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A Guide to Doing Cardio Exercises at Home

Whether you don’t want to hit the gym because of health concerns, or you simply don’t have the time for it, that’s no excuse for skipping out on your workout and that’s why we decided to create a guide to doing cardio exercises at home. You can easily do quick cardio exercises at home without investing in any expensive equipment or gear. 

Regular exercise is critical if you’re to achieve your desired fitness level, and it can work wonders for both your physical and mental wellbeing. It gets your blood pumping, improving your circulation and increasing your heart rate. It boosts your cognitive function, alleviates the symptoms of anxiety and depression, helps you fight off insomnia, and so much more. 

Regardless of your current fitness level, you stand to gain from committing to cardio exercises at home. Something as simple as walking can benefit you on so many different levels without taking too much of your free time. 

So, let’s take a look at a guide to doing cardio exercises at home and some of the simplest yet most effective cardio exercises you can do at home. 

If You Have a Staircase, Use It! 

person wearing colorful shoes running up stairs

No piece of gym equipment can substitute a nice long staircase. Just a few minutes of going up and down the stairs on a regular basis can work wonders for your figure and your health. 

If you don’t have a staircase in your home, there’s certainly one at a nearby park, mall, or apartment building, so don’t be afraid to look for adequate locations in your vicinity even though this is a guide to doing cardio exercises at home. 

As a general rule of thumb, just one minute of stair climbing will burn about 8.5 kcal, so you’ll be able to burn off a BigMac within half an hour – and that’s at walking speed. If you’re running, your calorie-burning rate will more than double. 

Running up and down the stairs isn’t your only exercise option if you have a staircase nearby. Take a look at a few interesting cardio exercises you can do at home that will improve your strength, resilience, and flexibility. 

Sidestep 

The “Sidestep” is a little twist on the plain old running up the stairs. Instead of facing the stairs and going up or down, you’ll start by standing sideways with your feet parallel to the stairs. For safety, it’s best to start at the bottom step. 

  • Stand parallel to the stairs (sideways).
  • Bend your hips and knees slightly and use your abdominal muscles to keep your balance. 
  • Step up with the foot closest to the stair.
  • Follow with the second foot. 
  • Don’t cross your feet while climbing! Go a single step at a time. 
  • Continue climbing like this to the end of the staircase. 

Once you’ve reached the top, walk normally down the stairs, turn to the other side, and repeat. If you’ve started with your right foot, you’ll turn to have your left side facing the steps this time, and you’ll step up starting with your left foot. 

The sidestep exercise targets several muscle groups – you’ll activate your calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, and if you’ve properly held your balance, you’ll feel the effect on your abdominal muscles as well. 

Stair Hops 

a man in a white t-shirt doing cardio on concrete steps

This is an ideal cardio exercise at home if you only have access to a smaller staircase. It’s exactly what it sounds like – you’ll be hopping up the stairs. It could be a riskier exercise on bigger staircases, so only do it if you have excellent balance. 

  • Start at the bottom of the stairs. 
  • Stand with your feet at shoulder distance. 
  • Bend your knees slightly and lower your hips. 
  • Keep your abdominal muscles engaged for balance. 
  • Hop up a step. 
  • Be mindful of the landing – bend your knees for a softer landing. 

Stair hops are a high-impact exercise, so if you have knee or hip issues, consult with your doctor to see whether it’s the right choice for you. 

Crab Walk 

If you want to use the stairs for a whole-body exercise, the crab walk is the perfect solution. It will keep your upper and lower body engaged, hitting all major muscle groups. 

  • Start at the top of the stairs. 
  • Sit down and keep your feet two steps below you at shoulder distance.
  • Place your arms behind your hips. 
  • Raise your hips up and tighten your glutes
  • Be mindful of your shoulders, and keep them straight. 
  • Crawl down one step at a time, moving your left leg and right arm simultaneously. 
  • Take the next step by moving your right leg and left arm. 
  • Continue crawling down the stairs. 

It’s an excellent exercise that can quickly help you improve your strength. If you want to make it a bit more challenging, you could try crawling up in the same manner. 

There are many interesting cardio exercises you can do at home on a simple staircase. Just remember to always use caution. Practice your balance, and don’t rush yourself – even slow cardio is good cardio, so take your time and go slowly if you’re unsure. 

Incorporate Kickboxing in Your Workout 

woman kissing black and yellow boxing glove

Kickboxing is an excellent sport that can help you improve your physical fitness. It tones your muscles, sheds excess weight, improves your cardiovascular and joint health, boosts your strength, coordination, and more. It’s ideal for all genders and all body types as it’s a whole-body workout that anyone can enjoy. 

While you’d get the most out of kickboxing if you had a coach, you can easily master the basics of it at home with the help of a YouTube video or two. 

No Equipment? No Problem! 

Ideally, you’ll get your hands on a high-quality punching bag and a pair of boxing gloves. These will help you practice your punches and truly test your strength. However, not everyone can just hang a huge punching bag in the middle of their living room. Maybe your landlord doesn’t allow you to drill holes in their walls to hang a punching bag, maybe you’re afraid it will fall out, or maybe you just don’t have enough space. 

Whatever the case is, you can still rely on kickboxing as your go-to cardio exercise at home without any equipment and this guide to doing cardio exercises at home should show you how that’s possible. If Rocky could do it in 1976, you can do it now. 

Practicing without equipment or opponent is known as shadowboxing. Essentially, you’ll be learning all the stances, moves, kicks, and punches, practicing different combos, offensive, and defensive moves, and beating the heck out of air. It’s fun, engages all your muscle groups, and helps you improve form. 

While you won’t need any equipment, you will need space. So, either engage in shadowboxing somewhere outside, or move some furniture around to create more room. 

Watch Your Form 

Even though you are working through a guide to doing cardio exercises at home and there is no one to spot for you, you still need to master the proper form. Having a good form isn’t just about looking good while kickboxing. It’s about maximising your efficiency and preventing unnecessary injury. 

With the right form, you’ll increase your speed, successfully engage the right muscle groups, and improve your performance more quickly. You’ll also avoid suffering from strains, sprains, twisted ankles, and the like. 

So, before anything else, work on your form. It’s a good idea to work out in front of a mirror so you can see yourself clearly. You might even want to record yourself so you can see what you’re doing right and what wrong. 

Squat Jumps 

woman in yellow hoodie jumping on black plyo box

Squats are the key to having that perfect hourglass shape. They focus heavily on your lower body and help you tone your legs and behind. There are countless squat variations, most of them helping you to increase your strength. 

However, if you want to have a strength and cardio workout at home, you need to add some explosiveness to your squats. That comes in the form of jumps. 

There are two popular types of squat jumps you should try out. 

Regular Squat Jumps 

Regular squat jumps are simple and effective. They follow the basic squat movements, except you’ll need to jump up instead of simply rising up slowly. 

  • Assume the basic squat position with your feet shoulder-distance apart. 
  • Keep your toes slightly outwards. 
  • Place your hands either on your hips or in front of you. 
  • Slowly bend your knees and go down, like you’re trying to sit in a chair. 
  • Keep your knees straight. 
  • Go down until your thighs are parallel to the ground. 
  • Start rising and jump up. 
  • Bend your knees upon landing. 

If the exercise is too heavy on your knees and joints, you can just explosively rise up on your toes instead of jumping. That will eliminate the high-impact landing. 

If you want to make squat jumps more challenging, on the other hand, just add some weights. 

Pop Squats 

Pop squats tend to be more explosive than regular squat jumps, and they’ll get you in shape in no time. 

  • Start with your feet slightly wider apart. 
  • Squat down, bending your knees and keeping them straight. 
  • Jump up and bring your feet together midair. 
  • Slightly bend your knees upon landing. 
  • Jump up again. 
  • Land with your feet wider apart, bending your knees to soften the impact. 
  • Continue for at least a few minutes. 

That’s an explosive exercise that will get your heart racing and maybe have your downstairs neighbours complaining (but it’s well worth it). Try not to do it in the middle of the night, though which you will be tempted to as someone who is following a guide to doing cardio exercises at home.

Burpees

woman in black leggings doing plank exercise on yoga mat  

Burpees are a bit more challenging exercise but can work wonders for your cardiovascular health and physical fitness. 

You don’t need any specific equipment (although a thick yoga mat could be useful if you have it), you don’t need much space, and you can easily do it at home. 

Essentially, burpees are a two-in-one exercise. They’re a combination of push-ups and squat jumps, and they offer a whole-body workout that can burn around 10 calories per minute

On average, a person can do about 20 burpees in a minute but don’t push yourself too hard if you can reach this number immediately. After all, it’s a whole-body workout that can really put a strain on your muscles. Start slowly, and work your way up. 

How to Do Burpees 

As with any exercise, you first need to master the form. Otherwise, you risk getting hurt – especially if you have health problems such as chronic back pain, knee injuries, and the like. 

  • Start in the typical squat position – feet at shoulder distance, knees and hips slightly bent. 
  • Squat down, keeping your back straight. 
  • Put your hands on the floor, shoulder-distance apart. 
  • Place your weight on your arms, and kick your feet straight back. 
  • Do a single pushup, keeping your back straight. 
  • Kick your feet back to their original position. 
  • Stand up and jump with your arms above your head. 
  • Bend your knees upon landing. 

Repeat as many times as you can, and always pay attention to your form. Again, it’s good to either do burpees in front of a mirror or record yourself and watch the video. 

If the exercise is too difficult, you can do it without the jump at first. If you feel like you need a bigger challenge, hold a dumbbell in each hand, and follow the steps above. 

Mountain Climbers 

shirtless man working out on a black gym mat

The mountain climbers exercise is great for increasing your upper body strength, working on your abdominal muscles, and tightening your glutes. When you speed up the tempo, you’ll get your heart racing and your lungs working, so it’s one of the best cardio exercises at home. 

However, it’s important to keep in mind that speed is not a priority with mountain climbers. What’s important is that you have a good form and follow the right movements. Speed will come only after you master the technique. 

Mastering Mountain Climbers 

If you have enough space to lay down on the floor in your room, you have enough space to do mountain climbers. It’s simple, easy, great for a quick warmup, or even a full exercise as it engages your whole body. 

  • Lay down like you’re getting ready to do push-ups. 
  • Keep your arms straight and at shoulder-distance apart. 
  • Don’t let your shoulders rise up, and make sure your back is straight. 
  • Bring your right knee up towards your chest. 
  • Engage your abdominal muscles. 
  • Take your right leg back into the original position. 
  • Bring your left knee up towards your chest. 
  • Repeat. 

As you can see, the movement isn’t overly complicated. The problem is that many beginners forget to keep their back straight and glutes tight, so they quickly lose their form, especially when they speed up. 

So, remember to maintain the right position regardless of how fast you’re going. 

If you want to make this cardio exercise at home even more challenging, you can invest in cheap ankle weights for some added resistance. 

Jogging in Place 

nike sneakers on a running track 

We bet you didn’t expect to see jogging in a guide to doing cardio exercises at home. When trying to do cardio at home, many people believe they need to invest in high-quality equipment and transform their spare room into a home gym. That’s truly not necessary. While a treadmill can certainly grab your attention and give you more motivation to exercise at home, it’s not needed for a healthy workout session. 

You can enjoy many of the benefits of a treadmill without actually investing in one. All you have to do is jog in place. 

Jogging at Home 

If you’re like most people, you’ve likely given jogging a try a few times. But then your sneakers caused blisters on your feet, your running shorts became dirty, the weather seemed a bit off, and you didn’t want to risk going jogging in the rain. 

We get it. Coming up with excuses not to go out and start your cardio is pretty easy, especially on a cold day when you’d rather just sit under the blankets and drink your warm cocoa. 

But, you don’t have to go out to go jogging, and you don’t need fancy equipment. You just need motivation and discipline. 

Jogging in place is the simplest cardio you can do at home. Do it for an hour, and you could burn up to 700 calories

Of course, no one will want to just run in place for an hour. It’s boring, exhausting, and you’ll lose motivation in an instant. 

Instead, just incorporate a few minutes of running in place with other cardio exercises at home. Mix things up, play some good music, and make it fun. 

The Jump Rope 

black jump rope with orange stripes on floor

Boy, girl, or any gender in between, you likely grew up with a colourful jump rope in hand. Every kid always wanted a nice jump rope! Everyone boasted about knowing some cool moves, always twisting, turning, and just having fun. 

It didn’t feel like exercise then, and it shouldn’t feel like exercise now. It’s a fun activity that will get your blood pumping – you just have to remember how to do it. 

So, get your hands on a high-quality jump rope, and start enjoying your new cardio routine. 

It will have quite an impact on your overall wellbeing, improving your coordination, increasing your muscle mass, boosting your endurance and resistance. 

It might take you a while to get used to rope jumping if it’s been a minute since you’ve last done it. It’s more complicated than you might remember, requiring good hand-eye coordination and great balance. So, start off slow and steady – even if you were a jump rope champion in your childhood. 

You can do two-leg jump rope exercises, one-leg, with mini jumps in between, or anything else you’d like. 

Since you have more rigid bones and weaker joints now compared to when you were a kid, it’s a good idea to work on your landing a bit to prevent injury. Always bend your knees – we cannot stress this enough! 

For an extra challenge, you might want to consider investing in a weighted jump rope or getting some heavier ankle weights. Don’t underestimate the jump rope - it is a big part of this guide to doing cardio exercises at home. 

Jumping Jacks 

four men in soccer uniforms doing jumping jacks on beach

Another exercise that you might remember from your childhood is jumping jacks – it’s incredible how much cardio we did as kids without even knowing it! 

Jumping jacks are great for improving your cardiovascular health and for keeping your joints in good shape. They mainly help you focus on your lower body, but the muscles in your upper body will get their fair share of the workout as well. 

Any workout routine can start off with a few minutes of jumping jacks as a warm-up, or you can include them at the end of your workout to loosen up. 

Fast speed jumping jacks are excellent for warming up and increasing your heart rate, while slower ones will help you finish off your routine and recover. 

Doing Jumping Jacks Right 

To do them right, you’ll start with your feet at shoulder distance and your arms by your side. Jump up, raising your arms above your head and spreading your legs wider. Be careful upon landing, as always. 

Jump up again, bringing your arms down and behind your back, and returning your feet to the original shoulder-distance. 

If you want to maximize your efficiency, you can always put on your trusted ankle weights, hold small dumbbells in each hand, or even just put on a weighted backpack. It’s an ideal cardio exercise at home that you can incorporate in any workout routine and is an essential part of this guide to doing cardio exercises at home.

Conclusion 

Doing a few cardio exercises at home can help you on so many different levels. It will keep you active, improve your cardiovascular health, increase your fitness level, and improve your mental wellbeing. 

It’s neither difficult nor time-consuming if you start following the guide to doing cardio exercises at home. So, give a few of these exercises a try, and see for yourself the results you’ll get in just a few weeks.