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Get a Great Workout in Without Ever Leaving the House With These 25 at-Home Cardio Moves

By Shameika Rhymes for Parade.

Summer is here, and thanks to vaccination efforts, the pandemic is finally starting to feel like it’s under control. This means gyms and group fitness classes are opening up in some part of the country (hooray!), but especially as the weather heats up, many of us would still prefer to do our cardio workouts in the comfort of our air-conditioned homes. Luckily, there are several ways to get your heart rate up, lose weight, and have fun all from the comfort of your home or yard. Here are some trainer-approved exercises to take your at-home cardio workouts to the next level.

Cardio Workouts at Home

David Watson, Master Level Trainer and Training Development Manager at Life Time, recommends the below cardio workouts.
1. Jumping Jacks
How to do them:
  • Stand with your legs together and arms at your sides.
  • Bend your knees slightly. Jump and spread your legs wider than shoulder-width, lifting your arms overhead.
  • Jump to center.
2. Mountain Climbers
How to do them:
  • Start in a plank with your hands under your shoulders and your body straight. Flatten your back and brace your core.
  • Lift your right knee toward your chest. Quickly switch, moving your right knee out and lifting your left knee in.
  • Continue alternating legs.
3. High Knees
How to do it:
  • Stand with your legs together and arms at your sides.
  • Lift one knee toward your chest. Lower your leg and repeat with the other knee.
  • Continue alternating knees, pumping your arms up and down
4. Toe Taps
How to do them:
  • Stand in front of the curb or step. Rest one foot on top, toes facing down.
  • Quickly switch legs to bring the other foot on top. Continue alternating feet.
  • As you get used to the movement, move left or right while doing toe taps.
5. Squat Thrusts
How to do them:
  • Start in a plank position with wrists and elbows beneath shoulders, core tight, and legs straight.
  • Bend knees to jump feet forward outside hands then lift chest up and bring hands together in front of body, coming into a low squat.
  • Reverse the movement to return to start.
6. Plank with T-Spine Rotation
How to do it:
  • Start in a high plank with your palms flat, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked directly above your wrists, legs extended behind you, and your core and glutes engaged. Place your feet hip-width apart.
  • Rotate your entire body to the right into a side plank, so that your right shoulder is stacked above your right wrist and your left hand is extended toward the ceiling.
7. Lateral Top Taps
How to do them:
  • Place a dumbbell or small object to target on the mat in front of your feet.
  • Begin with the right foot on top of the target, keeping weight in the left foot.
  • Quickly switch feet so that the left foot is on the target.
8. Reverse Lunges with Knee Drives
How to do them:
  • Start in a low lunge position with right foot forward and left-back, both bent at 90 degrees, torso parallel to floor, right hand on right thigh, and left arm extended, fingertips on mat.
  • Push through the right leg to take a small jump up into the air, lifting the left knee off the floor and driving it towards the chest, while swinging bent right arm forward until elbow is in line with the shoulder.
9. Fast Feet with Punches
How to do it:
  • Start standing with feet slightly wider than hips, knees softly bent, and arms bent with fists up at chin height.
  • Take small, quick, alternating steps with feet while at the same time, extending arms in an alternating pattern to perform quick punches.
10. Tai Chi Swish
This is a wonderful whole-body movement that gets your blood pumping and also is therapeutic for your body and mind,” says Tara Stiles, author of Clean Mind, Clean Body: A 28-Day Plan for Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Self-Care. How to do it:
  •  Stand with your feet comfortably wide apart, toes facing forward.
  •  Put a slight bend in your knees and relax your whole body.
  •  Point your center toward your right side. Relax your arms so they follow your body and swish around you. Repeat toward your left and keep going for one minute. “Make sure to only move your center and let the rest of your body follow,” Stiles adds.
11. Side Plank Rolls
“A plank is a standard move, but when you bend your knees a little and roll from your middle and use your breath for support, the movement becomes much more useful and also fun,” says Stiles. How to do them:
  • Bend your knees and bring your weight toward your feet to alleviate pressure on your wrists.
  • Rollback and forth 10 times and rest on all fours.
  • Repeat twice if you’re in the mood for a bigger sweat.
12. Handstand Hops
“This targets the whole body, increasing heart rate and blood flow, shoulder, core, and arm strength,” says Allie Geer, a Yoga Medicine® Therapeutic Specialist. Geer says try 10 hops on one side, rest, then do 10 more on the other side. How to do them:
  • From downward-facing dog, walk your hands halfway back towards the center of the mat. Lift one leg straight up off the floor.
  • Shift your shoulders so that they are stacked over the wrists.
  • Push the floor away with your hands and start to gather momentum by pulsating both legs up and down. Eventually, start to use that momentum to hop the standing foot off the ground.
13. Warrior 3 Rolls
Stiles says doing these can give you an extra boost of energy if repeated after the initial 10 times on each side. How to do them:
  • From standing, shift your weight onto your right leg, take a big inhale and hug your left shin in for a squeeze.
  • Exhale and send your left leg behind you and bring your hands to the floor for support in a warrior 3. Take a big inhale and reach out through the top of your head and through your back foot. Exhale and roll upbringing your shin along with you.
  • Hug your shin in front of you with a big inhale.
14. Drop Squat with Alternate Hand Floor Touch
How to do it:
  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than your shoulders, feet parallel or toes slightly turned out.
  • Jump your feet out as you lower into a squat. “At the same time, bring your left hand in front of you, making contact with the ground. Your right arm should be relaxed, behind your back,” explains Watson.
  • Jump your feet back in, returning to the starting position.
15. Lateral High Knees
How to do it:
  • Start standing on the left leg with knee slightly bent at bottom of the mat facing sideways, right leg bent with knee in line with hip, left arm straight and side, and right arm bent, hand in front of chest.
  • Step right foot out and down to the floor while picking left knee up to hip height and switching arm positions.
  • Continue alternating feet while moving to the right for three high knees then reverse the movement to return to start.
16. The Name Game Exercise
Jay Johnson, The FITVANGELIST of Faith-Based Fitness and the Official Trainer of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders says you can add more fun to the workout with the name game. “I recommend training with a partner or group if possible for accountability whenever possible,” he says. Johnson says spell out your name by following this list of exercises for anywhere from 10-50 times up to 3 rounds:
  • A-Spider lunge
  • B-Crab walk kick
  • C-Dive Bomber
  • D-Bear Crawl
  • E-Walkouts
  • F-Pike Push ups
  • G-Window Pane
  • H-High Knees
  • I-Cherry Pickers
  • J-Tomahawk Crunch
  • K- Gracies
  • L-Thunder Kicks
  • M-Push ups
  • N-Gorilla Bounds
  • O-Ab Twist
  • P-Heel Touch
  • Q-Mountain Climbers
  • R-Bicycles
  • S-Jumping Jacks
  • T-Ab Reach
  • U-Butt Kicks
  • V-Scissors
  • W-Skaters
  • X-Up downs
  • Y-Burpees
  • Z-Squat Hops
17. Tabata Drills
“Tabata involves an exercise being completed at maximum intensity for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds rest. This is then completed eight times for four minutes,” explains Johnson. “The traditional Tabata drill always used running and sprinting as the set exercise.”
  • Tabata drills can include:
  • Push-ups
  • Jump squats
  • Plank jacks
  • Jumping jacks
  • Mountain climbers
  • Burpees
18. Lateral Shuffles
How to do them:
  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees and hips bent. Lean forward slightly and brace your core.
  • Lift your right foot, push off your left foot, and move right while keeping your form.
  • Place your feet together. Continue shuffling to the right. Repeat on the left side.
19. Crab Walk
How to do it:
  • Sit on the floor, knees bent and feet flat. Place your hands on the floor under your shoulders, fingers pointing forward.
  • “Lift your hips off the floor and walk backward using your arms and legs, keeping your weight evenly distributed between your arms and legs,” explains Watson.
  • Continue walking backward for the desired distance.
20. Twisty Boat Rides
Stiles says this is one exercise you can tweak depending on your fitness level How to do it:
  • From sitting, lift your legs up. Legs can be bent or straight, whatever is manageable for you. If this is too much, bring your forearms on the ground for support. Do what you can without a big struggle.
  •  Exhale and roll over toward the right side. Inhale yourself up toward your center.
  • Repeat on your left side and continue for 20 times.
21. Fast Feet with Punches
How to do it:
  • Start standing with feet slightly wider than hips, knees softly bent, and arms bent with fists up at chin height.
  • “Take small, quick, alternating steps with feet while at the same time, extending arms in an alternating pattern to perform quick punches,” says Watson.
22. Lunge to Standing Balance Repeats
“These target the legs, glutes, and core while adding in balance and stability for the hips,” says Geer. She adds that as bonus cardio, try kicking the leg forward and maintain a quicker pace and momentum. How to do it:
  • From downward-facing dog, step your right leg between your hands.
  •  Press into your right foot to rise up into a high lunge with the arms reaching overhead.
  • From high lunge, lean your body onto your front leg, press into the right foot to come all the way up to standing with the left knee into the chest.
23. Skater Hops
How to do them:
  • From a standing position, shift your weight onto your left leg, bending your left knee to lower your hips a few inches while raising your right foot off the ground.
  • Bound to your right by pushing off with your left leg.
  • “Land softly on your right leg, allowing your left leg to cross behind you and your arms to swing across your body in the same direction,” explains Watson.
  • Pause, and then repeat the movement, this time pushing off with your right leg and landing on your left leg.
24. Tuck Jumps
How to do them:
  • Start standing with feet under hips and elbows bent so hands are straight in front of chest, palms facing down.
  • Engage core, squat down slightly, and push off the floor with both feet to jump upwards, lifting knees to tap hands at the top of the movement.
  • Land softly with a slight bend in knees.

About the Author

Yoga Medicine®

Yoga Medicine®

Yoga Medicine® is a thorough, anatomically based training system that trains teachers across the globe to work more powerfully with their students. Yoga Medicine® is a community of teachers who are trained to understand the function and dysfunction of the human body in order to work more effectively with healthcare practitioners. Yoga Medicine® loves to post articles based on yoga teacher's experiences, yoga-related research, the relationship between yoga and healthcare, and much more. We welcome guest submissions as well - please contact info@yogamedicine.com to discuss further details.

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