Equipment-Free Cardio


Tired of the typical cardio machines, but want to keep your heart healthy? Cardio is more than just running, biking, or elliptical-ing. Many people don’t like cardio because it can be tedious or boring, but it does not have to be that way! 

There are many things you can do to get your heart pumping and blood moving instead of just the traditional 30 minute sessions on the machines in the gym:

MOUNTAIN CLIMBER Starting on your hands and knees, bring the left foot forward directly under the chest while straightening the right leg. Keeping the hands on the ground and core tight, jump and switch legs. The left leg should now be extended behind the body with the right knee forward.

BURPEES One of the most effective full-body exercises around, this one starts out in a low squat position with hands on the floor. Next, kick the feet back and lower your entire body to the ground, then immediately return the feet to the squat position. Leap up as high as possible before squatting and moving back into the push-up portion of the move.

  • You can also start out less intensely and do up downs instead, which is the same as a burpee without lowering yourself all the way to the ground; jump feet back into high plank position and then immediately back into squat position.

HIGH KNEES Start off as if you were going to run in place but bring your knees to waist level. Stay on your toes and don’t let both feet be on the ground at the same time

BUTT KICKERS Start off running in place but bring the heels of your feet back like you are trying to kick your own butt. Just like with high knees stay quick on your toes and don’t let both feet be on the ground at the same time.

JUMPING JACKS Don’t forget about this classic full body movement. Make sure your core is tight as you are moving your arms and legs.

Jumps - Jumping has its own category in cardio. It’s a great way to get the heart pumping as well as working the lower body, speed, quickness, and agility!

TUCK JUMP Standing with the knees slightly bent, jump up as high as possible and bring knees in toward the chest while extending the arms straight out. Land with the knees slightly bent and quickly jump (on it) again!

LATERAL JUMP Find a line on the ground and with feet together hop over & back. You can go for a set time or reps.

SKI JUMPS A type of lateral jump that is more dynamic. Start with feet together and leap sideways to the right with your right foot about the distance of your outstretched arm. Have the left leg follow and sweep behind (like a speed skater). Be quick on your feet. You can go for time or reps.

BOX/BENCH JUMPS Find a stable surface of some sort and jump up! Make sure it isn’t too take that you can make it. 12-18 inches is a good starting height. Make sure to take off on both feet and land lightly on both feet. Step down and repeat.

  • Another variation of box jumps are dynamic step ups which are a combination of step ups and box jumps. Step up with one foot and switch to the other foot at the top of the box and come down on the foot that was first on the box. Keep a good tempo and feel the burn.

JUMP ROPE This one does require a piece of equipment, but it’s super easy to travel with. Throwback to your elementary school years and get the rope turning. Start slow to get a rhythm and then start turning the rope fast to make your jumping faster. There are many variations of jump rope as well.

  • Singles (one jump per rope turn)
  • High singles (jumping higher)
  • Single leg hops (remember to get the other leg)
  • Double unders (turning the rope twice under you as you jump. This one takes a LOT of practice).

Doing each of these movements for 20 seconds to a minute with 10-15 seconds of rest in between sets will keep your heart rate up and get you moving and sweating!