The Best Cardio Exercises to Do at Home

Fitness pros share the best cardio workouts to do at home, and they're basically guaranteed to get your heart rate up and leave your muscles quivering.

When you don't have a Peloton bike, are not a fan of running around your neighborhood, or lack access to an elliptical or treadmill from a friend, incorporating cardio into your workout regimen can be challenging, especially if you're exercising at home. As such, cardio exercises often get neglected when working out at home. However, with just a handful of straightforward exercises, you can enjoy a vigorous, sweaty workout that increases your heart rate without needing to invest in large machines or going beyond your personal home gym (a.k.a. your living room).

Certified fitness professionals recommend the most effective cardio exercises you can perform at home. They also explain the numerous health benefits of cardio workouts, which should motivate you to incorporate them into your fitness routine regularly.

Key Benefits of Cardio Workouts

Engaging in cardiorespiratory activities is a powerful method for strengthening your heart and lungs, according to Melissa Kendter, an ACE-qualified trainer and functional training consultant with EvolveYou. "These exercises tax your energy systems, boost your heart rate, stimulate blood circulation, and enhance the efficiency of your circulatory system—including your lungs and heart—in supplying oxygen to your muscles. This results in improved physical fitness and stamina, allowing you to accomplish more without feeling exhausted or out of breath," she emphasizes. Frequent cardio training has benefits that extend beyond the gym, Kendter adds. By incorporating these exercises into your regular workout routine, you'll find yourself needing less time to recover after an intense basketball game, a session on the stair-stepper, or even while carrying groceries from your car to your home. Cardio workouts also offer a psychological advantage, thanks to the endorphin rush experienced post-workout (for example: the euphoria runners often feel after completing a 5K), says Danyele Wilson, a NASM-certified trainer and HIIT master trainer at EvolveYou. "The sense of achievement that comes from accomplishing a challenging task that you weren't necessarily eager to do can provide a natural high and an energy boost," she explains.

How Often Should You Do a Cardio Workout?

The American Heart Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend a weekly regimen of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobic activity, or a combination of both, to reap the full benefits of cardio workouts. Kendter suggests using the 'talk test' as an easy method to gauge your exercise intensity. You should be able to converse during moderate-intensity cardio, but singing should be challenging. Your breathing rate and heart rate will increase, but not to the point of breathlessness. In contrast, vigorous activities may allow you to utter just a few words at a time.

It's essential to choose a cardio routine that suits your preferences and fits into your weekly schedule, Kendter notes. Whether you enjoy brisk walks, swimming, jogging, or hiking more than home cardio exercises, it's entirely fine. The key is adherence and regularity in maintaining your workout schedule.

The Best Cardio Workouts to Do at Home

Engaging in a 20 to 30-minute circuit with some or all of the subsequent home cardio exercises can assist in accomplishing your workout goals. These activities, which encompass both bodyweight and those necessitating minor equipment such as a jump rope, kettlebell, and dumbbells, come highly recommended by fitness experts Kendter and Wilson.
When performing strength-focused cardio movements, you might not immediately feel an increase in your heart rate or sense your cardiovascular system working harder. However, as Wilson points out, "any time you're moving resistance rapidly, it's likely that your heart rate will escalate." Despite this, maintaining good form is crucial; hence, avoid hastily swinging kettlebells for the sake of speed. Instead, keep rest periods brief to maintain high intensity levels.
Although these activities are considered top-notch cardio exercises, they offer more than just cardiovascular and pulmonary benefits. As Wilson explains, "Speed skaters provide additional benefits besides merely elevating your heart rate. They boost your lower body power, lateral strength, and lateral power. Meanwhile, mountain climbers allow for core work." Similarly, jumping rope enhances coordination, and kettlebell swings are a low-impact activity that builds horizontal power.
The following routine involves executing each of the listed 15 cardio activities for half a minute, succeeded by 30 seconds of resting period. If it's challenging to exert maximum effort during the work interval, consider alternating between 20 seconds of exercise and 40 seconds of rest. If done twice, the workout lasts 30 minutes. Alternatively, feel free to create a personalized circuit from the given exercises, adhering to the same time and set guidelines. The only requirements for this workout are a jump rope, a kettlebell, and a light to medium pair of dumbbells.

Jump Squats

A. Stand with feet shoulders-width apart, hands clasped in front of chest, and lower into a squat position.

B. Explosively push upward, jumping as high as possible. Make sure to drive through heels and not toes. Upon landing, immediately squat down. Repeat. (Love jump squats? Add box jumps to your workout routine to up the ante.)

Mountain Climbers

Start in a high plank posture, aligning your shoulders above your wrists, spreading your fingers apart, positioning your feet hip-width distance from each other and balancing your body weight on the balls of your feet. Your body should create a straight line stretching from your shoulders all the way to your ankles.

While maintaining a flat back and focusing your gaze between your hands, brace your core muscles, lift one foot off the ground, and swiftly draw your knee into your chest.

Return your foot to its initial position and repeat this action with your opposite leg. Rapidly alternate these movements as you would during a running motion, driving your knees towards your chest.

Speed Skaters

A. Begin standing on left foot. In one fluid motion, leap to the right and shift body weight to right foot.

B. While shifting body weight, send hips back and reach left arm toward the floor and left leg back behind right. Continue alternating sides.

Wall Sprints

A. Stand facing a wall with feet hips-width apart. Place hands on the wall at shoulder height in a push-up position. Lean in until body is at a 45-degree angle.

B. Bring one knee up to chest in a starter position, then quickly alternate legs as if trying to run through the wall.

Jump Rope Skips

A. Hop continuously at a steady pace. Keep shoulder blades down and back, chest lifted, and land softly. Swing the rope with wrists, not arms.

Kettlebell or Dumbbell Swings

Begin in a standing position with your feet spaced shoulder-width apart and a kettlebell or single dumbbell located about a foot ahead of your toes. Ensure you maintain a neutral spine by bending at the hips to grasp the handle of the kettlebell or one side of the dumbbell. Both hands should hold the weight to start.

Inhale as you initiate the swing, moving the weight back and upwards between your legs. Your legs will straighten out a bit during this phase. Now, exhale and use your hips to power the weight forward swiftly, bringing it up to eye level. At the peak of the movement, your core and glutes should be visibly contracted.

Swiftly drive the weight back down and upward beneath your body. Continue this pattern as many times as needed. Remember, the key to an effective kettlebell or dumbbell swing is maintaining control while using your hips for momentum, not your arms.


Position yourself with your feet hip-width apart and a dumbbell in each hand, which should be at your sides with your palms facing towards you. Brace your core and hinge your hips backwards as you lower the dumbbells to mid-thigh level. In one fluid motion, straighten your legs while pulling the dumbbells upwards, rotating your elbows underneath the weights until they're at shoulder height, caught in a quarter squat. Stand upright. This is your starting position.

Maintain firm control of your core, keep your elbows uplifted, and your chest pushed forward as you sit your glutes back towards the ground. As you reach the bottom of your squat, press your heels into the floor and simultaneously straighten your legs and push the dumbbells overhead. The repetition is complete when your legs are fully straightened and the dumbbells are directly above your shoulders, with your biceps pressed against your ears.

Return the dumbbells to your shoulders while sitting back into the squatting position to kickstart the next repetition.

Single-Arm Press

A. Stand with feet wide and knees soft. Hold a dumbbell in right hand, with right arm in a goal post position (elbows open to sides at shoulder level). Keep left arm at side.

B. Brace core and extend right arm straight overhead.

C. Slowly lower elbow to return to start. Finish set and repeat for left side.

Toe Taps

A. Stand facing a stair, box, or kettlebell. Sprint in place, tapping right toes, then left toes, on top of the object. Repeat, alternating feet.


Begin in a standing position, feet placed at the width of your shoulders, arms resting by your sides. Ensure your weight is on your heels.

Proceed by pushing your hips backward and bending your knees to lower into a squat. Your hands should be positioned directly ahead and slightly within your feet. Transfer your weight onto your hands.

Extend your legs back in a swift jumping motion, landing gently on the balls of your feet in a plank. Maintain a straight line from head to toes. Avoid letting your back sag or buttocks raise too high.

Optional: Lower yourself into a push-up or fully onto the ground while keeping your core tight. Push upwards to lift your body off the floor and return to the plank position.

Leap forward with your feet so they land outside your hands. Extend your arms overhead and perform an energetic jump.

Upon landing, instantly lower back into a squat for your next repetition.

High Knees

A. Stand with feet hips-width apart and arms at sides. Keeping shoulder blades down and back, chest lifted, and core tight, lift one foot off the floor and quickly drive knee to chest.

B. Return foot to start and repeat with other leg. Quickly alternate driving knees in toward chest as if running.


Begin by standing with your feet at shoulder width apart, your weight in your heels and your arms resting at your sides. Then, push your hips backward while bending your knees and lowering your body into a squat position.

Position your hands on the floor directly in front of you, slightly inside of your feet. Shift your weight onto your hands. Carefully jump back with your feet so as to softly land on the balls of your feet in a plank position. Make sure that your body forms a straight line from your head to your heels. Be cautious not to let your back sag or your buttocks jut into the air.

Next, jump forward with your feet so that they land just outside of your hands. Remain in the squat position. Repeat this sequence.

Lateral Shuffles

A. Stand with feet hips-width apart, knees bent, and weight shifted into hips. Engage core.

B. Keeping chest in line with knees, push off from left foot and shuffle toward the right. Continue pushing off from left foot for five steps.

C. Stop and repeat on right side in the left direction. Continue alternating directions.

Jumping Jacks

A. Stand with feet together and arms at sides.

B. Jump into the air, separating legs and raising arms overhead. Land with feet hips-width apart, then jump feet back together and lower arms to sides. That's one rep.

Jumping Lunges

A. Start in a lunge position with right leg in front and both knees bent at 90-degree angles, making sure right knee doesn't go past ankle.

B. Lower down 1 to 2 inches to gain momentum, then push off the floor and explosively jump up, switching legs midair. Land softly in lunge position with left leg in front. That's one rep.

C. Quickly repeat, switching legs each time.

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