It may be chilly outdoors, but that doesn’t mean you get to put the freeze on your workouts. With a little ingenuity, the right music, and a little bit of fun tossed in, you may even find yourself enjoying these at-home cardio workouts more than you thought possible!
Depending on your budget and the space available to you, you can get a solid cardio workout in at home. Whether you use your own body weight, DVDs, online classes, or a piece of home cardio equipment, you can achieve your goals without stepping foot outside.
Best At-Home Cardio Equipment
While there are, indeed, options for at-home cardio workouts, if you do elect to go with home cardiovascular equipment, you might want to take a look at the following. Keep in mind that cardio exercise equipment will require an investment, probably more space than whatever you had in mind, and you may need an electrician to outfit your electrical system to properly accommodate the needs of your machinery.
Treadmill—there are many options for home treadmills. They come in various sizes and price ranges, and you can purchase any quality from the foldable to commercial grade. Treadmills are a wonderful piece of equipment to have as part of your cardio routine, especially for those days when you just can’t get outside in the weather.
Elliptical—this type of at-home cardio workout equipment is extremely popular. Ellipticals are gentle on your joints as they move in a more circular fashion without jarring stops and starts. Just like with a treadmill, you can go cheap all the way up to commercial grade. Usually, the more money you spend, the smoother and easier to operate the piece of equipment, and ellipticals are no different. If possible, try before you buy to ensure smooth, stress-free movement.
Rowing machine—while these nifty little machines may seem relatively fun and innocent at first glance, they actually pack an intense, powerful punch when it comes to getting in your exercise. Since you have to use your arms, legs, back, and abs to move the flywheel, you tend to burn a large volume of calories in a short period of time.
Exercise bike—the tried and true exercise bike is still a workout staple that should not be ignored. You can choose from any variety of bicycles, including recumbent bikes that allow you to sit back and often have armrests (great for longer cardio sessions and reading a good book). Also, investigate upright bikes and spin bikes. If you feel like really shelling out for cardio equipment, you can even invest in a smart bike like a NordicTrack®, Peloton®, or Echelon, which all allow you to connect to classes online and stream your workouts.
If you’d like to take a deeper dive into the category of best at-home cardio workout equipment, you can check out this website, which offers advice, brand name discussions, and comparisons as well as links to purchasing equipment and pricing.
Best Non-Machine At-Home Cardio Workouts
If you don’t happen to have the money budgeted for equipment or you simply don’t have the extra space, all is not lost. You still have plenty of options for at-home cardio workouts. You can try some of the following, or combine them into a circuit-training type of cardio workout.
Kettlebell Swings—you can use a gallon water jug if you don’t have a kettlebell. Stand with your feet about hip-width apart. With both hands, grasp the kettlebell in front of you. Squat down and let the kettlebell swing backward naturally between your legs. It will move like a pendulum, and when it starts to move forward again, rapidly straighten your legs while swinging the kettlebell upward and forward as you push your hips forward. Repeat ten times. (See a full-body kettlebell workout here.)
Alternatively, you can do one-arm kettlebell swings. Perform the movement as described above, just holding the kettlebell in one hand. Swing 10 times and then switch arms and repeat on the other side.
Burpees—begin by standing with your feet about hip-width apart. Bend at the knees and place your hands, palms down, on the ground in front of you. Kick out your feet behind you until you’re in a pushup position. Next, jump your legs forward and then jump into the air with your arms outstretched overhead. When you land, repeat the sequence. Perform for 30 seconds as fast as you can and then rest for 30 seconds.
If this is too challenging, you can modify the exercise by stepping your feet back rather than jumping back, and you can also use a stable bench or a chair, rather than the floor, to place your hands on until you gain the flexibility and strength needed bend all the way down to the floor.
Is this at-home cardio workout too easy? You can add a pushup to the bottom portion of the exercise from the pushup position before you jump your legs forward.
Jump Rope—if you have the space available to you (and don’t have someone living directly below you), jumping rope can burn tons of calories. Start with short bursts of 25 – 50 revolutions of the rope. Rest for two minutes and repeat. You can also try weighted jump ropes once you get stronger and more fit.
Jumping Jacks—do as many as you can within a 30-second period. Rest two minutes and repeat. If these are too tough on your knees, ankles, or low back, you can also use a rebounder (or mini-trampoline) to reduce the impact.
Step-Ups—you can do these with a set of stairs or step up onto a chair or bench. Make sure to stabilize the chair before stepping up onto it. Begin by placing your right foot up onto the chair. Using your leg and glute (i.e., butt) muscles, push through your foot to lift your body up off the ground. Straighten your right leg until you can bring your left leg up off the ground also and place it on the chair next to you. Once you have both feet on the chair, slowly step back onto the ground, starting with your right leg and controlling the bend at your knee. Repeat for a total of 30 seconds.
Body Squats—using only your body weight, begin by standing with your feet hip-width apart (or slightly wider) with your hands on your hips, your feet slightly turned out, and your hips slightly pushed back. Keeping your back straight and chest up, slowly push your hips back as you bend your knees and squat down until your thighs are at least parallel with the floor. Pause and return to the standing position. Repeat 20 times.
Throughout the exercise, don’t allow your knees to collapse inwards, which can seriously stress the knees, and ensure they track over your feet. Remember to also keep the back straight and the core nice and tight. (Keep that chest up.)
Jump Squat—jump up in the air. Upon landing, bend your knees to do a squat. Pause at the bottom and then shoot back up into a jump. Repeat for 20 seconds as fast as you can and then rest for two minutes.
Again, if this is too tough on the joints, you can also try the exercise on a rebounder.
Running in Place—begin by alternating lifting and bringing your knees up to navel level. Continue picking up speed until you are running in place. Continue for 30 seconds.
If you really want to ramp things up, try doing a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) cardio workout. In a nutshell, you’ll do 30 seconds of your chosen exercise with all-out effort followed by 30 seconds to one minute of rest. Continue for a total of 15 – 20 minutes.
Even when it’s gloomy, cold, icy, windy, or you just aren’t feeling like getting outdoors, you can easily get in a great at-home cardio workouts—with or without equipment. So, go ahead and get your sweat on!