Cardio exercises have become synonymous with fitness. You understand the role that cardio exercises play in your workout routine, but how do you keep things interesting? Let’s explore what can make your cardio choices dynamic and fun. Perhaps there’s something you have tried that would fit in nicely with your workout.

Comparison Table

Name

Pho​tos

Modification

Skaters

Skaters

As you alternate hopping back and forth you improve your balance and agility. You’ll strengthen your ankles, calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes.

Burpee 180 Jump

Burpee 180 Jump

Burpees 180 Jump are a full body exercise you’ll learn to love. This movement works your shoulders, chest, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and abdominals. 

Jumping Rope

Jumping Rope

Jumping rope works the muscles in your legs, predominantly your calves, along with your quadriceps and hamstrings.

Mini-Band Frog Jumps

Mini-Band Frog Jumps

This is one of the best cardio exercises because it improves the mobility of your hips, ankles, and knees. Using the mini-band during frog jumps will keep your hips activated.

Overhead Walking Lunges

Overhead Walking Lunges

As a full body movement, overhead walking lunges involve nearly all the muscles of your upper and lower body.

Beast Shoulder Taps

Beast Shoulder Taps

Holding this position the whole time will strengthen your feet and toes. As you shift your weight during the movements, it will also work on strengthening your quads and shoulders.

Mountain Climbers Pushup

Mountain Climbers Pushup

Mountain Climbers are a full body exercise that get your heart rate up fast and help core stability.

Dumbbell Seesaw Press

Dumbbell Seesaw Press

The Dumbbell Seesaw Press is one of the best cardio exercises because it conditions the body while building your core and upper-body strength. 

Product FAQ

1. What Is Cardio?

Some of the best cardio exercises come in traditional forms such as running, sprinting, swimming, and rowing. We encourage these exercise if you enjoy them, but there are much more cardio exercises to choose from. The name of the game is to keep things fresh and engrossing with your cardio exercises. You want to anticipate what you can do just in case the traditional movements get redundant and lead you to plateau.

The easiest way to burn calories is by doing cardio exercises. Intensity is important, so remember to raise your intensity to burn more calories. With most cardio exercises you can do as many reps as you like to feel that you’re getting a big workout. You can repeat the same rep scheme over and over for as long as you can, or you can add intervals that alternate the intensity or amount of reps.

 

2. What Do Cardio Exercises Do?

The best cardio exercises aim to raise your heart rate and burn more fat. This kind of training causes the heart, lungs, and circulatory system to work more to support the muscles engaged in the particular exercise. From a physiological standpoint, what it comes down to is that cardio training is any activity that places stress on the cardiorespiratory system. You want to do this in a way in which you're strengthening specific muscle groups.

Cardio exercises can make your workout experience more dynamic. When you engage in full body cardio exercises, you get the gains of building muscles, and you reap the benefits of your body working as a holistic unit. These exercises are functional, multi-faceted movements that increase stamina and endurance as you improve your muscle quality.

 

3. What Cardio Should You Be Doing?

Not every cardio exercise will be right for you. if you’ve noticed that you don’t like running, swimming, or cycling, this is okay. There are many more cardio exercises to choose from. These exercises aren't the only way to stay in shape through cardio. There are ways to make your weight training program more of a cardio workout.

How We Reviewed

 We’ve reviewed the best cardio exercises with criteria that include the movement's ability to burn calories and build stronger muscles at the same time. We have some recognizable choices with an added twist and some dynamic choices for cardio exercises on the list. Along with learning what body parts they work out, consider the tips shared the about pros and cons to help you decide which exercises you'd like to add to your workout routine.

What We Recommend

  • Skaters
  • Burpee 180 Jump
  • Jumping Rope
  • Mini-Band Frog Jumps
  • Bench Runners
  • Indoor Cycling
  • Overhead Walking Lunges
  • Beast Shoulder Taps
  • Mountain Climbers Pushup
  • Dumbbell Seesaw Press

Skaters

man using a skate board

What It Works Out

As you alternate hopping back and forth you improve your balance and agility. You’ll strengthen your ankles, calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. You’ll also engage your abdominal and back muscles.

                                 Pros

  • Excellent to improve agility
  • Allows equal workload for both sides

 Cons

  • May be a challenge for weak ankles
  • Poor form if not paying attention

How To

As you’re standing, lean forward with a flat back. Put your weight on your left foot and bend your left knee. With your right leg lifted, have it tap the floor behind you, just past the back of your left foot. Then swing the right foot back as you jump to a standing bent-leg position on your right side as you push off with your left leg. Stabilizing your right foot, tap your left foot on the floor behind you just past the back of your right foot.

Burpee 180 Jump

Burpee 180 Jump

What It Works Out

Burpees 180 Jump are a full body exercise you’ll learn to love. This movement works your shoulders, chest, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and abdominals. Adding the change of direction at the top of the movement helps improve coordination and spatial awareness.

                                 Pros

  • Full body movement that also works your abdomen
  • Adds cardiovascular movement to burn more calories

 Cons

  • This exercise may feel too dynamic
  • Poor form may strain the lower back

How To

Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, keeping your weight on your heels, push your hips back while bending your knees to lower yourself into a squat. Then place your hands on the floor directly in front of your feet, jumping your feet back to bring yourself into a push-up position. As you come up from your push-up, jump your feet back, so they land just outside of your hands. Spring your body up to jump explosively while rotating 180 degrees at the top.

Jumping Rope

man doing jumping rope

What It Works Out

Jumping rope works the muscles in your legs, predominantly your calves, along with your quadriceps and hamstrings. By turning the rope, your forearms, biceps, triceps, and shoulders will reap the benefits of a jump rope workout. In keeping balance, you engage the muscles in your chest, core, back, and glutes. Jumping rope also builds quickness and agility.

                                 Pros

  • Easy workout to do on the go
  • Can burn around 12 calories per minute

 Cons

  • May not have the right length jump rope
  • Can be hard to find a good rhythm

How To

Choose your jump rope based on your height by standing on the middle of the rope; the handles should extend to your armpits. Hold the rope with your hands at the height of your hip and, keeping your upper arms close to your sides with your elbows slightly bent. Keep your chest out and your shoulders back and down. Make relatively small jumps while landing on the balls of your feet, springing back up while rotating your wrist to move the rope.

Mini-Band Frog Jumps

Mini-Band Frog Jumps

What It Works Out

This is one of the best cardio exercises because it improves the mobility of your hips, ankles, and knees. Using the mini-band during frog jumps will keep your hips activated.

                                 Pros

  • Great movement to strengthen ankles
  • Activates your hip flexors

 Cons

  • May not have a mini-band availability
  • Can stress lower back if the form is poor

How To

Standing upright, place a mini resistance band just below your knees with your feet turned out slightly wider than hip-width apart. Keep your chest out and chin up as you squat down placing your hands on the ground between your legs. Spring upward from your bent legs and throw your arms up as your body fully extends at the top of the jump. Then bring your arms down as you land into a frog squat position.

Bench Runners

Bench Runners

What It Works Out

Bench Runners strengthen your glutes, quads, calves, and ankles. This exercise will also help you improve your agility.

                                 Pros

  • Great movement to find a rhythm and focus on breathing
  • Will help you focus on balance and agility

 Cons

  • Must be careful not to fall over a box or bench
  • Must have a box, bench, or step available

How To

Standing next to a bench or a box, you firmly place your right foot on top of the bench and your left foot on the floor. After tapping the box with your right foot, you quickly switch feet and tap the box with your left foot. Keep alternating your feet for as many reps as you'd like.

Overhead Walking Lunges

Overhead Walking Lunges

What It Works Out

As a full body movement, overhead walking lunges involve nearly all the muscles of your upper and lower body. Specifically for your upper body, this exercise builds stability in your shoulder girdle and increases core strength.

                                 Pros

  • Creates great tension for the upper body
  • Specific focus on strengthening the glutes

 Cons

  • Moving fast may cause poor form
  • May not have a resistance band available

How To

Hold a resistance band with both arms staring and hands directly overhead. To support your back, keep your shoulders externally rotated and step forward with your left foot forward. Bend both knees 90 degrees into the lunging position. As you stand up, press through your left heel, then step forward with your right foot.

Beast Shoulder Taps

Beast Shoulder Taps

What It Works Out

Holding this position the whole time will strengthen your feet and toes. As you shift your weight during the movements, it will also work on strengthening your quads and shoulders. Core stability is also engaged throughout this movement.

                                 Pros

  • Keeps your core and shoulders fully engaged
  • Tests your ability to distribute your weight evenly

 Cons

  • May be to much stress balancing on toes
  • It's a hard position to maintain

How To

Starting from the table-top position, balance using your toes to hold your knees hover slightly off the floor. As you’re in this position, keep the weight even between your upper body and your lower body. While facing down, lift one hand off the floor to tap your opposite shoulder. Then return your hand to the ground and proceed with your other hand.

Mountain Climbers Pushup

Mountain Climbers Pushup

What It Works Out

Mountain Climbers are a full body exercise that get your heart rate up fast and help core stability. They work many muscle groups including your quads, hamstrings, hip abductors, abdominals, obliques, chest, deltoids, triceps, and biceps. With the added pushups you’ll give extra attention to your chest, deltoids, and triceps.

                                 Pros

  • Plank position engages your entire core
  • Leg movement to core allows for a strong contraction

 Cons

  • May not master the full range of motion
  • May prefer to do pushups separately

How To

Put yourself in a high plank position of shoulders over wrists. Keep your hips tucked up toward belly button with your ribs drawn toward your hips. One at a time, drive your knees toward your chest while maintaining your upper body in position. Once you’ve alternated eight times, do two pushups, keeping your elbows back and your shoulders forward.

Dumbbell Seesaw Press

Dumbbell Seesaw Press

What It Works Out

The Dumbbell Seesaw Press is one of the best cardio exercises because it conditions the body while building your core and upper-body strength. This movement also works your shoulders as the primary muscles and your biceps as a secondary muscle.

                                 Pros

  • Creates a great burn for your shoulder muscles
  • A good movement to incorporate bicep strength

 Cons

  • Focuses heavily on shoulder strength
  • May not treat both sides evenly

How To

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and weights at your shoulders. Extend one dumbbell into an overhead position while holding the opposite dumbbell at the shoulder. Alternate the dumbbell extension for each side, allowing them to move at the same time. Maintain the positioning of having one arm up while the other is down.

Indoor Cycling

indoor cycling

What It Works Out

Indoor cycling can be one of the most intense cardio exercises. It helps you improve your breathing technique while exercising. You will work the main muscles of your lower body, including hip flexors, glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves, and feet.

                                 Pros

  • Every muscle in your lower body gets powered up
  • Can burn a lot of calories cycling

 Cons

  • May dislike staying stationary on the bike
  • May prefer cycling outdoors

How To

Once you’ve positioned yourself on the bike, you push down with your quads. If the bike has pedal clips, then use them to take advantage of the full stroke. You can focus on the upwards motion and add more resistance during a quick sprint session. You can also increase the intensity by doing interval training.


woman working out at the gym

 

The Verdict

There's no shortage of calories to be burned with these multi-purpose cardio exercises. To start out, choose one of the simpler movements that are very repetitive like the Skaters or Jump Rope. If you'd like to get more dynamic and challenge multiple parts of your body, then do Burpee 180 Jumps or Mountain Climber Pushups. With these in your cardio exercise wheelhouse, you will be better equipped to stay conditioned for life!