7 Cardio Workouts at Home When it’s too cold to go to the gym

When the winter weather sets in, going for a run or bike ride outside can not only be unpleasant, but it can also be unsafe. Between darkness in the morning and night and slippery roads filled with patches of black ice or snow, exercising outside in the winter can sometimes be dangerous to navigate a minefield. However, as much as we might like to, we shouldn’t use freezing temperatures, slippery feet, and lack of safe lighting as excuses to break out of our fitness routines; Instead, there are ways you can adjust your workouts on days when the weather is particularly bad or your gym is closed for the winter holidays. The best one? Try a cardio workout at home.


Cardio at home won’t necessarily provide you with all the potential training benefits of running a 5 or 6 mile run or doing a solid HIIT workout on the elliptical machine at the gym, but some exercise is always better than none. Better yet, there are many home cardio exercises you can do with little or no exercise equipment. If you don’t have a treadmill or indoor cycle at home to use when the temperatures drop but you still want to move your body and work up a good sweat, keep reading for the best home cardio exercises.


What is a cardio workout at home?

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Cardio exercise, also referred to as aerobic exercise, is any type of physical activity that increases the heart rate and strengthens the cardiovascular system. Although, what exactly is considered a “cardio workout”? according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Moderate intensity cardio raises your heart rate to 50-70% of your maximum heart rate while vigorous exercise raises your heart rate to 70-85% of your maximum heart rate.

The designations of “moderate intensity” and “vigorous intensity” aerobic exercise are important because there are different guidelines for how much intensity of each exercise you need to reduce your risk of lifestyle diseases. The CDC recommends that adults do either 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous cardio a week.

For home cardio to be effective, you need to increase your heart rate to at least 50% of your maximum heart rate during the workout. Wearing a heart rate monitor or fitness watch that uses wrist-based heart rate monitoring can be a useful way to make sure you’re pushing your body hard enough.

Typically, it’s best to aim for 20 to 45 minutes per home workout, depending on your exercise intensity and your fitness goals. The higher the intensity, the more efficient the exercise. For example, studies show that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can provide the same cardiovascular and metabolic benefits of moderate-intensity, steady-state aerobic exercise in 40% less time. So if you’re short on time and just want to squeeze in a quick workout, increase the intensity and take a Tabata or HIIT workout.

7 body weight cardio exercises at home

Here are some cardio exercises at home that don’t require any exercise equipment. All you need is a water bottle, a timer, and some room to move. If you have a heart rate monitor, strap it on so you can monitor your level of exertion.

20-minute jogging exercise


This is a great no-equipment cardio exercise that requires only a means of moving, preferably a 6-foot by 6- or 7-foot long.

You’ll alternate between two basic, yet challenging, bodyweight exercises: sprints in place with high knees and mountain climbers with your hands on the floor in a push-up position.

Running “up-down” is because you’re essentially running in a vertical position and then running horizontally when you’re on the ground in a mountain climber position.

Perform each move for 60 seconds and then alternate, cycling continuously between exercises without taking a break between rounds. If you’re a beginner, it’s okay to take 60-second breaks between bouts of each move. As you build your endurance, try to eliminate rest and keep moving for the entire 20 minutes.

You’ll perform a full 10 rounds for a full 20-minute workout.

16 minutes of Tabata-style exercise

Athletic man putting his knees high in the gym.

Tabata is a specific style of HIIT that involves performing eight rounds of 20 seconds of all-out exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest, lasting four minutes.

You can perform Tabata with any type of exercise, and even a single four-minute Tabata session can be an effective workout. However, if you are in great shape and are used to longer cardio workouts, this is a four-part Tabata routine that will involve doing four different exercises for one full set and then moving on to the next.

For each set, complete eight rounds of 20 seconds of exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest.

  • Step 1: Burpees.
  • Step 2: Plank from top to bottom. Alternate between a forearm plank position and then press up into a push-up position, one arm at a time.
  • Step 3: Alternating jumping lunges.
  • Step 4: High Knees Jogging in place.

This exercise should raise your heart rate to near-maximal levels and will absolutely challenge your mental fortitude.

10-Minute OTM tuck-and-jump cardio workout

A man jumps up, tucking his legs under him

Like a top-down cardio workout, this is a simple and effective bodyweight workout that includes another cycle of metabolic exercises: jumping jacks and squats.

To perform the tuck jump, stand upright. Using your core and glutes, push your legs together, side by side so that you’re jumping into the air in a bent position, with your knees up to your chest. Then you should land softly, using your muscles to smooth your landing.

To perform a squat jump, get into a basic bodyweight squat position. Keep your hips back and bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Then do a vertical jump, reaching as high as you can towards the ceiling before lowering back into a squatting position.

In this workout, you’ll cycle between these two plyometric exercises. However, since they both require a lot of muscle and cardiovascular system, instead of going for the full 60 seconds and then moving on to the next exercise without a break, you’ll do 15-20 repetitions of each exercise (depending on your fitness level) starting at the beginning of every minute and then resting Until the next minute begins.

For example, if you’re a beginner, do 15 tuck jumps to get started. Let’s say this takes 30 seconds. You will then rest for the last 30 seconds of the minute. At the one-minute mark, you’ll begin 15 squat jumps. If it takes you 35 seconds to get over the repetition, you will then rest for the last 25 seconds of that minute and start jumping again. Advanced athletes should aim for 20 or more repetitions of each exercise, aiming to move for 45 seconds out of every minute and then rest for 15 seconds. Continue cycling through the exercises for 10 minutes.

20 min jump rope cardio workout

A man jumping rope

Even if you don’t have a skipping rope, you can simulate a skipping rope by performing the movement with an invisible rope. Jumping rope is a great cardio workout and a quick way to get your heart pumping.

Warm up by jogging in place for two minutes. Then jump rope fast for 90 seconds, then 30 seconds of slow, gentle jumping. Complete eight sets. Beginners can rest for 30 seconds instead if they wish, but intermediate and advanced athletes should continue jumping at a slower tempo for those final 30 seconds. After eight rounds, start out calmly by walking in place for two minutes.

Whether you’re jumping real rope or simulating the movement, try to land light on your feet and take fast, low jumps instead of slow high jumps. You should aim for at least 100 jumps per minute.

30-minute bodyweight cardio workout

A man doing a mountain climber on a mat.

Many bodyweight exercises are great not only in terms of their cardio components, but also in how they can strengthen your muscles. This is a full body workout that works most of the major muscles in your body while burning calories and getting your heart rate up.

You’ll complete three rounds of the following 10 bodyweight cardio exercises, aiming to get little or no rest between each exercise to keep your heart rate elevated during the entire workout:

  • 60 seconds of squat jump
  • 60 seconds of high knees jogging in place
  • 60 seconds of alternating jumping lunges
  • 60 seconds of burpees
  • 60 seconds of jumping jacks
  • 60 seconds of mountain climbers
  • 60 seconds of crab kicks (crab walking stance, alternating leg kicking)
  • 60 seconds of tuck jumps
  • 60 seconds of Cross Mountain Climbers (right knee toward left shoulder, left knee toward right shoulder)
  • 60 seconds of jumping jacks (arms come straight across your chest parallel to the floor and clap in the middle)

30 minutes of stair training

A man running stairs
Matthew Ligon/Unsplash

Running or brisk walking up the stairs can be a great way to get your heart rate up, strengthen your legs, and burn calories. If you have stairs in your home or you live in an apartment building with stairs, you can easily get a great cardio workout at home.

Warm up by simply walking up and down the stairs for three minutes, gradually increasing the pace. Then, set a timer for 25 minutes and run up and down the stairs as many times as you can. Depending on your fitness level, coordination, and balance, you may opt for brisk walking instead. Be careful with your feet and focus on pushing your knees up as you climb the stairs and landing gently on your feet, as if you were stepping on hot coals, on your way down.

40 minutes of cardio without equipment

A man jumps in his bedroom.

This 40-minute cardio workout involves doing a simple circuit of six bodyweight exercises. If you’re a beginner or don’t have the full 40 minutes, you can shorten your workout by doing fewer rounds.

Start by warming up with two minutes of jogging in place or jogging around your house.

Then complete six rounds of the following bodyweight cardio exercises:

  • 60 seconds of high knees jogging in place
  • 60 seconds of jumping jacks
  • 60 seconds of brisk feet (sitting in an athletic stance, legs shoulder-width apart, alternating weight between one foot and the other as quickly as you can)
  • 60 seconds of mountain climbers
  • 60 seconds of burpees
  • 60 seconds of side-to-side jumps over a line

Remember, even when your gym is closed due to a winter vacation or a bad snowstorm keeps you from pounding the pavement on your favorite running route, you can get a great cardio workout at home with just your body weight and a huge dose of energy!

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