck jumps: 15 reps
  • Mountain climbers: 18 reps
  • Upper cuts: 21 reps

Day 15: Skier Jacks

  1. Start in an upright position with your feet together and your arms hanging by your sides.
  2. Jump one foot forward and the other foot back while swinging your opposite arm (e.g., right foot, left arm) forward and up. Repeat on the other side.
  3. Continue alternating sides as you gradually increase speed.

Challenge: Perform as many skier jacks as you can in 30 seconds, then rest for 15 seconds. Repeat for 5 minutes total.

Day 16: Step-Ups

  1. Using a plyo box (or a sturdy stool, step, etc.), place one foot on top of the box and step up onto it.
  2. Bring your other foot up on top of the box and stand straight up.
  3. Step down with the opposite foot that you stepped up with.
  4. Step back up with that same foot, repeating the sequence on the other side.
  5. Continue alternating sides as you gradually increase speed.

Challenge: For 30 seconds, perform as many step-ups as possible, then rest for 15 seconds. Repeat for 8 minutes total.

Day 17: Inchworms

  1. Start in an upright position with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Reach your hands down to the ground, placing them as close to your feet as possible.
  3. Once your hands are on the ground, walk them forward until you're close to a plank position.
  4. Step your feet forward until they are as close to your hands as possible.
  5. Return to a standing position and repeat.

Challenge: Perform 6 inchworms at the beginning of every minute for 8 minutes total.

Day 18: Runner's Skips

  1. Start in an upright position with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. With your left leg remaining straight, bring your right knee up to your waist while swinging your right arm up in a slight upper-cut motion.
  3. Repeat this motion on the other side.
  4. Gradually increase your speed until you have covered the distance desired (or, if doing them in place, the number of reps or time period desired).

Challenge: For 30 seconds, perform as many runner's skips as possible, then rest for 15 seconds. Repeat for 8 minutes total.

Day 19: Alternating Reverse Lunges

  1. Start in an upright position with your feet hip-width apart and your hands pressed together in front of your chest with your elbows bent.
  2. Step backward with one leg and lower your knee until it is hovering just above the ground while bending your front leg to a 90-degree angle.
  3. Push off with your back toes as you press into the ground with your front foot.
  4. Return to a standing position and repeat, alternating legs each time.

Challenge: Perform 18 alternating reverse lunges at the beginning of every minute for 8 minutes total.

lunges

Day 20: Jumping Squats

  1. Start in an upright position with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Push your hips back and bend your knees, keeping your chest upright and your back straight.
  3. When your butt is slightly below your knees, drive back up through your feet and jump straight up.
  4. Land with your knees slightly bent.

Challenge: For 30 seconds, perform as many jumping squats as possible, then rest for 15 seconds. Repeat for 8 minutes total.

Day 21: Lateral Burpee Jump-Overs

Before you begin, place a stick—such as a broomstick or mop handle—on the floor in a place where you have room to perform a burpee laterally to your stick on both sides.

  1. Start in an upright position with your feet hip-width apart, your legs straight, and your arms hanging by your sides.
  2. Bend your knees into a squat position and lower your hands to the floor.
  3. Jump or step your feet back so that your hands, chest, and toes are touching the floor (stomach, hips, and thighs should not touch the floor) and your elbows are bent in a push-up position.
  4. Push up to a plank position, then jump or step your legs forward to hop back up to standing.
  5. Finally, jump or step over the stick sideways and repeat the burpee on the other side.

Challenge: For 30 seconds, perform as many lateral burpees as possible, then rest for 15 seconds. Repeat for 8 minutes total.

Week 3 Challenge

AMRAP 12 (As many rounds as possible in 12 min.):

  • Inchworms: 9 reps
  • Lateral burpees: 12 reps
  • Box step-ups: 15 reps
  • Jumping squats: 18 reps
  • Alternating reverse lunges: 21 reps
  • Runner's skips: 24 reps

Day 22: Penguin Hops

  1. Start in an upright position with your feet together and arms by your sides.
  2. Slightly bend your knees while keeping your chest and shoulders upright.
  3. Roll onto your toes and jump up with your feet together.
  4. While in the air, tap your hands on your thighs twice.

Challenge: For 60 seconds, perform as many penguin hops as possible, then rest for 30 seconds. Repeat for 10 minutes total.

Day 23: Dot Hops

Before you begin, place four sticky notes or chalk marks on the floor about 12 inches apart in a box formation.

  1. Start with your feet on the back "dots." One at a time, move your feet to the corresponding front "dots."
  2. As soon as your foot hits the front dot, move it back to the back dot.
  3. Gradually increase speed.

Challenge: Perform 30 dot hops at the beginning of every minute for 10 minutes total.

Day 24: Candlesticks

  1. Start in an upright position with your feet together and your arms straight over your head.
  2. Hinge your hips back into a deep squat until your butt touches the ground.
  3. Continue the movement by rolling back onto your shoulders and extending your legs straight up into the air with the soles of your feet facing the ceiling.
  4. Bring your legs down again, using the momentum to curl your body back up into a low squat, then return to a standing position.

Challenge: For 60 seconds, perform as many candlesticks as possible, then rest for 30 seconds. Repeat for 10 minutes total.

Day 25: Speed Skaters

  1. Start in an athletic stance with your arms by your sides, knees slightly bent, and chest upright.
  2. Jump to the side with one leg and bring your other leg behind your front foot, lightly tapping the ground with your toe.
  3. Bring the back leg out and use it to jump to the other side, bringing your first foot behind to repeat the movement.
  4. Continue jumping laterally and repeating the movement as you gradually increase the speed.

Challenge: Perform 30 speed skaters at the beginning of every minute for 10 minutes total.

Day 26: Donkey Kicks

  1. Start on all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
  2. Keep your back flat with your chin slightly tucked.
  3. Drive your foot up toward the ceiling, keeping your leg at a 90-degree angle and the sole of your foot facing the ceiling.
  4. Return your knee to the ground before your back starts to arch. Repeat with the other leg.
  5. Gradually increase the speed.

Challenge: For 60 seconds, perform as many donkey kicks as possible, then rest for 30 seconds. Repeat for 10 minutes total.

Day 27: Box Jumps

  1. Stand in front of a plyo box (or a sturdy stool, step, etc.), and squat down.
  2. Extend your legs, using the momentum to jump onto the box with both feet.
  3. Stand straight up, then step or jump down.
  4. Repeat and gradually increase speed, if possible.

Challenge: Perform 10 box jumps at the beginning of every minute for 10 minutes total.

box jumps

Day 28: Twisting Toe-Touch Kick-Throughs

  1. Start in a plank position with only your hands and toes touching the floor.
  2. Shift your weight onto your left hand and your right foot as you rotate your body toward the right.
  3. Reach your right hand out toward the right as you kick your left foot under your other leg so it is also out to the right.
  4. Tap your foot with your hand before bringing them both back in to the starting plank position.
  5. Repeat on the other side. Continue alternating as you gradually increase speed, if possible.

Challenge: For 60 seconds, perform as many kick-throughs as possible, then rest for 30 seconds. Repeat for 10 minutes total.

Day 29: Bar-Facing Burpee Jump-Overs

Before you begin, place a stick—such as a broomstick or mop handle—on the floor in a place where you have room to perform a burpee where you are facing the handle on each side.

  1. Start in an upright position with your feet hip-width apart, your legs straight, and your arms hanging by your sides
  2. Bend your knees into a squat position and lower your hands to the floor.
  3. Jump or step your feet back so that your hands, chest, and toes are touching the floor (stomach, hips, and thighs should not touch the floor) and your elbows are bent in a push-up position.
  4. Push up to a plank position, then jump or step your legs forward to hop back up to standing.
  5. Jump or step over the stick and repeat the burpee facing the bar on the other side.

Challenge: Perform 6 bar-facing burpees at the beginning of every minute for 10 minutes total.

Day 30: Man-makers

  1. Start in a straight-arm plank position.
  2. Tap your right shoulder with your left hand, then return to the plank position.
  3. With your weight supported on your right hand, bring your left arm up at a 90-degree angle in a row.
  4. Return to the plank position, then do a push-up.
  5. Repeat the entire sequence on the opposite side.

Challenge: For 60 seconds, perform as many man-makers as possible, then rest for 30 seconds. Repeat for 10 minutes total.

Week 4 Challenge

AMRAP 15 (As many rounds as possible in 15 min.):

  • Man-makers: 3 reps
  • Bar-facing burpee jump-overs: 6 reps
  • Box jumps: 9 reps
  • Twisting toe-touch kick-throughs: 12 reps
  • Donkey kicks: 15 reps
  • Penguin hops: 18 reps

plank

The Finish Line

You did it! At the end of this challenge, we hope that you're seeing some improvements in your cardio endurance and that you learned some fun new moves. While we love cardio exercises such as running, cycling, and rowing, we also like knowing that we can have a great cardio challenge from our home or even our hotel room. Now it is your turn to challenge your friends and family to improve their aerobic capacity in 30 days.

Aerobic Exercise | Cardio Workouts | Best Jump Ropes | Best Compact Cardio Equipment | Best Cardio Machines | 30-Day Cardio Challenge

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