Whether you're a die-hard strength trainer, or you're just beginning your fitness journey, there are plenty of reasons you might be on the hunt for a great cardio workout. And while there are plenty of cardio exercises that are good for your body and mind and won't necessarily require a shower post-workout, sometimes you just want a lively workout that will leave you feeling the burn.
To help you keep active without boredom, we asked personal trainer Nerissa Zhang, CEO of The Bright App, and Nicci Robinson, certified trainer for the Fit Body App, what their favorite types of cardio workouts are. Try these cardio workouts to add some variety to your exercise routine.
Kickboxing challenges your whole body, especially your core. “Because kickboxing is truly a full-body workout, it occupies your complete attention, allowing you to immerse yourself in the moment fully,” says Zhang.
Approximate calorie burn per hour for a 145-pound person: 657
Yoga is primarily known for its calming, gentle stretching effect. Still, particular styles, such as Ashtanga and Vinyasa, or Power Yoga, combine strength and faster flows. “With this style of yoga, you’ll constantly be moving throughout your practice very effectively, getting your heart rate up and your blood flowing,” says Zhang.
Approximate calorie burn per hour for a 145-pound person: 230
Jumping rope is excellent for cardio, coordination, and bone health. You can easily incorporate jumping rope into a warm-up or cool-down or use it as the main focus of a cardio workout. Jump ropes are affordable, portable, and easy to use.
“One reason I love having a jump rope around is that you can pick it up for a quick burst of high-intensity exercise any time throughout the day. When I have a short break between meetings or need to move after too long at my computer, I don’t have to commit to a whole workout routine; I can just grab my rope and jump for a few minutes,” says Zhang.
Approximate calorie burn per hour for a 145-pound person: 789
“Cycling is great for cardiovascular health, puts less strain on your knees and feet than running, and can have the added benefit of serving as an excellent and environmentally-friendly mode of transportation,” says Zhang.
Using your bike for transportation helps you fit cardio workouts into your daily routine and saves gas.
Approximate calorie burn per hour for a 145-pound person cycling at 12 miles per hour: 526
Newer to the scene, a bungee workout has you leaping and flying through the air, all while getting a fantastic workout.
Bungee workouts are suitable for total beginners interested in an aerial-style workout. A harness is attached to the ceiling with flexible cables, allowing for a workout with many dance-like movements and bouncing around that gets your heart rate up while still being low-impact.
“Because bungee workouts take a lot of the impact out of your movements, even people suffering from some types of arthritis, healing injuries, or other types of pain can often find a safe way to do a bungee workout,” says Zhang.
Approximate calorie burn per hour for a 145-pound person: 500
“The stair climber is a great cardio workout with minimum impact on the joints. It works every muscle in the legs and it also engages my core muscles,” says Robinson. She prefers to use the stair climber in the morning to help wake her up and prepare for the day.
If you don’t have access to a stair climber machine, you can get the same or better workout using any flight of stairs, indoors or outdoors.
Approximate calorie burn per hour for a 145-pound person: 526
Treadmill Walk on Incline
Walking on a treadmill with a steep incline is a low-impact cardio workout with minimum impact on the joints. “I have found that walking on an incline burns more calories than jogging or running at a neutral stance,” says Robinson.
Like the stair climber, treadmills set at an incline work every muscle in the legs and glutes. Robinson also uses this workout to get her legs ready for heavy lifting.
Approximate calorie burn per hour for a 145-pound person: 591
Tabata is a high-intensity training style where you push yourself as hard as possible for short bursts of work, followed by a short break before starting again. You can incorporate any sort of intense movement that gets your heart rate up during your work periods.
“Using Tabata ensures I am using max effort while doing specific exercises. If I am not on a Tabata timer, I tend to rest a lot longer than I should. But when that timer goes off, no matter how winded I may be, I will get right back to my cardio sessions,” says Robinson.
Robinson recommends exercises like burpees: “I love incorporating burpee variations while doing HIIT cardio. This gets my heart rate up quickly, and there is no way to cheat this exercise,” she says. Other excellent exercises for Tabata include jump squats, high knees, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, and side skaters.
Tabata training should be done for short periods, never for an hour. Approximate calorie burn per 20 minutes for a 145-pound person: 300
Battle ropes are a killer tool for functional, full-body training. “Battle ropes is one of the ultimate tests on your cardio levels,” says Robinson. She likes to combine battle ropes with Tabata-style training methods for maximum impact.
“It is excellent for spiking your heart rate to ensure ultimate fat burn,” says Robinson. Battle ropes primarily target your shoulders and core, but many moves incorporate every muscle in your body. You can even use them with a partner.
Approximate calorie burn per 20 minutes for a 145-pound person: 225
Robinson especially loves kettlebells because of their versatility. “Incorporating them into my HIIT routines helps me focus on stabilizing my core and shows which areas of my body are dominant or weak,” she says.
Kettlebells build strength and muscle mass while getting your heart rate up, spiking your metabolism in the process. “Overall, it is a challenging tool that I use for a great full-body workout,” says Robinson.
Approximate calorie burn per 20 minutes for a 145-pound person: 400