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Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced Cardio Exercises Without Equipment

cardio exercise, home workout

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Yes, it’s possible to stay fit without a gym. Gyms are nice and convenient—they provide every piece of equipment one might need to perform every exercise ever known.  

But we’re going to talk about getting your workouts in without the use of equipment. Further, we’re going to explore a wide variety of exercises ranging from simple movements to more intense exercises that may leave you huffing and puffing (that’s a good thing!). 

Beginner cardio exercises without equipment

For those of you just starting your fitness journey—skip the free gym pass and begin with these.

Stretching

Although not usually categorized as a cardio exercise, stretching can surely increase the heart-rate and provide a beginner’s aerobic workout, as well as a warm- up. 

Try holding active stretches rather than passive ones. For example, stretching the quads requires you to balance on one leg, which is a very active way of stretching. Going limp on a forward bend, on the other hand, is a passive way of stretching. 

Here are some more stretches that I suggest:

  • Side-stretch – Stand up straight. Raise your arms over your head and interlace all of your fingers other than your pointer fingers and thumbs for more stability. Lean to one side while ensuring your lower back and the rest of your torso remains in alignment. Switch sides after five-or-so deep breaths.
  • Seated forward-bend – Sit with your legs extended. While trying to maintain a straight back, lean forward, bending at the hips while reaching for your feet (Think of reaching your chin to your toes rather than your head to your toes). Breathe into this stretch for ten to twenty breaths.
  • Upper-cobra pose – For this core stretch, begin on your belly. Bring your hands under your chest, untuck your toes, and straighten your arms in front of you, allowing your legs to lift from the ground. Tighten your glutes to lessen any lower-back pressure while actively bending from your upper back. Hold for five deep breaths.

Jogging in place

Jogging in place is appropriate as both a warm-up or part of the bulk of your workout. Choose your pace and duration accordingly. Once you improve your cardio, you’ll be able to pick up the pace and bring your jog to more of a run.

Stair-stepping

Find an uncrowded staircase and walk up and down it. This may even be available in your own home.

Take it slow. I added this exercise to the beginner cardio exercises without equipment section because it’s basically like walking uphill. But if you move at too fast a pace, you’ll wear yourself out fast. Aim to start small and build your way up.

Intermediate cardio exercises without equipment

After you’ve been jogging in place, stair-stepping, and working with stretches for a while, you’ll be ready to begin some intermediate movements to further challenge your body.

Walkouts

Walkouts are great for challenging the arms, core, and yes, cardio. 

To do a walkout, simply stand, then bend at the hips to reach for the ground (with straight legs), walk (on your hands) to a push-up position, and then walk back to standing. Accomplishing a few sets of five to ten walkouts is a good starting point.  Here is an example.

Jumping jacks

Jumping jacks are perfect to do anywhere at any time and the perfect addition to a somewhat challenging cardio workout. 

As with many of these exercises, it’s all about duration. If you perform jumping jacks for ten seconds, for example, you probably won’t get much of a workout. But trying them for 3 minutes will give you noticeable results. Do multiple sets or coupling them with other exercises from the “intermediate” list.

High knees

This is a notable step up from simply jogging in place. This simple cardio exercise only requires that you run in place while bringing your knees close to your chest in a tucking motion. 

Adding high knees to your workout will build your endurance and strengthen your legs as well. Do a few sets of these for a few minutes each to really grow in your cardio.

Advanced cardio exercises without equipment 

Once your journey with cardio has progressed, you’ll be able to transition into more advanced movements. Before performing these, I suggest acquainting yourself with the beginning and intermediate exercises to increase your strength, stamina, and overall able-bodiedness. When the intermediate exercises are no longer a challenge, you can try these advanced cardio exercises without equipment.

Jump squats 

Follow these steps to perform jump squats safely and effectively.

  1. Spread your legs out wide and turn your feet out slightly.
  2. Come down to a squat, bringing your hands in front of your chest.
  3. Launch yourself into the air, reaching your arms over your head and pushing your chest out.
  4. When landing, be sure to bend your knees immediately, coming back down to the squat.
  5. Repeat ten to twenty times.

Jump squats are a pretty challenging exercise. Prioritize safety and correct form, and again, be sure to land lightly to protect those knees!

Jump lunges

Jump lunges definitely should be added to the list of advanced cardio exercises without equipment. They’re an advanced exercise that will make your heart pump as if you’re sprinting! Here are some instructions.

  1. Start in a lunge. Bring one foot in front of the other and bend it to a ninety-degree angle. 
  2. Next, jump and scissor the legs, landing with the opposite leg in front of the other (and again at a ninety-degree angle). 
  3. Repeat ten to twenty times. 

As with jump squats, it’s essential to land softly, with bent legs to protect the knees. 

Overall, adding jump lunges to your routine will provide a challenging, equipment-free way to add variety to your cardio exercises.

Burpees

The word “burpees” evokes varied reactions from people–from fear to pride. Burpees are the famous jump-land-leap back to plank-leap back forward-and then jump into the air again-exercise! 

Burpees are a wise addition to an advanced cardio workout. They not only work the heart, but the arms, core, and legs as well. They’ll leave you feeling like you had a great workout! Learn how to do it here.

Start small and build your way up

Whether you’re new to fitness or are just getting back into it, anyone can benefit from cardio exercises without equipment.

Note that you can never go wrong with using the beginner movements even if they seem easy. If you have strong endurance, try using some of them (and maybe the intermediate movements, too) as a warm- up. 

You can use these exercises as a complete cardio session or work them into your regular routine. Combining some or all of these exercises into a cardio routine is a great way to add variety and a new challenge to your workout. 

If you need to build up to this type of cardio, keep in mind that you can always go back to a less challenging exercise or slow down. 

If the beginner and intermediate exercises feel easy, you can jump right into the advanced cardio exercises without equipment!

Want to learn more ways to optimize your health? Visit the TelMD Upstream Blog!

Let’s make wellness contagious!™️

cardio exercise, home workout

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