25 Cardio Exercises That Deliver Huge Total-Body Results
What’s the first thing you think of when you hear “cardio?” Probably running, maybe the elliptical machine, stationary bike, or even rowing. But there’s so much more to cardiorespiratory training than steady-state endurance workouts — a.k.a. trucking it for the long-haul.
The best kind of cardio happens to be compound exercises, which involve multiple joints and more than one muscle group. “They improve coordination and elevate the heart rate quicker — plus, they allow a person to get a full-body workout in less time while mirroring movements you actually use in real life,” says Sarah Gawron, a trainer at Epic Hybrid Training and Solace in New York City.
A HIIT workout or circuit training sequence can often also burn more calories than steady-state cardio workout, BTW. That’s because they’re performed at a higher intensity, require more energy and oxygen to complete, and, therefore, produce a greater after-burn effect (otherwise known as EPOC). This means you’ll continue to burn calories at a higher rate even after your workout is over.
The real deal-sealer here, though, might just be that you can cut your cardio time in half by opting to do HIIT or circuit training. That’ll free up more time for fun runs, as well as other types of training like too.
Need help picturing what this type of workout plan might look like? “I recommend doing high-intensity cardio one to three times a week, then complement it with low-impact strength training two to four times a week.” says Kristie Larson, a personal trainer at Fithouse and Rise By We.
Now that you’re totally inspired to swap your usual jog for some resistance training, below you’ll find a list of the best cardio exercises — provided by Larson and Gawron. They’re guaranteed to get your heart pounding.
Time: 20 minutes
Equipment: dumbbells, resistance band, mat
Good for: total body
Instructions: For this workout, you’ll complete all sets of one exercise before moving on to the next. Choose six to eight moves below and complete the indicated number of reps per set for each without stopping, then rest for 30 seconds between each set. Before starting each new move, rest for 30 seconds.
1. Split snatches
How to: Start in a squat with back flat and parallel to mat, left arm straight and between feet gripping a dumbbell, which is resting on the floor, right arm extended to side at shoulder level for balance. In one explosive movement, keeping dumbbell close to body, lift torso, pull weight overhead until left arm is straight (bicep by ear and palm facing forward), and hop right left forward and left leg back then lower down into a lunge, stopping when both legs form 90-degree angles. Rise up to stand with feet under shoulders without lowering dumbbell. That’s one rep. Complete 4 to 5 sets of 8 reps per side.
2. Squat Thrust Split Jumps
How to: Start standing with feet mat-distance apart. Squat down and place palms flat on mat then jump feet back to land in a high plank position. Hop feet back behind palms and rise to stand, immediately jumping into a split squat with left leg back, right leg forward, and both lower limbs forming 90-degree angles. Jump up and switch legs to land in a split squat with right leg back and left leg forward. Return to start position. That’s one rep. Complete 4 sets of 8 reps.
3. Plyometric Woodchopper
How to: Start standing with feet under shoulders holding one dumbbell with both hands in front of body, arms extended toward floor. Lift right foot up off mat and behind body while bending at elbows to swing weight over left shoulder. Quickly hop from left foot to right while straightening arms and drawing dumbbell diagonally across chest toward right hip, torso and gaze follow weight. That’s one rep. Complete 4 sets of 8 reps per side.
4. Devil’s Press
How to: Start standing with feet wider than mat and arms by sides holding a pair of dumbbells. Squat down and place dumbbells on the floor. Jump feet back into high plank, then hop them forward outside of hands. In one motion, swing weights back between legs, and as they come forward, squeeze glutes, engage abs, lift torso to stand, and press dumbbells overhead until arms are straight, palms facing each other. Lower weights to return to start. That’s one rep. Complete 4 sets of 8 reps.
5. Plank Jack
How to: Start in a high plank with a mini resistance band loop around ankles and feet mat-width apart. Hop feet together, then back to starting position. That’s one rep. Complete 4 sets of 8 reps.
How to: Start standing on right foot at far right end of mat with left leg bent, left foot lifted and crossed behind right leg, left arm bent and crossed in front of body, right arm behind back, and torso tilted slightly forward. Hop to left end of mat switching arms and legs to mirror move on opposite side. Hop back to start. That’s one rep. Complete 6 sets of 8 reps.
How to: Start standing at top of mat. Extend arms straight out in front of body, and in one motion, sit down onto floor, roll back onto shoulder blades, pushing arms into mat to help drive hips and heels up towards the ceiling. Use momentum to reverse the motion and return to start. That’s one rep. Complete 6 sets of 10 reps.
8. Burpee 180 Jump
How to: Start standing in middle of mat with feet shoulder-width apart and arms by sides. Complete a burpee by squatting down to place palms flat on mat in front of toes, hopping feet back into a high plank position and lowering body down to floor, then pushing through palms to reverse the movement. As you rise to stand, hop around to face the opposite direction and then perform another burpee. Hop back around to start position. That’s one rep. Complete 6 sets of 8 reps.
9. Lateral Toe Taps
How to: Place a dumbbell on mat in front of feet. Begin with right foot on top of the target, keeping weight in left foot. Quickly switch feet so that left foot is on the target. That’s one rep. Continue alternating feet while lightly tapping toes on the target. Complete 6 sets of 8 reps.
10. Mini-Band Frog Jumps
How to: Place a mini resistance band around your ankles and start in a deep squat with feet wider than shoulders and toes slightly turned out, arms straight with fingers pointed touching ground between feet. Jump up extended legs to straight but keeping feet wide and tension on band. Land softly back in start position. That’s one rep. Complete 6 sets of 8 reps.
11. Lateral Shuffle Taps
How to: Start in a quarter squat at left end of mat, feet wider than shoulders, shuffle to right end of mat, then touch floor with fingertips of right hand. Shuffle back to start and touch the floor with left hand. That’s one rep. Complete 4 sets of 10 reps.
12. Sit Outs
How to: Start on all fours, knees hovering slightly off the floor, balancing on balls of feet. Pick left hand up off floor while turning torso to left side of mat, kicking right leg under and across body, and rotating left knee toward ceiling, lowering left heel down to mat for support. Reverse movement to return to start and repeat on the other side. That’s one rep. Complete 4 sets of 10 reps.
13. Bench Runners
How to: Start standing with right toes resting on top of box or step and left foot flat on floor. Quickly switch feet, touching the box with left foot, and then return to start. That’s one rep. Complete 4 sets of 10 reps.
14. Jump Rope
How to: Start with feet together and arms by sides, elbows slightly bent and hands clasped like you’re holding the handles of a jump rope. Keeping elbows close to ribs, start making circles with both forearms in one direction while hopping feet forward, back, and side to side. Complete 6 sets of 20 seconds without stopping.
15. Walking Lunges
How to: Start standing with feet together holding a pair of dumbbells at shoulder height, elbows bent in front of body. Step right foot forward and bend both knees into a lunge, stopping when both legs form 90-degree angles. Press through right heel to stand and step left foot forward, lowering into a lunge. That’s one rep. Complete 4 sets of 12 reps, turning around when you reach the end of your workout space as needed.
16. Banded Vertical Jacks
How to: Place a mini resistance band above ankles and start standing with feet under hips and arms by sides. Jump left leg forward and right leg back a few inches while swinging arms in opposite directions, elbows bent. Reverse the movement. That’s one rep. Complete 4 sets of 10 reps.
17. Fast-Feet Drop
How to: Start in a quarter squat with feet as wide as mat and arms bent, hands in front of chest. Begin moving feet quickly in place, count to five, then squat down, place palms and mat, jump feet back to high plank position and lower body to the floor. Without pausing, quickly jump back up to starting position. That’s one rep. Complete 2 sets of as many reps as possible in 20 seconds.
18. Jumping Split Squat
How to: Start in split squat with torso upright, right leg forward and left leg back, both bent at 90 degrees, left arm bent in front of chest, and right arm extended behind body. Engage abs and drive through right heel to jump up into the air with straight legs, switching arms and leg positions to land softly back into a split squat with left leg and right arm forward this time. Reverse movement to return to start. That’s one rep. Complete 4 sets of 12 reps.
19. Beast Shoulder Taps
How to: Start on all fours with knees hovering slightly off the floor. Keeping hips level, lift right hand off the floor to touch left shoulder. Return to start, then repeat on the other side. That’s one rep. Complete 6 sets of 8 reps.
20. Mountain Climbers Pushup
How to: Start in a high plank. Do one pushup and then pull right knee toward chest, then return to start and repeat with the left, alternating eight times. That’s one rep. Complete 6 sets of as many reps as possible in 20 seconds.
21. Dumbbell Thrusters
How to: Start standing with feet wider than shoulders and arms overhead, biceps by ears, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Lower weights to shoulder level as you squat down until thighs are parallel to mat. Reverse movement to return to start. That’s one rep. Complete 6 sets of 8 reps.
22. Dumbbell Squat Cleans
How to: Start standing with feet wider than shoulders and arms by sides holding a dumbbell in each hand. Shrug shoulders and pull weights up to chin level, elbows narrow and bent in front of body, as you lower into a squat until thighs are parallel to floor. Reverse movement to return to start. That’s one rep. Complete 4 sets of 12 reps.
23. Dumbbell Seesaw Press
How to: Start standing with feet hip-width apart, holding dumbbells with left arm extended straight overhead, bicep by ear, and right arm bent, elbow narrow and weight at shoulder level. Switch arm positions so right arm is straight overhead and left is bent, then reverse to return to start. That’s one rep. Complete 4 sets of 12 reps.
24. Pushup Bent-Over Rows
How to: Start in a quarter squat with feet hips-distance apart, torso parallel to floor, and harms extending straight toward mat, grazing outside of shins and holding dumbbells, palms facing each other. Lower weights to floor in front of feet, then, keeping grip on dumbbells and wrists straight, jump feet back to high plank position and do a pushup. Hop feet back behind weights and return to start position. Now, pull weights toward ribs, keeping elbows narrow. Return to start. That’s one rep. Complete 6 to 8 sets of 8 reps.
25. Broad Jump
How to: Start by standing with feet shoulder-width apart at back of mat with arms by sides. Lower down into a half squat position, and bend elbows to bring hands to frame face. Swing arms behind body, then use the momentum of swinging them back forward to hop both feet to top of mat. Land softly on balls of heels and jump around to face opposite direction. Do another broad jump. That’s one rep. Complete 6 sets of 8 reps.
This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com