When people think of cardio, the first image that usually comes to mind is an elliptical or a treadmill. Perhaps you even thought of riding a stationary bike. All of those are great ways to do a cardio workout, but many people don’t have such machines at home. The good news is that they aren’t necessary—you can do a great cardio workout at home with minimal equipment or just your body weight.
In this guide, we’re going to provide you with at-home cardio workouts that you can do anytime, one for each fitness level. You can use these workouts to help you lose weight, improve your endurance, or even build muscle.
Benefits of Cardio Workouts at Home
You can perform cardio workouts at home any time of day that works best for you, and you control the environment you work out in. So, you can put whatever you want on the TV or listen to the type of music that will motivate you to keep going, and you won’t have the distractions you would have at the gym.
The time it takes to get the workout started will be minimal because you don’t have to travel to a health club to do these workouts. Furthermore, if you missed your time to train because of something in your schedule changing, you can simply do it later since you don’t need to leave your home.
Give yourself time to warm up your entire body before you start any of these workouts. A proper warm-up should include a combination of dynamic movements followed by stretching. Don’t try to stretch cold muscles because you’ll be more susceptible to injury.
If you choose to do these workouts early in the morning, give yourself a few minutes to completely wake up so you can focus on the task at hand. Make sure you have plenty of room around you when you perform these workouts so you don’t bump a wall or ceiling. Last but not least, make sure the room you’re in is well lit so you don’t trip on anything.
Beginner Cardio Workout at Home
This workout can be performed by people who are new to fitness or active people who simply need a workout that can be performed quickly. The only things you need are your body and a floor mat for comfort.
You’re going to perform five exercises, 50 reps of each in the fastest time possible. Start by doing as many as you can until you reach the point of failure. Give yourself 30-60 seconds to recover, then pick up where you left off. So if you fail at 25 reps, start counting again at 26. After you reach 50, start the next exercise as quickly as you can. By the time you finish, you will have done 250 total reps in a matter of minutes, and your heart rate will be higher because of the effort.
Bodyweight Squat: 50 reps
- Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands clasped together in front of your chest.
- Bend your knees and lower your hips until your thighs are parallel with the floor.
- Return to the standing position to complete the rep, and make sure you’re standing tall before starting the next rep.
Mountain Climber: 50 reps
- Get into the top of a push-up position. Your back should be straight and your head should be neutral.
- Bring one knee up toward your torso.
- Return it to the starting position and simultaneously bring your other knee up.
- Continue alternating as you increase your speed until it seems like you’re running in place. Completing both sides equals one rep.
Push-Up: 50 reps
- Get on your hands and knees, then lift your knees up and step your feet back until you are balancing on your hands and toes with your arms fully extended and your body in a straight line.
- Bend your elbows to lower yourself until you feel a stretch in your chest or your chest touches the floor.
- Immediately straighten your arms to push up until your arms are locked out. Make sure your arms are straight before you start the next rep.
Jumping Jack: 50 reps
- Stand straight and tall with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms down by your sides.
- Jump straight up, simultaneously spreading your legs apart and bringing your hands together overhead while in the air.
- Land with your feet in the starting position and your arms down by your sides.
Straight-Leg Sit-up: 50 reps
- Lie on your back with your legs flat on the floor. Make sure you have an arch in your back while you're on the floor.
- Stretch your arms out in front of you. Sit up as quickly as you can and lift your arms at the same time. You should be sitting completely up at the top of the exercise and your arms should be pointing toward the ceiling.
- Lower yourself slowly back to the lying position.
Intermediate Cardio Workout at Home
If you want an easy way to get an intermediate cardio workout at home, then up the reps on the beginner exercises from 50 to 100. Also, keep the rest time to 30 seconds each time you hit failure or finish an exercise.
If you want to try something different, then you can do this workout with just a jump rope and a clock:
Alternate jumping rope with shadow boxing. After you warm up, start by jumping rope for 60 seconds. If you miss a jump, simply regroup and keep going.
After 60 seconds passes, drop the rope and start shadow boxing. Use a combination of jabs, hooks, and upper cuts. Make sure you move around the room, as well. Duck as if an opponent is fighting you. Continue to shadow box for 60 seconds. Once that time passes, you have completed the first round. Give yourself 30 seconds to catch your breath and sip water. When it’s time to start round two, get back to jumping rope.
Start by doing 5 rounds if you’re new to this type of training. Make it a goal to work your way up to 10 rounds. Once you’re at the point that you can do 10 rounds, cut the rest time from 60 seconds to 45.
Advanced Cardio Workout at Home
For those of you who are ready to step up to advanced cardio workouts at, then you will need a jump rope as well as a kettlebell. It doesn’t have to be heavy—it’s actually best if it’s not because you’re going to do a lot of reps with it.
Pick any three of the five exercises below and follow what is known as Tabata Training. This style of workout requires 20 seconds of all-out activity followed by 10 seconds of rest. The goal is to complete 8 rounds in 4 minutes.
If your goal is to get bigger, then perform two of these exercises on days you’re not in the weight room. If you need to increase endurance or lose fat, do three exercises and give yourself 2 minutes between each Tabata session, and you’ll have performed a very intense workout within 20 minutes total.
Tabata Workout: 3-5 exercises, 20 sec. all-out work, 10 sec. of rest
- Jumping rope
- Bodyweight squat
- Kettlebell swing
- High knees
- Hold a kettlebell by the sides of the handles (aka “horns”) and hinge your hips so the kettlebell goes between your legs.
- Contract your glutes, bring your hips up, and raise the kettlebell up until it reaches shoulder height.
- In one motion, allow the kettlebell to go back down between your legs for the next rep.
- Start in a standing position. Squat down and put your hands on the floor.
- Once your hands touch the floor, step or jump your feet behind you into a push-up position.
- Perform a push-up, then bring your feet back in toward your body and return to the standing position.
- Immediately jump straight up, raising your hands overhead.
- Standing tall, lift one knee up to around hip level, immediately followed by the other. It should feel like a very high step.
- Keep alternating lifting each knee as you increase speed until you are running in place. Continue for the duration of the time of the set or round.
Doing cardio doesn’t have to be boring or require you to stay on one machine while going nowhere. These at-home cardio workouts are easy to set up, but they’re far from simple to perform. Commit to these workouts at least three times a week, and you’ll notice improvements in the way you look, feel, and perform.