Most of us hear the term “cardio exercise” and immediately think of running, aerobics at the gym, biking, and swimming. But there are other cardio exercises you can do at home that don’t require a lot of time or space. They’re called “compound exercises,” and they help elevate your heart rate and improve coordination.
Health experts recommend doing a cardio workout at least two or three times every week. To do compound cardio exercises, you can combine some of the simple exercises outlined below into one workout, making sure to rest 30 seconds between each type of exercise.
To do this cardio exercise, stand in front of a sturdy box or bench that will support your weight. Place your right foot firmly on top of the bench/box and your left foot flat on the floor. Start by tapping the bench/box with your right foot and then quickly tapping the box with your left foot. That counts as one rep. Do four to five sets of 10 reps.
Lateral Toe Taps
For this exercise, you can place either a dumbbell or cone — or any kind of “target” — between your feet. Start your reps with your right foot placed on top of the target. Quickly switch your feet and place your left foot on top of the target. This counts as one rep. Alternate your feet while tapping your toes lightly on the target, doing six to eight sets of eight reps.
Mountain Climber Pushup
Begin this exercise in the “high plank” position. Your shoulders should be directly over your wrists, and your hips should be tucked upward. Next, drive each knee (one knee after the other) up toward your chest. Do this eight times, and then do two pushups. Do this exercise for six to eight sets of 20 seconds.
The fast-feet drop requires you to start the exercise in an “athletic stance” with your hips back and a straight posture. Then move your feet up and down quickly with light feet taps. After five seconds, drop your entire body to the floor and then immediately jump back up to your feet. Do six to eight reps of 20 seconds.
As you bend your right knee 90 degrees, cross your left leg behind your right leg. Move your right arm out to the side while you swing your left arm across your right leg. Next, jump two to three feet to the other side, and at the same time change the position of your arms and legs. This counts as one rep. Do six to eight sets of eight reps.
You’ll need a set of dumbbells for this exercise. Start by holding the dumbbells at shoulder height. Make sure your elbows are bent and your palms face each other. Place your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees and then lower into a squat by sitting your hips back. Explode back up and lift the dumbbells directly overhead until your arms are fully extended. Pause shortly before lowering the weights as you squat. This counts as one rep. Do six to eight sets of eight reps.
Lateral Shuffle Taps
Start lateral shuffle taps by standing in an “athletic stance.” Make sure your feet are wider than hip-distance apart. Then shuffle twice to the left. Touch the ground. Then shuffle back the other direction. Touch the ground. This counts as one rep. Do four to five sets of 10 reps.
Mini-Band Frog Jumps
Standing up, place a mini-resistance band below your knees but above your ankles. Place your feet just over hip-width apart. Slightly turn your feet out. Squat down, placing your hands on the ground in between your legs while keeping your chin and chest up. Spring up, and throw your arms into the air. Your body should be fully extended as you reach the top of your jump. Bound back down into the frog squat position. This counts as one rep. Do six to eight sets of eight reps.
To do rollbacks, begin in a standing position. Then, in a single motion, sit down on the floor and roll back. As you roll back, drive your hips and heels up toward the ceiling. Then roll back, putting your feet back on the ground and standing up, all in one motion. That’s one rep. Do four to give sets of 10 reps.
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You don’t actually need a jump rope for this. Just use a jump rope movement. Make sure you stand completely straight up with your elbows in close to your ribs. Then proceed to “jump rope” as you jump forward, backward, and side to side. Do six to eight sets of 20 seconds.
For more compound cardio exercise ideas, check out Women’s Health.