Odds are that when we say “daily cardio exercise,” you immediately think about logging miles on a treadmill or an elliptical. But it doesn't have to be that way.
After all, you should never feel boxed in or bored by your workouts. “Ugh, I guess I'll just hop on for 20 minutes and hate every second of it” is probably the world's worst approach to fitness.
What if we told you that you could get a kick-ass cardio workout that would keep you on your toes without even leaving the house? Better still, the moves are broken down into beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels, so you can choose the ones that work for you.
Plus, the moves are mostly low impact, meaning you can do them in the comfort of your living room without worrying about annoying the downstairs neighbors.
Where did we come up with these moves? We asked Josey Greenwell, certified trainer and Barry's Bootcamp instructor, to show us some of his favorite heart-pumping exercises. You can create your own routine by following our guidelines or try his workout at the end of the article.
Either way, you'll be burning fat and upping your cardiovascular endurance - win-win!
How to use this list
Create your own workout
Pick three or four moves from the list below and add them to any workout. Do the moves between strength training exercises, as an active rest, or before a run or other cardio routine. Perform each exercise for 30-60 seconds and complete 2-3 rounds.
Try our workout
Skip the guesswork and scroll to the end to do Greenwell's workout.
1. InchwormShare on Pinterest
Stand with feet hip-width apart and keep core tight. Bend from your waist, place hands on the floor, and walk hands forward, keeping legs straight. When you arrive in a high plank, quickly walk hands back toward feet and stand.
Make it harder: Add a push-up when you're in high plank position.
2. Power skip
Stand with feet hip-width apart and core tight. Raise right knee as you bring left arm forward and hop off left foot. Land on the ball of your left foot, then immediately bring right foot down and repeat on the other side. Focus on height, not speed.
Stand in a split stance with right foot one step ahead of left foot and hips squared (facing forward). With right hand, punch up and to the left with a scooping motion. Quickly repeat on the other side.
Continue to alternate as quickly as possible while maintaining loose knees and a tight core. Halfway through, switch stance to the other side.
4. Mountain climber twist
Start in a high plank position with core tight. Bring left knee in toward right elbow, then right knee in toward left elbow. Continue to alternate as quickly as possible without hiking your hips.
Make it easier: Bring knees straight in toward chest rather than twisting.
5. High knees
Stand with feet hip-width apart and run in place by pulling right knee up toward chest, then left knee up toward chest. Continue to alternate as quickly as possible.
Make it easier: If running isn't part of your game plan, perform this move as a march, using your core to pull your knee toward your chest.
Start in the same split stance you used for uppercuts (No. 3), with right foot one step ahead of left foot. Raise both fists, keeping elbows pulled in toward rib cage.
Punch forward with left hand, slightly rotating torso as you do. Punch as quickly as possible for half of your time, then switch your stance and punch on the other side.
7. Plank jackShare on Pinterest
Start in a high plank position with core tight. Jump your feet apart, then jump them back together. Repeat as quickly as possible while trying to maintain level hips.
8. Butt kick
Run in place, kicking heels toward glutes. Swing arms at your sides or allow them to rest against your butt so that heels kick palms. Make sure the movement is being driven from your hamstrings - not your feet kicking up dust.
9. Fast feet shuffle
Stand with feet wider than hip width and bend knees slightly, sending hips back and keeping core tight. Shuffle feet to the right for 4 paces (or for as much space as you have), then shuffle back the other way.
Stay low and move your feet as quickly as possible to get the most out of this exercise.
10. Plank-to-knee tapShare on Pinterest
Start in a high plank position with core engaged. Shift back and pike hips as you lift right hand to tap left shin - or ankle if you're extra flexible! Return to high plank position and repeat on the other side. Move through the exercise as quickly as possible while maintaining good form.
11. Jumping jack
This classic cardio move is a great way to warm up or do active rest between more difficult moves.
Start with feet together, hands at your sides, and core engaged. Jump legs apart and bring arms overhead, clapping at the top. Keep knees bent as you jump feet back together and bring arms down. Repeat as quickly as possible.
12. Vertical jump
The goal here is simple: Jump as high as you can.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and a slight bend in your knees. Swing both arms back as you bend a little deeper. Then, as you swing arms forward, jump up, extending arms overhead. Land lightly and repeat.
13. SkatersShare on Pinterest
Stand with feet hip-width apart and keep a slight bend in knees. Jump to the right with right foot, landing lightly on the ball of right foot and sweeping left foot behind right leg.
Don't put weight on your left foot if you can help it! Immediately jump to the left with left foot, allowing right foot to sweep behind left leg. Continue to alternate sides.
14. Long jump with jog backShare on Pinterest
Stand with feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent. Swing both arms back and bend a little deeper, then swing arms forward. Jump forward as far as possible with both feet, landing lightly on the balls of your feet. As quickly as possible, jog backward to starting place. Repeat.
15. Tuck jump
It's time to catch some air.
Stand with knees slightly bent and jump up, bringing knees to chest and extending arms out straight in front of chest. Lower arms as you land lightly on the floor.
16. CorkscrewShare on Pinterest
Start in a high plank position with core tight. Shift your weight onto left hand, lift right hand off the floor, rotate to the right, and kick left foot out to the right. Tap left foot with right hand. Repeat on the other side, moving as quickly as possible.
17. Diver's push-up
If you've done yoga, you'll recognize this as like a Chaturanga Pose but a little faster.
Start in a Downward-Facing Dog with hands on the floor, hips high, and feet on the floor so you form a triangle.
In a fluid motion, dive your head toward the floor, coming into a low push-up position, and then swoop chest forward and up so you end in an Upward-Facing Dog position. From there, push hips up to return to the starting position.
18. Wide mountain climbersShare on Pinterest
Start in a high plank position with core tight. Bring right foot forward to the outside of right hand so you're in a low lunge position.
Jump and switch feet in midair so you land with your left foot to the outside of your left hand and your right foot straight back. Continue to alternate as quickly as possible.
Make it easier: Skip the hop. Instead, step right foot back, then quickly step left foot forward.
19. Invisible jump rope
Hop over an invisible rope (no need to jump more than 1 or 2 inches off the floor) by staying on your toes and pushing off with the balls of your feet. Make quick, small movements with your wrists, as if you're holding a rope.
20. Hops to push-upShare on Pinterest
Stand on your right foot with left foot elevated and core tight. Hop 3 times, then bend down and quickly walk hands out so you're in a high plank position with left foot still off the floor.
Do 3 push-ups, never putting left foot down. Walk hands back and stand up to return to the starting position. Repeat for half the time on one side, then switch sides.
You'll need a bench or sturdy chair for this move.
Place right foot on the bench. Using your glutes, push up so right leg is straight and left foot is off the floor. Slowly lower, allowing left foot then right foot to come down to the floor. Repeat, focusing on using only your right glutes (don't push off with your left foot).
22. Classic burpeeShare on Pinterest
It's the move we love to hate - and our model makes it look so easy!
Stand with feet hip-width apart and core tight. Jump up, then immediately drop to the floor, placing hands on the floor and shooting feet back so you're in a high plank position. Do a push-up. Quickly jump feet back to hands and, in one movement, stand and jump up to complete 1 rep.
23. Single-leg hop
Stand on right leg, lift left foot off the floor, and brace core. Jump forward 3-5 times, each time landing lightly on the ball of your foot. Switch feet and jump back to the starting position.
Make it harder: Jump in a box formation: forward, side, back, side. Then switch directions before hopping on the other side.
24. Runner's skipShare on Pinterest
Start in a low lunge position with right foot forward, left foot back, and fingertips touching the floor for balance. In one smooth movement, bring left foot forward and, as you stand on right foot, continue to lift left knee toward chest and hop up on right foot.
Land lightly on right foot and immediately slide left foot behind you to return to starting position. Repeat for half the time, then switch to the other side.
25. Flutter kick
Lie faceup on your back with navel pulled toward spine. You can slide both hands under the curve of your low back for added support. Using your core, lift both feet 3-4 inches off the floor and kick feet up and down several inches, keeping core engaged throughout.
If you feel any discomfort in your low back, skip this exercise.
26. Sprinter situp
Start in a seated position with legs extended in front of you and arms bent to 90-degree angles (think robot). Lean back slightly as you lift right leg with right knee bent.
Bring left elbow to right knee, engaging obliques as you twist upper torso to the right. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
27. Squat jumpShare on Pinterest
Do a perfect squat. As you rise, jump up, fully extending legs and pushing arms down to help with momentum. Land lightly on toes and immediately drop into a squat again.
Greenwell suggests holding your hands behind your head (as shown), which helps keep your chest open and your posture straight.
28. Plyometric push-up
Master a perfect push-up before attempting this move.
As you push up, press into the floor even harder so that both hands come off the floor and you can clap your hands together before landing in a high plank again.
Plyometric moves like these are great for building strength and power.
29. Triceps push-up with mountain climberShare on Pinterest
Two moves are better than one, right? You may want to do this move on a mat or towel for padding.
Start in a high plank position with core tight. Lower onto both forearms at the same time, maintaining a tight core and level hips.
Push back up onto hands at the same time to return to the starting position. Finish by drawing right knee into chest, then left knee into chest, doing a mountain climber.
Make it easier: Lower and push back up on one arm at a time, rather than both arms at once. You could also perform a push-up on your knees and then lift your knees to do the mountain climber.
30. Box jump
You'll need a box or sturdy bench to complete this move. If you've never attempted box jumps, start with a box that's mid-calf height and progress to higher heights from there.
Stand in front of a box with feet shoulder-width apart. Bend knees, send hips back, and swing arms back. As you swing arms forward, explode up onto the box. Land lightly on your toes - no loud thuds! Step down one foot at a time and repeat.
31. Donkey kickShare on Pinterest
Start in a high plank position with core tight and hips level. Jump feet up and kick butt with heels. Your weight should come forward onto hands, but shoulders should stay in line over wrists. Extend legs and land lightly on toes to return to the starting position.
32. Lateral jump
This move works best if you use a low bench.
With the bench at your right side, start with knees slightly bent and hips back. Shift your weight to left foot, then jump over the bench first with right foot, allowing the left foot to follow. Land lightly on your right foot first, then left foot.
Reverse the move, starting with your left foot, and return to the starting position.
33. Jumping lungeShare on Pinterest
This move is sure to get your heart racing in no time. Master a basic lunge before progressing to this version.
With right foot ahead of left foot and core tight, drop into a low lunge, bending both knees to 90 degrees. Jump up, switching feet in midair so you land with left foot ahead of right foot. Immediately drop into a low lunge on the other side.
Greenwell created this inventive (and sweaty!) quick cardio workout by combining three of the moves from our list above. Do the moves in order for the indicated number of reps.
- Triceps push-up with progressing mountain climber. Start with 1 push-up and 1 mountain climber. Next time, do 1 push-up and 2 mountain climbers, then 1 push-up and 3 mountain climbers. Continue until you get to 10 mountain climbers.
- Hops and push-up combo. Do 3 hops on one leg, then 3 push-ups. That's 1 rep. Do 10-15 reps per side.
- Squat jump. Do 20 seconds of squat jumps followed by a 10-second squat hold. Repeat for 5 minutes.
Special thanks to Josey Greenwell of Barry's Bootcamp, who modeled these moves and created this workout. Greenwell wears his own Nike shorts and sneakers and a Manduka shirt.