A No-Equipment Cardio Workout

Includes the most effective plank you’ll ever try

A No-Equipment Cardio Workout

What type of physical activity strengthens your heart and lungs, improves cognitive performance, helps you maintain a healthy body weight and gives you more energy?

If you’re thinking cardio exercise—defined as any exercise that raises your heart rate—you’re a clever one (and probably pretty fit, too).

In this workout, we’re focusing on vigorous-intensity cardio exercise performed in a structured manner. You’ll be alternating between short periods of hard effort and rest/recovery (aka high-intensity interval training, or HIIT). You’ll get a fantastic workout in a short period of time—and without any equipment!

Set a timer for 30-second intervals, with 10 seconds in between (to rest and prepare for the next exercise). Perform this workout as a circuit. Beginners aim for four rounds; cardio pros aim for six rounds.

Jump squats

Muscles worked: Quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves

Jump squats are one of the most challenging bodyweight cardio moves you can perform. They’re an explosive movement (also called plyometric), and thus improve your power, speed and overall athleticism. When it comes to increasing your heart rate in a short period of time, nothing beats plyometrics!

  • Start in a squat position, with knees bent at 90 degrees and hips hinged back behind you.
  • Explosively jump into the air as high as you can, and return back to the squat position as you descend. Repeat reps as quickly as possible while maintaining good form.
  • Make sure you land softly, absorbing each jump’s impact with the next squat.

RKC plank

Muscles worked: Core, shoulders, glutes

Surprised to see a plank in a cardio workout? With a few slight tweaks, we’re turning the standard plank into a heart rate-boosting, sweat-inducing exercise that’s also much more effective for strengthening your core.

  • Start in a plank position, with your forearms and toes on the ground, elbows positioned directly under your shoulders, hands interlocked, and feet hip-width apart.
  • Posteriorly tilt your pelvis to minimize the curve in your low back. Now imagine dragging your elbows all the way down toward your toes, as hard as you can. Your body won’t move, but your core muscles will fire up much more than they would in a standard plank.
  • Keep this “pulling” motion going while squeezing your glutes, quads and upper back muscles as hard as you can. If you perform this move correctly for 30 seconds, your abs will feel like they’ve just done a 3-minute plank!

Lateral line jumps

Muscles worked: Quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves

Increase your agility, balance, lower body strength and cardiovascular capacity with this exercise. Jumping requires a lot of effort from your muscles, which quickly increases your heart rate.

  • Stand with your feet together and knees slightly bent, with a resistance band, crack in the sidewalk or imaginary line on the ground to your right.
  • Hop off both feet, jumping over the line. Land softly, then immediately hop back to the other side. Continue jumping back and forth for the duration of the exercise.