53 Bodyweight Exercises for Cardio
But when I do make the decision to not go, I have this overwhelming feeling of being lazy, and sometimes I even get disappointed with myself.
Fortunately, there is a solution!
If you’re like me, and just really don’t feel like driving to the gym, then bodyweight exercises might a great option.
Benefits of Bodyweight Workouts
- Can be performed at home.
- Does not require expensive gym equipment or membership.
- Are a great source of cardio.
- Can reduce fat, while building lean muscle.
- Takes a minimal amount of time (15-30 min) to complete.
- Can build a foundation for weightlifting.
- Can be supplemented into any routine.
Disadvantages of Bodyweight Workouts
- Aren’t an effective method for long-term muscle building.
- Not a suitable approach for power athletes.
- A plateau is reached much faster than weightlifting.
Adding a bodyweight circuit into your regime can really spice things up, and bring a stagnant routine back to life.
I don’t recommend using these exercises as your only cardio option, but using them along with other high-intensity cardio techniques, can help you achieve some incredible results.
Below, are 100 of my favorite bodyweight exercises that you can perform practically anywhere. I have personally used these workouts, and I understand the level of difficulty involved with each one.
To create a quick routine, just simply mix and match exercises together. Just make sure you bookmark this, so you can reference it at any time!
Top 53 Bodyweight Exercises for Cardio
Each exercise will provide a brief description, along with a difficulty level between 1 and 10, with 10 being the most difficult.
1. Traditional Squats
The most commonly used bodyweight workout, and for good reason.
For this squat variation, start with your feet about shoulder width, and simply squat down to 90 degrees, and return to the starting position.
Make sure your knees stay back behind your toes. You can achieve this by pushing your hips back as you squat.
2. Deep Squats
Make sure you maintain the same squat form, except you will exceed 90 degrees.
Deep squats hit quads and hips much more than the traditional version. You will have a tendency to bend your back over with deep squats, so just try to the keep the back as straight as possible.
3. Sumo Squats
For the sumo squat, you will start with a wide-stance.
You will then squat down to 90 degrees and back up. Sumo squats are excellent for training the glutes.
4. Explosive Squats
Explosive squats are a personal favorite of mine because of the athleticism aspect involved.
This exercise is much more challenging than the traditional squat, and will increase the strength of fast twitch muscle fibers.
You will become more explosive and athletic with this exercise, even if it wasn’t your goal!
5. Single-Leg Pistol Squats
Alright, now things are getting real.
Single-leg pistol squats are one of the most challenging bodyweight exercises you can use. If you think you’re a bodyweight bad*** then it’s about time you attempt this workout.
The strength aspect is challenging, but maintaining proper form and balance is the most difficult part of the exercise.
In the video below from Turbulence Training, you will see exactly how to perform this advanced exercise:
6. Single-Leg Explosive Squat
I’m going to be honest, I simply am not capable of doing this exercise.
The single-leg squat is difficult enough, but if you add a plyometric component to it, it may be the most difficult bodyweight exercise there is. If you can do this exercise please let me know!
7. Traditional Lunges
Lunges are great for training the glutes, hamstrings, and quads.
Similiar to the squat, make sure your lead knee does not sway past your toes. A shorter lunge will train the quads more, while a further lunge will hit the glutes more directly.
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8. Split Jumps
Start out in the lunge position, explode upward and reverse your stance.
Continue the split jumps back and forth for about 10-15 reps. This exercise will hit the fast twitch fibers, as well as build strength in the larger muscle groups.
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9. Frog Jumps
Start with your leg past shoulder width, and in a squat position.
From a standstill, you will explode horizontally as far as possible. Land softly, and explode forward again.
Frog jumps are very challenging, but can build great leg strength and explosiveness.
10. Vertical Jumps
This exercise is exactly what the title implies, a vertical jump.
Squat to almost 90 degrees and explode straight up off the ground. Land softly, and immediately explode upward again.
You perform vertical jumps in front of a basketball hoop or next to wall so that you’re trying to touch a certain point each time. Keep pushing yourself to get higher, and higher with each explosion.
This excellent plyometric exercise can be performed with any elevated surface.
Depending on your athleticism and fitness level, you will need to choose a surface that is challenging, but not impossible.
Simply start in front in the object, squat to 90 degrees, jump onto the top of the platform, and back down.
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For depth jumps, you will start on top of a platform.
From the top, you will step off (not jump off) the platform, and as soon as you hit the ground you will explode straight up.
It’s important that you don’t land and try to gain power. Step off, land, and explode.
Start on the side of a barrier or box.
Then explode sideways over the box, and immediately explode back. Side-to-side box jumps will increase the strength of fast twitch muscle fibers, and can be a great high-intensity cardio option.
Zig zags will increase foot speed and explosiveness.
Start on one side of any line, explode sideways to the other side of the line and back. Go back and forth as fast as you can.
If you really want to target the quads, then you should consider mountain climbers.
This exercise will set your quads on fire, and leave you gasping for breath. Mountain climbers are a great muscle builder, but are also an effective cardio technique.
Utilizing side lunges is a great way to vary up your routine, and challenge your body.
Side lunges are an awkward exercise because it’s difficult to maintain proper balance and form. You need to have a considerate amount of strength to perofrm this exercise correctly. But when when you can, it can be highly-beneficial.
Avoid letting the knee drift past the plant foot. To avoid this, simply push your hips back and you perform the negative portion of the exercise.
The side lunge targets the quads, glutes, and hips.
The reverse lunge can add variation to your routine, and even possibly increase the difficulty.
When I use reverse lunges, I like to reach as far back as possible. This ensures that my muscles are being properly worked and stretched.
Reverse lunges are designed to target the quadriceps and hip flexors.
This exercise takes a lot of courage to perform in the gym because you might look like a fool.
Why, might you ask?
Because even the most seasoned athlete has a difficult time getting any airtime from a single-leg jump. For the exercise, you will simply jump straight up with one leg from a completely stationary position.
I can tell you now, you aren’t going to get very high and this is OKAY!
High knees are a great muscle building workout, but can also be a great cardio exercise.
I would typically perform this exercise on a track, but you can do it in a stationary position.
Try to get your knees as high as possible without being an out of control. Speed is okay, but don’t be erratic.
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You will start in a deep squat position, and then step forward while still in this position. Keep stepping forward until you finish the set.
I can tell you now, your quads and glutes are going to burning. But isn’t that what makes these exercises fun??
Wall sits are not only a great strength builder, but are also an excellent way to improve anaerobic and muscular endurance.
The exercise itself is self-explanatory. Find any way, press your back up against it, then lower your body into the squat position. Typically, you should sit at 90 degrees. However, if you’re looking to increase the difficulty level, then you can proceed lower into more of a deep squat position.
Wall sits will primarily target the quads and glutes. You can expect your quads to feel like a torch has been lit on them, but this is what makes it fun.
If you’re just starting out, try to hold this position for about 45-60 seconds. Continue to increase the time as you gain strength and muscular endurance.
The electric chair exercise is the evil brother of wall sits.
Electrics chairs are identical to wall sits, except you will not have a wall as your support mechanism. You hold the squat position without any support.
There is going to be a tendency to bend your back over as the exercise difficult increases. Be sure to always maintain proper form, and give yourself a break once this is no longer possible.
Your fatigue level will increase considerably faster than walls sits.
If you have been involved in sports, then you probably don’t know much about this exercise.
Let me tell you… It’s one of the hardest bodyweight exercises you can use.
You will need about 45-60 yards of open space. Start out in the push-up position and with your butt up in the air.
Like the exercise name implies, you will literally start moving forward by crawling with your arms and legs. Bear crawls will primarily target the upper body muscles including the shoulder, triceps, and core. The faster you move, the harder it is.
This exercise is often used as a dynamic warm-up, but can be used to increase explosiveness.
You will simply explode upward with one leg, land, and explode up with the other leg. Try to explode upwards as high as you can, but make sure you’re landing softly.
Hips raises are great exercise for targeting the hamstrings and glutes.
Start with your back flat on the floor, feet flat on the ground, and hands flat on the ground.
You will then drive your hips into the air while keeping your back flat on the ground, and repeat.
For more bodyweight training variety, you can try stability ball squats.
If you have access, you will simply a stability ball and a nice wall. Press your back up against the ball, squat to 90-degrees and return to the start position.
I prefer to go past 90-degrees to increase the difficulty, but this is preference.
Once again, if you have access to a bosu ball then I highly recommend this exercise.
Bosu ball squats are very challenging and require great core strength, and balance.
Place both your feet on the ball, squat to 90-degrees, and return to the starting position. It is essential to perform this exercise slow and steady because maintaining your balance isn’t easy.
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Upper Body Exercises
Burpees are not a great strength exercise, but also an excellent anaerobic cardio exercise.
The image shows you the exact progression of this great exercise. Focus on good form, but also try to perform each rep as fast as possible.
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This exercise has stood the test of time, and for a good reason.
Push-ups can be used as a strength training and cardio method, and will train the pecs, delts, and core.
The wide-grip will increase the difficulty, and target the pecs even more.
Place your feet up on a bench or an elevated surface.
The elevated push-up will target the delts much more, and definitely increases the difficulty because of the odd angle.
Plyometrics push-ups require a significant amount of upper body power and explosiveness.
Start in the regular push-up position. The only difference is that you forcefully explode upward launching your upper body into the air.
The higher you can get, the stronger you have become.
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Clap push-ups take the plyo version to a whole new level.
The form is identical to plyometric version, except you will clap your hands before returning back to the ground.
Make sure you have built up the necessary strength before attempting this exercise…. Or you may find yourself face planting.
If you have mastered clap push-ups, then you might be capable of single-arm push-ups.
This bodyweight exercise is incredibly difficult, and is only used by the real training freaks.
If you can properly perform one of these push-ups, then you really are the man and I congratulate you!
Crossfit has popularized this exercise.
When performed correctly, handstand push-ups are incredibly good workout for the deltoids and triceps.
Obviously, the most difficult aspect of the exercise is maintaining your balance. I recommend increasing your strength with the other push-up variations before you transition onto this difficult exercise.
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The hardest part about this exercise is not looking like a freak when you do it.
Divebombers push-ups will really get your shoulder burning, and requires a significant amount of core strength and stability. Watch the video below to see exactly how to perform this workout:
If you have access to medicine balls, then this a great addition to your bodyweight exercise routine.
You can also use a basketball to perform this exercise as well. Place both your hand on the ball, and perform a push-up. It’s really that simple.
Because of the close grip, you will primarily target the triceps.
To increase the difficulty level, you can try to use two balls with an hand on each. This variation is incredibly difficult, so good luck!
Pull-ups can be performed almost anywhere.
This exercise has stood the test of time because of it’s incredible effectiveness. For the traditional pull-up, your hands will be positioned a little further than shoulder width, and you will have a palms facing down grip.
The traditional pull-up will primarily target the lats.
As opposed to the traditional pull-up, your palms will be facing you.
Because of the reverse grip, this exercise will mainly target both the biceps and lats.
Wide-grip pull-ups significantly increase the difficulty level.
Grip the bar with your hands facing down, and your hands should be about a foot from your shoulder.
This exercise is potentially dangerous on the rotator cuff, so just be careful and make sure you have built up enough strength before attempting it.
The wide-grip pull-up will heavily target the lats.
Reverse rows are an excellent option for people who find pull-ups to be too difficult.
You will need either a barbell or just something that you can pull your body up from.
If you’re using a barbell, start below it with your hands a little further than shoulder width. Your legs should be straight with your heels on the ground. Proceed by pulling your upper body up to the bar, and back down in a slow and controlled motion.
If this is too difficult, you bend your knees and place your feet on the ground.
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I’m going to be honest, I absolutely love planks.
I can attribute my strong core to this incredible exercise, and I highly recommend you start using it.
The exercise itself is very simple. As you can see in the image, you will simply hold support your bodyweight with your elbows and feet. Try to keep your back flat, and keep your booty low.
To increase the difficulty level, push your body back further so that your elbows are further out in front. This will directly target the lower abs, which are typically a problem area for most people.
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Adding side planks along with traditional planks is a lethal combination.
These two exercises in combination are guaranteed to take your core training to a new level.
Side planks are designed to target the transverse abdominis muscles (sides of abs). This exercise will help you combat the dreaded “love handle” syndrome.
Planks walks are just a more difficult version of planks.
You will start in the plank position, and transition to a push-up position. You continually repeat this motion, up and down until you complete the recommended amount of repetitions.
In writing, this may seem like a very simple exercise, but it is incredibly difficult.
Planks walks will heavily target the core, but will also hit the pecs and deltoids.
Upper body step-ups are a great exercise for building stability and strength in the core.
You will need a small platform, and you will start in the push-up position.
- Start on one side of the platform.
- Press up onto the platform with one arm then the other.
- Then with the lead arm, continue onto the other side.
This motion should be continuous, and the faster you can perform the step-ups, the harder it will be.
Just make sure you never compromise your form, and always make sure your core is held very tightly during the entire exercise.
Russian twists are a great exercise for targeting the transverse abdominis muscles (side of abs).
There are a few ways to perform this exercise. You can start with your feet on the ground, lean your body back, and touch the ground back and forth.
To increase the difficulty simply lift your feet off the ground, and lean your body back even further. Perform each repetition slow and steady, and feel your abs contracting.
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This exercise is one of the most effective ways to target the stubborn lower abs.
Lay with your back and hands flat on the ground. You will the lift your legs straight up, and back down half way.
The negative portion of this exercise is what many people do wrong. Lowering your legs too far not only release the contraction of your abs, but it is also dangerous for your lower back.
Once again, slow and steady is the best way to feel the burn.
Start in the same position as you would for leg lifts.
The only difference is that you will pull both your knees towards your head, and back to the starting position.
Reverse crunches will also target the lower portion of the abs, and enable you to get a really good squeeze with the abs.
If you hate “love handles”, then the hip drop might be a good option.
This exercise directly targets the incredibly stubborn love handle area.
Start in the side plank position, and you will then drop your hip directly to the ground. Once your hip touches the ground, raise back up to the starting position. Repeat this up and down motion until you finish the set.
The most important thing to remember is to squeeze your side when you return to the top.
At some point planks are likely to get easier.
For this reason, you may want to increase the difficulty level and attempt the extended plank. I will tell you now, this is absolute abs burner. It will primarily target the lower abs, but you will feel it throughout your entire core.
Start in the traditional plank position. But this is when it gets unique… you will then push your body back so that your arms are out in front of you.
If you can hold a regular plank for about 60 seconds, then you probably can only hold this position for about 30 seconds. It really is that hard.
Wall planks are another way to increase the difficulty of the traditional exercise.
The only difference is that your feet will be pressed up against the wall, thus suspending your body in the air.
Supermans are a great core exercises that targets the lowerback.
Start by laying on your stomach with your arms out in front. In one simultaneous motion, lift your arms and legs, hold for 1-2 seconds, and release back to starting position.
This is one of the only bodyweight exercises that you will need a partner for.
Wheelbarrows are very challenging and will help you strengthen your shoulders and triceps. You and your partner will literally simulate the motion of a wheelbarrows.
One person starts on the ground in the push-up position, and the standing person holds their legs up. You then move forward just like a wheelbarrow. The faster you go, the harder it is.
I hope these 53 different bodyweight exercises were helpful, and if you’re looking for a complete cardio routine I highly recommend you check out the link below.
Revamp Cardio uses some of the most devastating bodyweight circuits to melt away fat and build strength at the same time. The best part is that these workouts take less than 30 minutes to finish!