There may be nothing new under the sun, as the good book says. When it comes to fitness and cardio workouts, however, modern science gives us a fresh perspective on specific types of cardio exercise.
Running has always been a great cardio workout, but it may not necessarily be the best exercise for boosting heart rate or burning calories. For example, a low-intensity or moderate-intensity long run is less likely to boost your heart rate than, say, a fat-blasting cardio circuit complete with high knees, squat jumps, burpees, plyometrics, mountain climbers and jump rope exercise.
Of course, running is the simplest way exercise when it comes to cardio and weight loss. However, innovative workout routines like high-intensity interval training (HIIT) are giving more dynamic cardio options to fitness trainers and independent gym regulars that can target specific goals.
Additionally, one of the many benefits to a HIIT workout is that it’s low-impact exercise routine that works great for almost everyone, from no-gym workout warriors to CrossFit enthusiasts alike. HIIT exercise often involves a cardio circuit with various bodyweight exercises that will elevate your heart rate and burn calories without any fancy equipment or state-of-the-art stationary bike.
Like any other workout, high-intensity cardio workouts require proper form. This will prevent injury and maximize more specific goals within the workout itself, such as calorie burning and heart rate increase.
Here to help is Caroll Zeamer, a NASM certified personal trainer and corrective exercise specialist. Although Caroll believes in stepping outside of your comfort zone is important, she also knows certain discomfort can result from bad form. Unlike
Caroll recommends the following four moves in if you’re looking to get some heart pumping cardio with only your bodyweight:
- High Knees
- Side Shuffle
- Lunge Jumps
Burpees are so good at engaging your whole body. Though my clients always seem to give me the evil eye when I give them.”
For those who haven’t done burpees much in the past, Caroll recommends a slower pace with this cardio workout. “If you have any mobility issues, take your time coming down,” she says. “Take out the push-up coming to the ground. Stay in the plank position. And then work your way back up. You can take out the jump, if you have any hip issues, as well.”
Laughter is a fun way to target cardio, and Caroll says high knees often bring this bonus for her older clients. “High knees are a really good way to make your older clients laugh,” she says. “If you tell them to do that at the beginning of a workout, they start giggling, engaging the core. And it’s also a better way to engage the lower abdominals, as well.”
Cardio workouts can also help bring other benefits to the body, besides calorie burning and an increased heart rate. The side shuffle is a perfect example of this.
“Side shuffle is a really good way to engage your hips, making yourself able to catch yourself in case you would fall, and being able to move side to side as quickly as possible,” Caroll says.
Another great HIIT exercise and cardio workout is a routine of lunge jumps. This simple workout may look easy, but it qualifies as high-intensity interval training for a reason. A few repetitions of this exercise and your heart rate and calorie burn count will soar.
“Lunges are a great way to engage the whole entire lower body.” Caroll says. “It works every single component– the glutes, quads, hamstrings, tensor fasciae latae, the calves, both components of the calves. And moving back and forth, it’s going to help raise the heart rate, as well.”
Other great HIIT workouts that provide cardiovascular exercise include:
- Squat jumps
- Jump rope
- Mountain climbers
Caroll talks about each of these moves in the video below or see her Killer HIIT Workout.