By Kara Mayer Robinson
For days when you don’t feel like going to the gym or gearing up for an outdoor workout like running or biking, make it simple with these at-home cardio workouts.
Circuit training pumps up your heart rate and builds strength in a short amount of time.
To create an at-home circuit, first choose three to four cardio exercises like jumping jacks, jogging in place, step-ups, mountain climbers, burpees, and jumping rope. Then choose three strength training exercises like pushups, planks, abdominal crunches, tricep dips, wall sits, lunges, and squats.
Alternate between cardio and strength training exercises. Do 30-second bursts of each for 3 to 4 minutes. Repeat this circuit two to three times.
Jumping rope burns calories, elevates your heart rate, and improves coordination, muscle elasticity, and brain function. Plus, it’s fun, easy, and takes up very little space.
After a short warmup, do 30-second intervals of jumps, followed by 15 to 30 seconds of rest. Mix it up with a combination of single-leg jumps, split-leg jumps, wide-to-narrow jumps, running in place, and taking off and landing on both feet.
Bump up the time as you get better. Cool down with calf and quadriceps stretches.
Box or Kickbox
“Think inside the box,” says Grant Roberts, an Internal Sports Medicine Association-certified fitness trainer who works with celebs like Eva Longoria and Zachary Levi. Boxing and kickboxing are stellar conditioning workouts you can easily do at home while channeling your inner aggressor and relieving stress.
Fire up YouTube or on-demand TV for a wide range of boxing and kickboxing workouts to follow along with at home. Or create your own. Alternate 1-minute intervals of jabs, crosses, and kicks and 1-minute intervals of active recovery like shadow boxing, jogging in place, or skipping rope. Gradually increase the time of your active intervals. “If you can work your way up to three 12-minute rounds with 1-minute rests in between, you’ll feel like a champion,” Roberts says.
“Got some stairs in your home?” asks Roberts. “Include them in your cardio workout.” An at-home stair-climbing workout is about as simple as it gets. Set a timer for your preferred workout length, walk up and down your stairs, and repeat until it beeps. Start with just a few minutes, then work your way up to longer stair-climbing workouts as you feel stronger.
Strength training bonus: Take breaks for calf raises. Put the balls of your feet on one step, then use your calf muscles to raise up as high as you can. Lower your body as far as you can, then return to your starting position and repeat.