21 Cardio Exercises for Perfect Shape


What a fine number – 21. Winning twenty-one, gentlemen! And this lucky number fits the exercises everyone should do, regardless of your build, the sports you go in for, your physique, your religion and your hair color. However, it’s not yet clear for everyone that cardio training doesn’t require exhausting yourself to death on a treadmill or other exercise machine every single time. Precisely these exercises are designed for home training. You won’t need any sports gear except for an overturned chair.

How to Do

There’s no need to do the whole list in one single day. This is cardio exercises, not a complete workout. So choose 3 exercises from the list, and this will be your plan for the day. On another day take the next 3. Keep doing each exercise for 30–60 seconds in 2–3 sets.


Feet shoulder-width apart, arms locked. Raise your arms up bending your back, bow and keep moving your body forward putting your hands on the ground and making steps with them; make sure your legs remain straight. As soon as your body is stretched, and you find yourself in the straight-arm plank position, start “stepping” back. Remember to keep your legs, arms and back straight all the time. To make this exercise a bit more hardcore do 1-5 push-ups while in the plank.

Feet shoulder-width apart, stand nice and straight. Lift your right knee up, put your left hand around it and, remaining in such an elegant position, jump up landing on your left foot. Then switch to another leg. Focus on the height of your jump and your speed.


Get into a straight-arm plank position. Then bend your left knee and move it to your right elbow twisting your body nicely. Then try to do the same but with your right knee and your left elbow. Bend your left knee to the right elbow, then your right knee to your left elbow. Keep doing it as quickly as possible, but not in a slapdash manner. You can make it even harder – move your knees right under your chest.


Once again, get into our favorite straight-arm plank, this time putting your toes together. Now, jump spreading your legs apart and then jump bringing them together. Make sure your arms are straight. This exercise should be done in a quick and vigorous manner. Don’t jump too high.


Do you remember that refined torture at PE lessons, when you had to run in circles kicking your butt with your heels? Butt kick running is an unforgettable time-tested exercise. You know what to do.

Do the same plank again, but this time legs need to be placed shoulder-width apart. Now start lifting your hips up (as if reaching out your butt toward the sun) and bringing your right hand to your left knee. Then go back to the starting position and do the same with your left hand. If you can do everything quickly – all honor to you!

Classic cardio for all times. Legs together, arms along the body. Then jump up spreading your legs apart and clapping your hands above your head. The key is to do everything with proper timing and at a high pace.

Vertical jump from a squatting position. Crouch with your legs placed shoulder-width apart, your arms pulled back. Now try to jump up as high as you can, putting your hands forward. Jumping high is the key of this exercise.

Place your legs thigh-wide, slightly bend them, your arms pulled back – a typical broad jump stance. Make a jump (no need to jump too far – you’re not trying to beat world records here) and right after landing on your feet, stand on your toes and quickly mince backwards to the starting point. The higher your skill in this exercise is, the further you need to jump.

During this exercise you will need a little time off from gravity. And you also need to jump high pulling your bent knees almost to your chest and spreading your arms. Before the jump place your hands along your body.


Get into our favorite straight-arm plank, move your right foot to your left hand and try to touch your hand stretched to the side (your left hand, respectively) with your toe. Then repeat with the remaining arm and leg. You need to do it conscientiously and at a high pace; otherwise there is no sense in this exercise.

Stand on your right leg, jump 3 times, then bend down to the position of the middle plank (with your left leg up) and walk forward on your hands until the supporting leg straightens. Make three push-ups, then step back and return to the starting position. The raised leg, of course, can’t be put down until you return to the starting position.

While in a straight-arm plank, try to reach your left palm with your left foot. Try to touch it not from the inside, but from the outside, and then switch your legs in a jump. Now do the same thing with your right foot. It would be great if you could do this exercise at a high pace.
You will need a chair or a bench, or some steady object of medium height. Put your right leg on the surface of this object and with the help your hip muscles take a step up, as if climbing the step. Try to keep your back straight. Top performance – if you do it with your hands pressed to your body. Eventually, you need to stand on the object with both feet. Prepare: this is what you will experience climbing stairs when you get old.

Stand in a wide and very low lunge: right foot ahead, left one behind. You can support yourself stretching out your left arm. And here comes the most difficult thing: you need to jump out of this position. To do this, rise smoothly, gradually bringing your left foot forward and then, when you’re in a standing position, jump up and lift your knee to your elbow. After that immediately return to the starting position and don’t forget to switch your leg.

Classic in its purest form. Jump to a squatting position, get into a push-up position, do a push-up, pull your legs to your chest, stand up straight out of the jump and clap your hands above your head. Everything seems to be clear, but it’s really difficult, especially when doing this exercise at a high pace. One repetition is not bad.


This one may seem to be a rather strange exercise, but the benefits of it are enormous. Lie on your back, stretching out your torso and legs. For safety, place your hands under the lower back and lift your extended legs to a height of 20-30 cm from this position. Then do quite an unexpected thing – abruptly swing your legs up, as if trying to hit someone. Do it several times. If you suddenly feel cramps in the lower back, immediately stop the exercise.


So, get into our favorite straight-arm plank position– the base of the majority of our cardio training. You need to make a very strange movement – from your outstretched arms drop to your elbows. Then return to the starting position and very quickly bring your knees under your chest. Alternately: first left knee, then right one, not all at once. Three repetitions should be enough.


Good old box jumps. Put a chair, a table, a stool or a bench in front of you. You can use a simple stair. And all you need to do is to jump on it with both feet. But you need to do this several times in a row, at a high pace, and it will be easier if you do your jumps from the starting position (arms back, knees bent).


Get into a straight-arm plank, but this time you need to bend your knees with your feet together. And now you need to show some advanced acrobatics – jump and bring your feet up. Move your weight forward to your arms, but don’t lift your torso – it’s only the legs that are pulled up.


For this exercise a low bench will do best because you can’t do it with any chair or stool. You can stack up some books, but don’t make the stack too high.

You need to stand next to this stack or chair and try to jump sideways over them. The secret is not only to jump higher, but also to pull up your legs in time. Ideally, you’re supposed to land on both legs at once, but at the initial stage it can be quite difficult: you may fail to straighten your legs, or in the worst scenario trip over the obstacle. Therefore, you can land on one leg. For example, jump to the right, land on your right foot first and then on the left one. Try to perform these jumps as fast as you can.


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