Cardio 19 Effective Cardio Exercises for a Gym-Free Workout Use these moves to add intensity to a home cardio or circuit workout By Paige Waehner, CPT Paige Waehner, CPT Facebook LinkedIn Paige Waehner is a certified personal trainer, author of the "Guide to Become a Personal Trainer"; and co-author of "The Buzz on Exercise & Fitness." Learn about our editorial process Updated on September 16, 2022 Reviewed Verywell Fit articles are reviewed by nutrition and exercise professionals. Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Heather Black, CPT Reviewed by Heather Black, CPT Heather Black, CPT is a NASM-certified personal trainer and owner of Heather Black Fitness & Nutrition where she offers remote and in-person training and nutrition coaching. Learn about our Review Board Print If you are hoping to add variety and challenge to your home workout routine, the cardio exercises in this article are an efficient way to boost the intensity of your workouts. Powerful, explosive movements are a fantastic choice when using bodyweight to get a great cardio workout. The following movements can be done at your own pace, depending on your fitness level and your training goals. They don't make up a single workout; instead, add a few of these exercises to the end of your regular cardio workout, or incorporate them into a circuit training workout to add intensity and mix things up. Here are some exercises to consider. Cardio Exercises You Can Do at Home Froggy jumpsBurpeesMountain climbersSquat jumpsJumping jacks to a stepToe taps with jumpsSide to side jumping lunges Prisoner squat jumpsLong jumpsPlyo jacksPlyo lungesJogging in placeJogging with high kneesJump kick lungeSpeed skatersModified mountain climbersLunge jumpsSpeed skaters with weightsJumping jacks with resistance band lat pulls 1 Froggy Jumps Verywell / Ben Goldstein Froggy jumps are a high-intensity move and a great way to get your heart rate up in a short time. This advanced exercise will build lower body power and cardio endurance while helping you burn more calories. Place your feet about hip-width apart, and squat low enough that you can put your hands on the floor in front of you. Explode and jump up, using your glutes, quads, and hamstrings to generate power. Tap your heels together as you jump and take the hands behind your head or up in the air. Land with bent knees to protect the joints and go back into your squat to prepare for the next jump. Repeat 10 to 20 froggy jumps. Rest and repeat if desired. If your knees bother you, don't squat all the way down. Or skip the squat and just stand quickly at the top of the exercise, instead of jumping. 2 Burpees Verywell / Ben Goldstein Burpees are an exercise some of us may remember vividly from high school gym class. This tough exercise is so memorable because it works the entire body and gets the heart rate up in a very short period of time. The move is simple but very challenging for the heart, lungs, and muscles. Add it to your regular cardio workouts to boost intensity and to work on your power, agility, and endurance. Stand with feet about hip-width apart and squat to the floor, placing your hands on the floor in front of you. Jump explosively with your feet out behind you so that you're in a push-up position, on your hands and toes with your body in a straight line. Do a push-up on your toes or knees (this is optional and adds quite a bit of intensity). Jump the feet back to start immediately, stand up, and repeat for 10 to 15 reps or 30 to 60 seconds. 3 Mountain Climbers Verywell / Ben Goldstein Mountain climbers are an advanced, high intensity exercise that will get your heart rate up and add intensity to your workouts. This move will build leg endurance and help you work on agility as well, making it a great overall exercise. If you've never tried this move, take your time and ease into it with slow reps. If you feel discomfort or pain, avoid this exercise. You'll need lots of core strength for this move, as well as upper body endurance. Begin in a push-up position on your hands and toes, back flat, and abs engaged.Bring your right knee in towards the chest, resting the foot on the floor.Jump up and switch feet in the air, bringing the left foot in and the right foot back.Continue alternating the feet as fast as you safely can for 30 to 60 seconds. To modify this exercise, rest your hands on a step, platform, or BOSU Balance Trainer (dome side down). Another alternative is to run your knees in and out instead of touching the toes to the floor and switching feet in the air. 4 Squat Jumps Verywell / Ben Goldstein Squat jumps are a great way to add intensity to your workouts and really raise the heart rate. Add them at the end of your regular cardio workout for an added boost or do them a few times during your workout whenever you want to add intensity or mix things up. This is an advanced exercise that is high impact, so protect your joints by landing with soft knees. If the impact is too much, do the move without jumping. If you've never tried this move, take your time and ease into it with small jumps. If you feel discomfort or pain, avoid this exercise. Begin with feet about hip-distance apart and engage the core.Squat as low as possible, touching the floor with your fingertips if you can. Make sure you send the hips back to avoid putting too much pressure on the knees.Jump up as high as you can, sweeping your arms overhead.Land with soft knees back into your squat and repeat for 30 to 60 seconds. 5 Jumping Jacks to a Step Verywell / Ben Goldstein Jumping jacks are great, but adding a step is a great way to add intensity and spice things up. This move is high impact, so protect your joints by landing with soft knees. You may want to start with the step at its lowest position if you're trying it for the first time. If you feel discomfort or pain, avoid this exercise. Stand facing a step or platform and jump up onto it with both feet.Jump back down to the floor, or step down to the floor if jumping feels unsafe or uncomfortable.Perform a jumping jack on the floor and, after you jump the feet back together, jump back onto the step.Continue alternating a jump on the step and a jumping jack for 30 to 60 seconds. To modify, do jumping jacks on the floor or use a lower step. You can also jump in a staggered stance, with one foot hitting the step just before the other one, which makes the move less intense. 6 Toe Taps With Jumps Verywell / Ben Goldstein Toe taps are great for adding intensity and improving agility. If you've never tried this move, take your time and ease into it with slow taps without the jump. If you feel discomfort or pain, avoid this exercise. Keep in mind that you can do this without a step or you can tap to any sturdy object like a BOSU or the lowest step on a staircase. Stand facing a step or platform.Touch the right toe to the step, jump up and switch the feet in mid-air, touching the left toe to the step.Continue alternating toe taps as quickly and safely as you can for 30 to 60 seconds. 7 Side to Side Jumping Lunges Verywell / Ben Goldstein If you want a great whole body exercise that gets your heart rate up, side to side lunges will do the trick. You can do this move with a jump to add more intensity, but doing it without the jump will also work. Engage your abs to protect your back and, if you feel any back pain, avoid touching the floor. If you've never tried this move, take your time and ease into it with slow reps. If you feel discomfort or pain, avoid this exercise. Take your right leg out to the side as you bend your left knee, turning your body to the left in a runner's lunge. Touch your right fingers to the floor, if you can.Jump up quickly to shift your feet in the air and lunge to the right side, touching your left hand to the floor.Continue alternating sides for 30 to 60 seconds. 8 Prisoner Squat Jumps Verywell / Ben Goldstein Though similar to squat jumps, prisoner squat jumps focus more attention on the core. By placing your hands behind your head and leaning your torso forward, you engage the abs and the back, which challenges the core. This is an advanced exercise that is high impact, so protect your joints by landing with soft knees. If the impact is too much, do the move without jumping. If you've never tried this move, take your time and ease into it with small jumps. If you feel discomfort or pain, avoid this exercise. Begin with your feet wide and your hands behind your head.Squat as low as you can, taking your torso slightly forward without rounding the back.Jump up as high as you can, keeping your hands behind the head.Land with soft knees and repeat for 30 to 60 seconds. 9 Long Jumps Verywell / Ben Goldstein A simple way to increase intensity and add challenge to your workouts is to incorporate long jumps. With long jumps, you simply jump forward as far as you can, landing with both feet. You'll feel your core working hard on this exercise, as well as your heart. To keep this move safe, land with soft knees. If you need to modify, try a staggered landing (one foot lands a bit before the other one). As always, skip this move if you feel pain or discomfort. This move can be hard on the knees, so try landing with the weight in your heels and keeping your jumps short at first. Stand with your feet together and make sure you have plenty of space in front of you.Lower into a squat and jump forward as far as you can in an explosive movement.Land with bent knees to protect the joints.Jump forward again, continuing for the length of the room, turning around and going the other way.Repeat for 30 to 60 seconds. 10 Plyo Jacks Verywell / Ben Goldstein Plyo jacks, or plyometric jumping jacks, are another option for getting your heart rate up and challenging your body in a whole new way. Plyo jacks are like very slow jumping jacks. You jump out, just as you would in a jumping jack, but then slow things down and add a deep squat. When you jump your feet back together, you land in another deep squat. This exercise challenges your hips, glutes, thighs and, of course, your heart rate. Circling the arms adds some intensity to the move as well. Begin with feet together and lower into a squat, bringing your arms in front of you.Jump your feet out, landing in a squat and circling your arms up and over your head.Jump up once again, bringing your feet together and circling your arms back down. 11 Plyo Lunges Verywell / Ben Goldstein Plyo lunges are another great plyometric move that will help build power and strength in the lower body. This move is also excellent for burning calories, getting the heart rate up, and working the hips, glutes, and thighs. This high-impact, high-intensity exercise is challenging, so stick with static lunges if this move is too much for you. Stand in a split stance, right leg in front and left leg in back.Bend your knees and lower into a lunge.Jump explosively into the air and switch your legs, landing so that your left leg is in front and the right leg is in back.Land with soft joints, lower into a lunge, and repeat, jumping and switching sides.Repeat for 1 to 3 sets of 10 to 60 seconds each. 12 Jogging in Place Verywell / Ben Goldstein Jogging in place is one of the simplest ways to get your heart rate up if you're stuck inside. It doesn't have the same intensity as jogging outside, since there's no forward motion or wind resistance. But using your arms and adding forward motion by jogging around the house or up and down the stairs can help you sweat a little more. March in place, lifting your knees and swinging your arms.Move into a light jog, keeping your feet close to the ground as you get a feel for the exercise.Bring your heels closer to your glutes each time you jog.Pump your arms overhead, as you jog faster, or raise your knees.Repeat for 30 seconds to as many minutes as you can. You can also do this exercise in a cardio circuit. 13 Jogging With High Knees Verywell / Ben Goldstein To add intensity to jogging in place, try lifting the knees high as you run. Bring your knees up to the hips if you can and you'll engage your core as well as your quads and hip flexors. Lift the knees high each time you jog in place.Try lifting the knees to hip level if you can, keeping the core tight to protect the back.Increase the challenge by holding your hands at hip level and try to touch your knees to your hands each time you jog. Bring the knees up towards your hands rather than bringing your hands down to the knees.Add intensity by pushing your arms overhead.Repeat for 30 seconds to as many minutes as you can. You can also do this exercise in a cardio circuit. 14 Front Kick Lunge Verywell / Ben Goldstein This is a great move for getting the heart rate up with no equipment needed. It's low impact, but that doesn't mean it's low intensity. Adding a low lunge at the end while touching the floor will engage the glutes and thighs and help raise the heart rate. Stand with feet about hip-width apart and bring your right knee up. Extend your right leg out into a front kick, but avoid locking or hyperextending the knee. Bring your leg back and immediately take it behind you into a straight-leg reverse lunge, keeping your balance on the left leg. Lunge as low as you can, touching the floor with your fingertips. Stand up, bring your right leg forward again, and kick. Repeat the kick and low lunge sequence for one minute and repeat the sequence on the other side for one minute. 15 Speed Skaters Verywell / Ben Goldstein Speed skaters are great for getting the heart rate up and for working the body with lateral movement, something we often don't spend much time doing. This move is not only great for the heart, it targets the outer thighs as well. This is a great complement to exercises that have you going forward and back, such as long jumps. Start with the feet together and jump to the right, as far as you can.Land on your right foot and cross your left foot behind you for a balance challenge.Jump to the left, again taking a very wide step, and land on the left foot.Continue going from one side to the other, trying to keep the movement low and wide rather than jumping up in the air.Continue alternating sides for 30 to 60 seconds. 16 Modified Mountain Climbers Verywell / Ben Goldstein Mountain climbers are great for both cardio and core strength but what if you're not ready for that level? One way to modify them is to elevate the upper body, taking some of the weight off your arms and placing it on the lower body, which is stronger. Stand facing a raised platform of some kind: a weight bench, a step (as shown), a chair, or even a railing. Place your hands on the platform just wider than the shoulders and walk the feet out so that your back is straight, similar to a push-up position.Bring the right knee in toward the platform while keeping the rest of the body in place.Take the right leg back and switch sides, bringing the left knee towards the platform.Continue alternating knees, speeding up if you can.Complete 1 to 3 sets, going for 30 to 60 seconds each time. As you build upper body and core strength, try this move with the hands on the floor. 17 Lunge Jumps Verywell / Ben Goldstein This move will build lots of power and strength in the lower body while increasing heart rate and intensity. The key is to land softly. Try to absorb the impact with your muscles rather than your joints. Lunge jumps are different from plyo lunges in that you don't switch the feet in the air, but stay on the same leg. Begin in a staggered stance, right foot forward and left foot back.Bend your knees into a lunge, going as low as you can.Spring up into the air as high as you can, keeping your hands on your hips or taking them up in the air for more intensity.Land softly on the balls of your feet and lower back into your lunge.Complete 8 to 16 reps before switching sides. 18 Speed Skaters With Weights Verywell / Ben Goldstein Speed skaters are great for getting the heart rate up, but adding some light weights can increase intensity and put more emphasis on the glutes. Because you're moving quickly, you don't need heavy weights here. That can cause strain and injury. The idea is to add a little intensity with light weights so you get a little extra calorie burn. Start with the feet together and hold light weights in both hands.Take a wide lateral jump to the right while crossing the left foot behind you and bringing the left weight towards the floor.Keep your abs braced to protect the back.Push off the right foot and jump to the other side, taking the right weight toward the floor.Continue going from one side to the other for 1 to 3 sets, working for 30 to 60 seconds at a time. 19 Jumping Jacks With Resistance Band Lat Pulls Verywell / Ben Goldstein Jumping jacks are often a staple of any home cardio routine. Adding a resistance band is a great way to add more intensity and engage the upper body, which helps burn more calories. As you pull the band down, you engage the back, making this a multi-purpose exercise. Hold a resistance band in both hands straight up overhead. Make sure your hands are close enough to get tension on the band when you pull it down, but not too tight.Jump the feet out in a jumping jack and, at the same time, open the band, pulling the elbows down to either side of the body.Focus on squeezing the back as you bring your arms down.Jump the feet back together as you take the arms back overhead and repeat for 60 seconds.Try not to use momentum to pull the resistance band down. Also, take care not to let the resistance band jerk your arms back overhead, as that could cause shoulder injury. We've tried, tested, and reviewed the best resistance bands. If you're in the market for resistance bands, explore which option may be best for you. A Word From Verywell Creating a challenging and intense cardio workout with no equipment at home can be done with a variety of explosive movements. These movements are tough, so choose a few to do each time and only perform them at the speed and intensity that works for your fitness level. 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J Hum Kinet. 2018;61:5-13. doi:10.1515/hukin-2017-0137 By Paige Waehner, CPT Paige Waehner is a certified personal trainer, author of the "Guide to Become a Personal Trainer," and co-author of "The Buzz on Exercise & Fitness." See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from companies that partner with and compensate Verywell Fit for displaying their offer. These partnerships do not impact our editorial choices or otherwise influence our editorial content.