Cardio. For most fitness junkies, this is a passion they just can’t get enough of, and with good reason. Cardio, short for cardiovascular exercise should form one of the key components of every fitness plan that should never be left out of a fitness plan. It is basically any kind of movement that increases your heart rate and boosts blood circulation throughout the body.
Benefits Of A Cardio Workout
Any regular cardio program offers a variety of benefits such as:
- Weight Loss
- Improved Heart Health
- Increased Metabolism
- Helps Fight Stress
- Faster Muscle Repair And Recovery
- Helps Control Diabetes
Why You Should Ditch The Gym And Workout At Home Instead
You may think the gym is the best place for a cardio because of all the fancy equipment they advertise, but no. It really isn’t for a variety of reasons.
- Hard On Your Pocket – You are welcome to get access all that gym equipment as long as you shell out a hefty monthly fee, which you can very well save by doing your cardio at home.
- Redundant Workout – The movement patterns on most treadmills and ellipticals are neither too varied, nor functional. For instance, all the strides and completely redundant repetitions you put in on an hour’s worth of workout on a particular elliptical serve very little functional purpose when it comes to performing everyday activities. You usually just end up forcing minimally useful ranges of movement repeatedly that eat into your time.
- Easier To “Cheat” – Gym equipment makes it incredibly easy to “cheat” on or to completely zone out of your workout completely. Plenty of people spend an hour or more on one particular machine, with half of their attention either on the LCD screen in front of them, or reading a magazine. They allow the machine to guide their movement, moving along with it slowly with no attention to their form whatsoever and not breaking into even a slight sweat.
When the person gets off the equipment, the screen tells him that he’s burned about 800 calories in 60 minutes. However, in reality, he’s only burned about half as many calories because he has actually worked very few muscles in very few ways that have caused little to no metabolic disturbance in his body.
While it is true that a little activity is much better than no activity at all, there is much easier and effective way to go about with weight loss and fitness, which will adequately challenge muscle coordination, body balance, agility, and proprioception (the sense of how you move your limbs are in relation to your own body, and your environment which is vital when working out).
Easy No-Equipment Cardio Workout For Home
Skip the gym and all those cardio machines; here are some fun, challenging, and effective cardio exercises that will up your heart rate in the comfort of your own home.
How It Works
- Start with the four warm-up exercises.
- Move immediately into the main circuit. Perform each exercise as fast as you can for 1 minute, without any rest between the moves.
- After you finish one round of the whole circuit, rest for 1 minute.
- Now repeat the main circuit without the warm up, 2 more times. You can even do it thrice if you have the time and energy.
- Finish off and cool down with the yoga moves.
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1. Warm Up Exercises
i. Reverse Lunges
- Take one large step backward with your left foot.
- Bend both your knees to lower yourself into a lunge, making sure your right knee is parallel to your right ankle and does not push too far beyond your toes.
- Push against the ball of your right big toe to return your body to standing position.
- Repeat the whole thing, but this time start with stepping back with your right leg. This becomes one rep.
- Do a total of 10 reps, keeping your chest up the entire time.
ii. Squat With Arms Overhead
- Stand with both your feet hip-width apart while keeping your arms up, palms facing each other.
- Bend both your knees and move your hips backward as though you are about to sit in a chair.
- Draw your shoulder blades downwards and back. Apply your glutes to return your body to standing. Position. This becomes one rep.
- Do a total of 10 reps.
- Lie on the floor (mat optional) facing upwards, with your feet placed directly below your knees.
- Place your hands by your sides and work your glutes to push or lift your hips upwards, off the ground.
- Slowly lower yourself back onto the floor. Keep your neck and back muscles relaxed as you use your glutes and hamstrings to lift your body up and down.
- Repeat this 10 times.
iv. Plank With Shoulder Touches
- Lie down on your tummy and put yourself in a straight-arm plank position with your hands placed directly under your shoulders. Your body should form a straight line from your neck to your feet.
- Without moving your hips, touch your right hand to your left shoulder.
- Bring your right hand back to position underneath the right shoulder.
- Now touch your left hand to your right shoulder and bring it back to position underneath your left shoulder.
- Repeat each side for 10 times.
Now that you’re done with the warm ups, you can move on to the main set.
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2. Main Set
i. Mountain Climbers
- Bring your body into a straight-arm plank position with your hands placed directly below your shoulders. Make sure your body forms a straight line all the way from your neck to your ankles.
- Lift up your right foot and pull your right knee up towards the center of your body.
- Quickly switch legs and repeat, driving your left knee up towards the center of your body. Try to not move your hips and ensure your shoulders are directly above your wrists at all times.
- Repeat as many times as possible for 1 minute.
- Stand up straight and tall and place your feet hip-width apart.
- Bend both your knees, swing both your arms backward, and drive yourself off ground as high as possible.
- Land softly and immediately bend your knees, place hands on the floor in front of you, and jump your feet all the way back so you end up in a plank position.
- Lower your chest to perform a pushup.
- Jump both feet back in and stand.
- Immediately jump up to repeat.
- Do as many reps as you can for 1 minute.
iii. Squat Jumps
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Push your hips backward and bend your knees to lower yourself into a squat (almost as if you’re preparing to leap).
- Jump and push yourself off the ground as high as you can.
- Land softly on your feet and immediately squat to prepare for a second jump.
- Jump again, imagining that you’re pushing the floor away from yourself as you leap. You may use your arms to help you jump higher.
- Do as many of these squat jumps as possible for a total of 1 minute.
iv. Skier Jumps
- Stand tall and straight with your feet, ankles, and knees touching, almost as if glued to each other.
- With your chest straight, jump from side to side as fast as possible. Landing softly after each jump. The height of the jumps doesn’t matter, just focus on the speed. The faster, the more effective this exercise.
- Do as many jumps as you can for 1 minute.
v. Pilates 100
- Lie on the floor facing upwards with your hands by your side, your knees and hips bent at 90 degrees.
- Lift your head, shoulders, and upper back off the ground, almost as if curling your body inwards, and begin to pulse your arms while taking in long, deep breaths.
- Inhale for 10 counts, exhale for 10 counts. Your core should remain engaged the entire time so that everything except your arms stays dead still.
- Continue taking deep breaths until you finish a 100 arms pulses.
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3. Cool Down
i. Downward Dog
- Bring your body onto your hands and your knees, placing your hands directly below your shoulders, while your knees stay directly below your hips.
- Spread your fingers wide apart and tuck your toes under your feet, digging them into the floor.
- Inhale deeply and lift your knees off the floor, pushing your hips upwards towards the ceiling.
- Bring your heels down to the floor.
- Press the palms of your hands firmly into the floor and draw your shoulder blades downwards. Keep your head between the arms but don’t let it hang.
- Take as many deep breaths as you can.
ii. Cat And Cow
- Bring your body onto your hands and knees with hands placed directly below your shoulders and your knees placed directly below your hips. Inhale to increase the length of your spine.
- Without bending your elbows or moving hips, curl your spine inwards to arch your back.
- Now lift your chin, chest, and hips towards the ceiling, while allowing your stomach to sink towards the floor.
- Once your body has reached the fullest expression of this arch, roll your spine outwards, towards the ceiling and let your head bend towards the floor.
- Move fluidly for as many deep breaths as you like.
- Stand straight with your feet placed wider than hip-width apart.
- Curl your right toes outwards and your left toes slightly inwards.
- Slowly bend your right knee and lower your hips downwards. Make sure your right knee is directly in line with your ankle. Stretch your arms straight out from your shoulders and push your left foot into the floor. Continue to sink yourself lower into your hips as your spine stays upright and long.
- Take as many deep breaths as desired.