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When people think “cardio,” they usually think of running. Or they think of hopping on a treadmill or some other cardio machine.
But you don’t have to run to get in a great cardio workout. Actually the 20 Bodyweight Cardio Exercises below may be even better cardio workouts than running, especially chronic, steady-state cardio like long distance running.
And none of them require any equipment (ok a TOWEL but hopefully you have some sort of towel or blanket at home!). They can all be done at home in your living room even.
So if you aren’t a runner and you are looking for a cardio workout you can do at home, check out the 20 Bodyweight Cardio Moves below and scroll to the end for some KILLER Interval Workouts!
20 Bodyweight Cardio Exercises That Aren’t Running
When doing Bodyweight Cardio Exercises, your goal should be to do the hardest variation possible while moving as quickly as possible. Speed is key since you aren’t challenging yourself with weight.
Therefore, if you can’t move quickly, try regressing the move so that you can.
1. Burpees – The Burpee – everyone loves to hate it, but that’s only because it is truly a killer cardio bodyweight exercise.
And it is a must-do exercise if you are looking for a killer cardio workout to do at home.
Plus there are a ton of different Burpee Variations you can do to work your entire body from every angle so that you never get bored.
For some Burpee Variations (including a couple using some fun toys!), check out these 10 Burpee For A Full-Body Cardio Workout.
2. Partner Drills – Partner Drills are a great way to get in a cardio workout while having some fun with a friend. Two great cardio partner exercises are the Partner Get Up and the Partner Crawl Under, Jump Over.
Both of these moves will have your blood pumping and your entire body working!
To do the Partner Get Up, stand facing your partner with your feet between hip-width and shoulder-width apart. Your feet can be slightly staggered if you want with the opposite foot forward to the hand you will grab your partner with. Facing each other, hold your partner’s hand so that you are holding right to right or left to left. Then, one partner will sit down on the ground and roll back onto their back. The partner standing will hinge over and bend their knees slightly to lower their partner down. The partner on the ground will then come back up to standing without using their other hand to push off the ground. They will roll up and drive through their heels to come back up to a standing position. The standing partner will assist them in coming back up to standing by “pulling” them back up. Once the partner is standing again, the other partner will roll back and perform the get up. Keep alternating get ups on one side and then switch.
To do the Partner Crawl Under, Jump Over, one partner will set up in a pike/downward dog position. They should have their butt up in the air so that their partner has plenty of room to crawl under them. Their partner will start standing to their side facing them. They will then move down to the ground and crawl under the partner holding the pike position. When crawling under, try not to touch your knees to the ground. Crawling with your knees on the ground will make the move easier. Crawl all the way under and through to the other side of your partner holding the pike. After the partner crawls all the way through, the partner in the pike will drop and hold at the bottom of a push up with their body in a nice straight line. Holding at the bottom of a push up is challenging. To make the move easier, just rest on the ground. Make sure if you do hold in the push up, your body is in a nice straight line. The partner that crawled under will then hop over the partner at the bottom of the push up. Try to hop with both feet together, however, you can make the move easier by hopping over one foot at a time. Once the partner has jumped over, they will then drop to the ground and set up in the pike position so that the partner on the ground can crawl under and then jump over. Keep alternating who crawls under and who holds the pike.
3. Towel Taz – If you have a bath towel, sheet or blanket, you can do this drill for a full-body cardio workout that will also work your shoulders, core and legs.
The Towel Taz is one of the best full-body bodyweight cardio exercises. It may be even better than the Burpee.
And it is a simple move that anyone can do. Your goal is simply to move around as quickly as possible in every direction while shaking the towel as hard and as quickly as possible.
For more on this move, check out this post on the Towel Taz.
4. Squat Jumps – An oldie but goodie, Squat Jumps are a great cardio exercise to blast your legs. Whether you do them as traditional Squat Jumps where you squat as low as possible with each reps or more as Jumps for Height (where you hinge more than you squat), these jumps will be sure to work your legs and get you out of breath.
To do Squat Jumps, stand with your feet between hip-width and shoulder-width apart. Sit your butt down and back into as low a squat as you can with good form (aka your heels stay down and your chest stays up and your knees don’t cave in).
You can swing your arms back as you squat or reach your hands down to touch the ground.
Then explode up out of the squat and jump as high off the ground as possible, reaching your hands overhead and extending your body fully as you jump.
As you land, sink right back into the squat so you can explode right back up. Do not land with your legs straight. Make sure to bend your knees as you land and try to land softly to protect your knees.
Beginners may need to rest between each rep; however, that doesn’t mean landing with your legs straight. You should never land with your legs completely locked. Bend your knees to help you absorb the impact of landing even if you pause between jumps.
To make the move harder, jump up and sink right back into the squat to repeat as quickly as possible. Really focus on a soft landing and then exploding quickly into as high a jump as you can.
If you want to work on jumping for height instead of squatting lower, try a Jump for Height where you don’t squat as low but simply sit back to load your glutes and then explode up as high as you can. Squatting too low can actually reduce power, but it is a great way to strengthen your legs!
Squat jumps and Jumps for Height are best done for a shorter period of time or for fewer reps so you can really focus on good form and being explosive.
5. Crawling – Crawling is another one of those cardio exercises, like the Burpee, that everyone loves to hate. They love it because they know it is a great way to strengthen their core while burning fat.
They hate it because it’s tough and sometimes even a bit brutal.
But crawling is a great way to work everything from your shoulders to your knees while getting your heart rate up. Even if you don’t have much space, you can crawl in a circle in your living room or take just a few steps forward and backward.
Here are 21 Crawling Variations for you to try and include in your cardio workouts.
6. Split Squat Jumps – Lunging alone can get your heart rate up, which is why Lunge Sequences are included below as a cardio move. However, if you want your leg muscles to burn as your heart rate increase, you need to try Split Squat Jumps.
To do Split Squat Jumps, step one foot back and sink into a deep lunge, bending both knees as if kneeling down to the ground.
Then from this lunge, explode up and as you jump, switch and land in a lunge on the other side. As you land, sink down into a deep lunge on the other side.
Once again in the deep lunge, explode back up and jump back into a lunge on the first side.
Beginners may need to do quick step back lunges instead of jumping to switch. The lower you go in the lunge and the quicker you jump to switch, the harder the move will be.
7. Push Up Variations – Push Ups, while generally thought of as an upper body strength exercise, can also be a great cardio and core move. To make Push Ups more cardio, you will simply want to add in some extra movement like an explosive jump or a shuffle or hop or even a knee drive.
The Plyo Push Up is one great cardio push up variation that will not only increase your upper body and core strength, but will also work on your power while getting your heart rate up.
To do the Plyo Push Up, set up in a nice push up position with your hands outside your chest and your body in a nice straight line down from your head to your heels. Set up at the top of the push up with your arms locked out and your feet close together.
From the top of the push up, lower your chest down to the ground in a controlled fashion, keeping your body in a nice straight line from your head to your heels. Once you’ve lowered your chest to the ground, explode back up from the bottom of the push up, coming up off the ground at the top.
You can choose to clap your hands or just jump up off the ground with your arms straight. Keep a nice straight line with your body as you explode up. Try not to push your butt up in the air just to get higher off the ground. Force your core to really work and keep your body in a nice straight line.
Bend your elbows as you land on the ground and lower right back down to the ground before exploding back up. Move quickly and explosively. Do not land with your elbows locked out. Also make sure to control your lower back down to the bottom of the push up.
Beginners may start with Incline Plyo Push Ups, Knee Plyo Push Ups or quick Push Ups without leaving the ground. The point is to be explosive while keeping your core tight.
For more Push Up Variations to work your upper body while you get in a great cardio workout, check out this How To Do A Push Up post.
8. Explosive Step Ups – If you’re out at a park or playground or have a sturdy table or chair at home, you can use that to blast your glutes and improve your conditioning with Explosive Step Ups.
To do Explosive Step Ups, pick a step, chair or park bench that you can explode up off of that isn’t too high. Beginners should use a lower box while advanced exercisers will want to use a higher box but something they can still easily perform a Step Up on.
To start, place one foot on top of the box (or whatever you are using). Driving up off the foot on top of the box, jump up in the air off the box.
In the air, switch and land with the other foot on top of the box. Touch the other foot to the ground and then explode back up, pushing mainly off the foot on the box.
Jump up as high as possible, driving off the foot on the box to switch and land with the other leg on top of the box. Keep alternating until all reps are complete.
Don’t jump to simply tap your toe on the box. Your weight shouldn’t be back so you can tap your feet on the box.
Truly explode up off the box.
Use your arms to help propel you up as you jump. When you land swing your arms back and as you jump swing your arms up overhead.
9. Box Shuffle – In our workouts, we want to make sure to move in every direction, which is why the Box Shuffle is a great cardio move to include. While the Explosive Step Up is a sagittal plane movement, the Box Shuffle is a frontal plane cardio movement (aka you are moving laterally or side to side) that really works your glutes and legs.
To do the Box Shuffle, you will probably want a lower step, bench or box than you used for the Explosive Step Ups. While you want to use the highest box you can, you want to make sure that you are still able to be quick and explosive.
Start standing next to the box (or whatever you are using), facing forward with the box at your side. Place your foot next to the box on top of it. If the box is on your right, place your right foot up on top.
Slightly squat down with your foot on the box and then jump up and over the box. Land with the other foot on top of the box.
Once you’ve shuffled over the box, explode back up and over the box to land with the other foot on top.
You can play around with either shuffling a bit quicker over the box or jumping up higher as you shuffle. Ideally, you want to jump up as high as possible while moving as quickly as possible. You will not get as much out of this move if you go slowly although beginners may need to do less of a jump and more of a step as they shuffle to start.
If you can’t move quickly or explode up off the box, use a lower step.
10. Mountain Climbers – Work your core while you blast fat and burn calories with this cardio-core exercise. Mountain Climbers are a great move because they work everything from your shoulders to your knees, including your abs.
And they can be done with 3 different knee drives to target different aspects of your core.
To do the Basic Mountain Climber, set up in a high plank position with your hands under your shoulders and your feet together and legs out straight behind you. Your body should be in a nice straight line from your head to your heels. Brace your abs before you start so that you don’t feel this in your low back or let your hips sag as you run your knees in.
Then, maintaining the nice plank position, begin to run your knees in toward your chest. Bring your right knee in toward your chest with your left leg still out straight. Keep your butt down as you run the knee in.
Then straighten your right leg back out as you bring your left knee in toward your chest. “Run” your knees in as quickly as possible until all reps are complete. The faster you go, the harder the move will be.
Do not let your butt go up in the air or your hips sag as you run your knees in.
To do the two other knee drives, you can either run your knee in toward the outside of the same elbow (The Spiderman Mountain Climber), or you can run your knee in toward the opposite elbow (The Cross-Body Mountain Climber).
You can also make Mountain Climbers more challenging by using towels or paper plates under your feet (or even sliders if you have them).
11. Jump Jack Variations – Jumping Jacks are another one of those go-to moves that gym teachers and trainers alike love to include in their cardio workouts. And while the Basic Jumping Jack is a great full-body cardio move that just about everyone can do, two fun Jumping Jack Variations that we love are the Plank Jack and the Squat Jack.
The Plank Jack is a great cardio-core move that works everything from your shoulders to your knees.
To do Plank Jacks, start at the top of a push up with your hands under your shoulders and your feet together. Your body should be in a nice straight line from your head to your heels.
Brace your abs then jump your feet out wide to each side as if doing a Jumping Jack. Quickly jump them back in together. Repeat, jumping them back out.
Keep your core engaged as you jump your feet in and out. Do not let your butt go up in the air or your hips sag as you jump your feet out wide and then back together.
Beginners may need to start by stepping one foot at a time out wide and then back together.
The Squat Jack is a more leg-intensive Jumping Jack Variation so that you not only get your blood pumping but also your legs burning. It is slightly the reverse of the normal Jumping Jack because you will bring your hands overhead when your feet are together and down to touch the ground when your feet are wide.
To do the Squat Jack, start standing with your feet together. Reach your hands up overhead.
Then sit your butt back and squat down with your feet together, like you are doing chair pose. Get as low as you can, sitting back in your heels. Reach your arms straight up overhead.
Then staying low in the squat, jump your feet out wide, about hip-width to shoulder-width apart. As you jump out, also bring your hands down and in between your legs to reach for the ground. Do not stand up out of the squat as you jump your feet out wide. Try to touch your hands to the ground as you keep your butt down in the squat. Even try to squat lower as you jump your feet out wide.
Then jump your feet back together and bring your hands back overhead.
Stay low in the squat the entire time and move quickly. Try to squat lower as you jump your feet out wide.
Beginners may need to stand up as they bring their feet together and only squat as they jump their feet out.
12. Donkey Kick Sit Thrus – If you want to work your entire core and improve your rotational strength, you need to include Sit Thrus in your cardio routine. If you move quickly, Sit Thrus are sure to get your heart pumping while working your shoulders, abs and quads.
And to make the Basic Sit Thru even harder, you can add in a Donkey Kick. This makes your core work even harder.
To do Donkey Kick Sit Thrus, start on your hands and knees with your knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders. Flex your feet and lift up onto the balls of your feet.
From this position, kick your feet up and out in the air as if sort of trying to kick someone up and behind you. As you come back down to land, land more on one foot.
If you land more on your right, rotate toward your right, lifting your right hand and kicking your left leg under and through. When you kick through, you should almost be able to sit on your butt. This rotational move to kick through is the Sit Thru.
Rotate back to the starting position, pulling your foot back under your body as you place your hand back down on the ground.
Perform another kick and this time land on your left foot and rotate to the left, kicking your right leg under and through as you lift your left hand. Sit through then bring your leg back under and repeat.
Beginners will want to start with the Basic Sit Thru and may even want to do a straight leg variation. The tighter you stay, the harder the move will be because it requires more mobility and strength to stay close and sit through.
13. Skater Hops – Skater Hops are a great bodyweight cardio exercise to strengthen your glutes while improving your balance and core stability.
To do Skater Hops, start standing to one side of the space you have to use. This is a lateral hop so make sure you have space to jump to one side.
Starting to the right, shift your weight so that you are standing on your right foot. Sink down into a little squat and swing your arms down in front of you and out to the right.
Then explode up off the right leg and jump to the side, landing on your left leg. Keep your chest facing straight ahead as you jump and land.
As you land on that left leg, sink into a slight squat, pushing your butt back so that you load your glute to help you jump back laterally to the right.
Use your arms to not only help you balance but also help propel you further when you jump. Let them swing toward whichever side you are jumping to.
Then push off your left leg and jump back right, landing on your right foot. Try not to touch the other foot down when you land. Only touch the other foot down if you need to for balance.
Beginners may need to go slower and not jump as far to each side. While this is a cardio move, you also want to use it to work on your balance. Beginners will want to hold for a second on each leg and balance.
As you advance, do not pause on either side of the jump to balance. You want to jump as far to each side as you can as quickly as possible!
14. Plank Skier Hops – Plank Skier Hops are another Plank Variation that not only blasts your core but also gets your heart rate up and the sweat pouring.
To do Plank Skier Hops, start in the plank position with your hands under your shoulders and your legs together. Your body should be in a nice straight line from your head to your heels.
Then, with your legs together, jump your feet in toward your right elbow, rotating so that your knees come outside your elbow.
Jump back into the plank position with your feet back center and your body in a nice straight line.
Then jump your feet back in, but this time toward your opposite elbow. Rotate to bring your knees toward the outside of your elbow.
Jump your feet back out center.
Do not let your body shift backward as you perform the hops and jump back out. Try to keep your chest over your hands instead of letting your hands get way up by your head.
Keep alternating hops toward each elbow.
15. Forward Jumps – Work on your hip extension while developing glutes strength and power with this cardio exercise. It will work your legs and core in a different way from the Squat Jumps because you are jumping forward instead of trying to jump as high as possible. You do need a bit more room for these jumps so you can jump forward as far as possible.
To do Forward Jumps, set up in the hip hinge position, sitting your butt back as you lean slightly forward with your arms reaching down and back by your hips just like you would for the Jumps for Height.
Really sit your butt back with your knees slightly bent. Your chest will be leaning forward a bit as you sit your butt back, but make sure you don’t round forward.
Driving off your heels jump forward and up, extending your hips and swinging your arms up overhead to propel yourself forward. Jump as far forward as you can.
As you land, sink back into the hinge, bringing your hands back down. Focus on landing softly and sinking right back into the starting position.
The quicker you land and then jump again, the harder the move will be. More core strength is required to keep you balanced with your momentum wanting to propel you forward.
Beginners can start with smaller jumps forward and can pause to balance in the starting position between jumps. They can also start with a hip hinge movement in place without leaving the ground. A quick hip extension in place will train the movement pattern without any impact.
Advanced exercisers will want to jump as far forward as possible as quickly as possible.
16. Circle Shuffle, Sprawl, Sit Thru – Move in every direction and work your legs and core with this cardio sequence. This is a great functional cardio drill because you have to move laterally and change directions quickly while also getting up and down off the ground.
And if you have a partner, you can work on your reaction time by having one partner lead while the other must follow.
To get the most out of this move, make sure to mix things up and change directions often while throwing in Sit Thrus every once in awhile.
To do the Circle Shuffle, Sprawl, Sit Thru, it is good to have a reference point or object to circle around.
To start shuffling, bend your knees with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Move laterally, shuffling around the cone/object.
Make full circles, half circles and even quarter circles, moving both ways. Mix it up. Circle around the cone/object both ways.
While circling mix in a sprawl and sit thru occasionally.
To do the Sprawl and Sit Thru at points while shuffling, drop down to the ground on your hands and the balls of your feet. Your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
Then rotate open toward the right, lifting your right hand and kicking your left leg under and through toward where your right hand was. You should be almost sitting with your left hand down to support you. Then bring the left leg back through so you are back in the starting position on your hands and the balls of your feet.
Next rotate to the left and kick your right leg through and forward as you lift your left hand. Once you’ve done a sit thru to each side, stand back up and begin shuffling again.
Again change direction quickly and don’t just simply shuffle in a full circle. Mix in the Sprawl to Sit Thru every so often to force yourself to work on getting down and up off the ground quickly.
17. Hop Over – Another great lateral cardio move is the Bench Hop Over. This cardio move will work your calves, legs and core.
To do the Bench Hop Over, you need a box, bench, punching bag or any other object you can place your hands on and jump over.
Stand to one side of the bag or bench with your feet together. Place your hands down on the bag, and putting weight on your hands, jump your feet over the bag to the other side.
Keep your feet together as you jump.
As soon as you land, jump your feet back over the bag. Continue to do quick hops back and forth over the bag using the support of your hands.
Move as quickly as possible, hopping back and forth.
Beginners may need to jump one foot over at a time or even have their hands up on something, but not actually jump over anything so that they don’t have to jump more than an inch or two off the ground.
18. Lunge Matrix/Lunge Sequences – Not every bodyweight cardio move has to involve jumping or super quick movements. Sometimes simply moving at a constant speed while working the big muscles of your body is enough to get your blood pumping.
Sometimes simply combining a few different lunges in a few different directions is enough.
The Lunge Matrix is a combination of 7 different lunges you can use to move in every direction. And if you do all 7 in a sequence or even pick out 2 or 3 to do in a row, you can really get yourself out of breath while strengthening your legs from every angle.
Check out the Lunge Matrix here for all 7 lunges.
One of our favorite 2 lunge sequences is the Side Lunge to Curtsy Lunge.
To do the Side Lunge to Curtsy Lunge, start lunging with the left leg.
Step your left foot out toward “9″ on the clock. As you lunge out to the side, you are going to bend the left knee and sit your butt back. Keep your right leg straight as you sink into the Side Lunge. Both toes should be pointing straight ahead. Keep your left heel down as you push your butt back and keep your chest up.
Then drive back up to standing, pushing off your left foot. If you need to, touch your foot down before moving into the Curtsy Lunge. If you don’t need to, move right into the Curtsy Lunge.
Lunge back behind your right leg with your left foot going toward about “5″ on the clock. Make sure you step far enough back that you can bend both knees and sink down into a deep lunge.
Keep your right heel down on the ground and your chest up as you sink into the lunge. Make sure your stance isn’t too narrow so that you end up going forward. Really focus on sitting back and feeling the outside of your front glute and hip (your right side) working.
Come back to standing center or push right back into the Side Lunge and repeat the sequence on that same side.
19. Fake Jump Rope/Agility Ladder – When we were kids Jumping Rope was considered play and now it can still be a fun cardio exercise with a variety of different types of hops you can do. Same with the Agility Ladder. It can also be a fun cardio exercise because we get to twist and turn and hop just like we did as kids with hopscotch and such.
Plus both are not only a great way to get in your cardio, but also improve your coordination and mind-body connection.
Even if you don’t actually have a jump rope or an agility ladder, you can use these drills to get in a great workout at home.
You can do Fake Jump Rope, by simply pretending to turn handles as you perform little hops. You can even do a run in place or pretend to do double unders. You can mix things up and have a little fun even if you don’t have a jump rope!
And even if you don’t have an Agility Ladder, you can do the drills using cones or books or even just your imagination and the space you have in your living room (you can even do them in place!). Or you can go out and draw a ladder with chalk on your driveway or sidewalk!
The point is to do the drills to improve your coordination and mind-body connection while getting your heart rate up.
As you learn the drills and can do them correctly, try to do them faster and faster. Do not simply do them fast without doing them correctly or you won’t get as much out of the movements. While it will still get your heart rate up, it won’t improve your coordination!
Click here for 30 Agility Ladders Drills.
20. Single Leg Deadlift Hops – All too often we only do bilateral movements that don’t force each side to work independently. If we never force each side to work independently, we never give our weaker side a chance to get stronger because our stronger side will always just take over. If our stronger side can also compensate for our weaker side, we are going to develop, and even perpetuate, imbalances that can lead to injury.
That is why it is important to include unilateral movements even in your cardio routine!
The Single Leg Deadlift Hop is a great unilateral cardio move to not only improve your balance but also your glute and hamstring strength as well as your core stability.
To do the Single Leg Deadlift Hop, stand on one leg with the knee soft and the toe of your other foot lightly touching the ground.
Hinge over, pushing your butt back and leaning your chest over toward the ground. Keep your back flat as you hinge over and lift your other leg back toward the wall behind you. You will want to swing your arms as if running as you do the hinge and hop.
As you hinge over, the opposite arm of your standing leg should be forward while the same arm will be back.
Hinge over quickly, bending the standing leg just a little.
Then quickly drive back up to standing, exploding up off the ground as you come back up. As you jump up off the ground, bring the back knee up and forward. Your chest should be up nice and tall as you hop off the ground. Your other arm will also swing forward as you jump while the arm that was forward in the hinge goes back.
Using your arms can help propel you up higher.
Land back on the same leg and hinge back over before jumping back up.
You do not have to jump super high for this move to challenge you. Focus on landing only on one leg and maintaining your balance throughout the reps.
Bodyweight Cardio Workouts
All of those 20 Bodyweight Cardio Exercises can easily be done at home and are sure to give you a great full-body workout.
Here are two different cardio workouts you can do using these moves.
The 10 Second Cardio Blast
Set a timer for 10 second intervals. Go right from one exercise to the next without resting in between. Rest for 30-50 seconds between rounds. Complete 5-8 rounds of each of the circuits. Rest 2-3 minutes between circuits.
10 seconds Burpees
10 seconds Mountain Climbers
10 seconds Squat Jacks
10 seconds Plank Skier Hops
10 seconds Forward Hops
30-50 seconds Rest
10 seconds Circle Shuffle, Sprawl, Sit Thru
10 seconds Squat Jumps
10 seconds Plyo Push Ups
10 seconds Skater Hops
10 seconds Plank Jacks
30-50 seconds Rest
The 30/30 Workout
Set a timer for 30 seconds of work, 30 seconds of rest. Complete one exercise, rest 30 seconds, then move to the next move. Advanced exercisers shouldn’t take an extended break between rounds. Beginners may need to take 1 minute between rounds. Complete 5-8 rounds of the circuit below.
30 seconds Towel Taz
30 seconds Rest
30 seconds Split Squat Jumps
30 seconds Rest
30 seconds Crawling
30 seconds Rest
30 seconds Box Shuffle
30 seconds Rest
30 seconds Donkey Kick Sit Thrus
30 seconds Rest
With both of these workouts, you can really sub in any of the 20 moves and get in a killer cardio workout!