9 Moves for a Cardio Workout at Home—No Equipment Required

Stay in your living room and still spike your heart rate.

Sure, you can schlep to the gym and hop on the elliptical for 45 minutes. Or you can lace up your sneakers and head outside for a long run to turn up your heart rate and calorie burn. 

But when the temperatures drop, or you don't have time to leave your house, you can squeeze in a solid cardio workout at home. All you need is a little room to move—and the ability to push yourself, just enough so your heart starts pumping and the sweat starts flowing.

How can you do that? Two words: Plyometric exercises.


Benefits of Plyometric Exercises

Plyometrics exercises use the speed and force of different movements to build muscle power. The workouts ignite fast-twitch muscle fibers, made for short, powerful bursts of energy.

"[Those] exercises are perfect for a cardio workout at home, as they save space and time because it requires max effort. And thus, less overall time spent, while also offering strength, power, and cardio benefits," Judine Saint Gerard, NASM-CPT, head coach at Tone House in New York, told Health. "With these added benefits of strength and power, it may be even better than just trotting away on the elliptical."

The key to working hard enough to reap all the fitness rewards is firing up your core temperature, so you start dripping sweat. 

"Most cardio workouts produce heat in the body. The more strenuous the workout, the more heat it produces, and sweating is the body's way of cooling down," said Saint Gerard. 

If you work through a cardio workout at home and finish it sweat-free, you'll want to power up your intensity on the next go around. That means working faster or taking fewer breaks.

Saint Gerard recommended the perfect routine if you need a cardio workout to kick off your at-home training. Here, Saint Gerard offers 10 plyometric exercises and tips on how to time them to your heart-pumping advantage. 

Each one also has a low-impact variation for anyone jumping back into fitness after a long hiatus or starting a regular exercise routine for the first time and innovative options for those with injuries. 

You only have to remember to work hard, so you get sweaty. So, don't be too easy on yourself.

The 9-Move Cardio Workout

If you're opting for the high-impact plyometric moves, do each exercise below for 30 seconds, and rest for 30 seconds between each exercise.

Prefer staying on two feet and skipping the jumps? Follow the modified moves for 30 seconds each, with just 15 seconds of rest between each exercise. 

Do two to three rounds with 60 to 90 seconds of rest between each round. The best part: The more you practice, the less rest you'll need.

Mountain Climbers

  1. Start in a plank position, shoulders over wrists, forming a straight line from shoulders to heels.
  2. Keep your core tight and your back flat. Drive one knee in toward your chest, then place it back down.
  3. Immediately drive the opposite knee toward your chest. Then, place it back down. Continue alternating.

Modification: Eliminate the hop and slow down your pace, still driving one knee at a time toward your chest.


  1. Start standing, feet hip-width apart.
  2. Place both hands flat onto the ground before you and hop your feet behind you into a plank. Keep your hips and core tight, forming a straight line from shoulders to heels.
  3. Then, quickly hop your feet back up toward your hands.
  4. Jump up to stand, bringing your arms above your head and exploding off your feet. Repeat.

Modification: Place your hands flat on the ground, step your left foot back, then step your right foot back and pause in the plank. Then, step your left foot in and right foot in, and stand back up, bringing your arms overhead.

Lunge Jumps

  1. Start standing, feet together.
  2. Step your left leg back and lower into a lunge, both knees bent 90 degrees, your back right knee hovering off the floor.
  3. Push through the heel of your front left leg to explode up, switching feet in the air.
  4. Land softly back into a lunge position, right foot forward. Repeat with the right foot forward and continue alternating.

Modification: Instead of jumping up from the lunge, drive through the front leg heel and bring the back knee up toward the chest. Then, kick it straight out in front of you. Place the foot back down and step back with the opposite foot. Continue alternating lunges with a front kick.

Squat Jumps

  1. Start standing, feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.
  2. Push your hips back and down, keeping weight in the heels as you lower into a squat.
  3. Explode off your feet, extending your hips to jump into the air.
  4. Land softly back into a squat position, knees bent. Repeat.

Modification: Eliminate the jump and push the pace of a regular bodyweight squat.


  1. Start in a plank position, shoulders over your wrists, forming a straight line from shoulders to heels.
  2. Hop your feet in so your hips drive straight into the air and hit a reverse V-shape.
  3. Then, hop your feet back to a plank position. Repeat.

Modification: From your plank position, walk your feet up toward your hands to create the reverse V-shape, and then walk them back to a plank. Repeat while pushing your pace.

Skater Jumps​​​​​​​

  1. Start standing, feet hip-width apart.
  2. Push off your left foot to hop to the right, landing with a bent knee. Keeping your hips back and chest up, bring your left foot behind your right foot.
  3. Then, push off your right foot, hopping to the left. Continue alternating.

Modification: Alternate curtsy lunges by stepping one foot diagonally behind you, lowering into a lunge position with your knees bent 90 degrees. Step back up to standing and repeat on the other side. Continue alternating.

Tuck Jumps

  1. Start standing, feet hip-width apart.
  2. Lower into a shallow squat position and then explode into the air, driving your knees up into your chest.
  3. Land softly back down with bent knees. Repeat.

Modification: Start in a kneeling position. Step left forward and then right, coming into a low squat position. Then, stand up. Lower back into a squat. Then, place the left leg back down to kneeling, followed by the right leg. Repeat, starting with the right leg. Continue alternating.

Lateral Hurdle Hops​​​​​​​

  1. Start standing, feet together.
  2. Place a yoga block or band next to you (or pretend there is a hurdle next to you). Bend your knees slightly and drive up and over, hopping over the "hurdle" as you drive your knees up.
  3. Land softly with bent knees. Repeat, hopping to the other side. Continue alternating.

Modification: Instead of jumping over the "hurdle," step over it, starting with the knee closest to the hurdle and still driving the knees up toward your chest. Keep your arms straight overhead as you go.

High Knees

  1. Start standing, feet together.
  2. Drive one knee toward your chest, with the opposite arm driving forward (elbows bent 90 degrees).
  3. Quickly place the foot back down and drive the other knee up and the opposite arm forward.
  4. Continue alternating, landing lightly with each step like you're running in place.

Modification: March the knees up toward the chest, eliminating the hop.

A Quick Review

Plyometrics exercises use the speed and force of different movements to build muscle power. Those high-impact and intense exercises increase your heart rate and burn calories.

These 9 exercises are perfect for getting in a challenging workout at home. They require maximum effort—and less overall time—while offering strength, power, and cardio benefits.

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