People choose to workout and exercise for several reasons, with cardio health being one of most cited. Although the idea of spending time on your cardio health may not be as appealing as working on your biceps or toning your abs, it’s actually a gateway to better health overall, which only works to improve your other exercises.
The better your cardio health is, the better your heart rate and breathing are. This is not only important for your heart health, but your energy level throughout the day as well. Cardio exercises should be at the heart of all of your workout routines.
With that said, here are four of the best cardio exercises you can do at home during the week to improve your heart health, increase endurance, and better your overall fitness levels.
Jumping Jack/Push-up/Mountain Climber Combo
This routine is sure to get the heart going, while simultaneously improving your arm, chest, and leg strength. It requires no equipment, and involves familiar exercises that nearly everyone will know.
Keep in mind that this is to be done in one continuous motion, linking all of the different parts together.
This workout is best done on a flat, hard surface.
Instructions: Begin by doing one jumping jack. Immediately drop to the ground for one push-up, and follow that by doing one mountain climber for each leg. All of this equals one full rep.
Perform 3 sets of 8 reps, resting at least 10-15 seconds in between each set. This routine should be done 3-5 times per week, and even more as your cardio strength improves if you choose. Variations can be implemented by wearing a weighted backpack, or using a step for different angles on the mountain climber and push-up portions.
This is another great cardio exercise with added benefits, mainly in the core region. Just like the previous exercise, you’ll need a flat surface. Extra space in front of you will allow you to continually do the reps without having to go back to the start point, but is not required.
(Watch this video if you are not yet familiar with burpees.)
Instructions: Begin the exercise by doing a burpee like you normally would; feet shoulder-width apart, crouch down, kick your legs back behind you. Whenever you kick your legs back, get into a push-up position, do one push-up, and kick your legs back under you in the crouching position you began in. From there, do a standing broad jump as far as you can.
Be sure to make this as fluid as possible, getting back to your original position as quick as you can. Repeat 8 total times for 3 full sets. You can even track your progress by measuring your last jump if you’d like.
This exercise is fairly simple. It begins with a standard squat, but adds some small tweaks that cause you to work much harder.
Instructions: Begin by standing and placing your feet shoulder-width apart below you. Do a standard squat, and then jump as high as you can. Once you land, lower your body back into your starting squat position (crouched.) Try to land as softly as you can, using your lower body to absorb the impact.
Repeat this for 12 reps, and do 3 full sets, resting 15 seconds in between each.
High Knee Running
This is a form of running in place, but is much more intensive. If you aren’t able to run outside for whatever reason, this exercise can be just as effective in a solitary space.
Instructions: Stand upright with your arms slightly bent at your sides. Begin by running in place, bringing your knees up towards your chest quickly and as high as you can. Move your arms front and back like you are sprinting.
The key to getting everything you can out of this is to make sure you are constantly bringing your knees up high, otherwise you are simply running normally in place. The added motions increase your heart rate and provide a much better workout.
If you can, try doing this motion for 60 seconds. If that’s too difficult, start off with 30 second intervals, gradually moving up to 45 and 60 seconds as your cardio improves. High knee running is also a great choice to combine with any of the above listed exercises.
Here is a helpful video if you need assistance with your form.