Best No Equipment Cardio Workouts

Best no equipment cardio workouts.

Cardio! That dreaded word, whether it’s Low Intensity Steady State (LISS) cardio or High Intensity Interval Training (HITT) cardio.

Most people prefer LISS as the name suggests, it’s very low impact and very low intensity but done for a period of time (45 minutes to and hour prior to meal 1 is most bodybuilders preferred option).

And HITT is interval training which alternates short periods of intense anaerobic exercise with less intense recovery periods, during which a person’s heart rate reaches at least 80 percent of its maximum capacity.

There are many debates out there as to which is preferred and as to which burns more fat but I won’t delve into that today.

So if you’re bored of the treadmill at the gym, jogging outdoors in the cold, or fed up of rowing machine or even the legendary elíptical machines, then check out my list of the best no equipment cardio workouts around.

Skipping / Jump Rope

Now I did say you don’t need any equipment and you can actually simulate a jump rope without actually needing a jump rope.

Simply simulate the arms as if you are holding a rope and jump accordingly while being in sync with your arms (as if your jumping over a rope).

Now according to the Cooper Institute Aerobic Test, jumping rope for ten minutes is the equivalent of doing a 30 minute run.

Now, if you want to burn more calories you cannot go wrong with this exercise, and if you jump rope faster this will lead to a more intense workout, as a 180 lb individual jumping for 10 minutes at 100 skips per minute will burn approximately 126 calories, based on the Metabolic Equivalent of Task (MET), and in this case the MET is 8.8.

Now if you want a more accurate reading then there are many calorie calculators online that can assist you or use the formula below:

Calories burned per minute = (MET** x body weight in Kg x 3.5) ÷ 200

**MET – Metabolic Equivalent of Task

*MET for 100 skips or less per minute:     8.8

MET for 100-120 skips per minute:    11.8

MET for 120-160 skips per minute:    12.3

Can be done with or without a rope.

Shadow boxing

Another no equipment cardio routine you can utilize with minimal space, is shadow boxing.

And many boxers shadow box to improve foot speed, agility, hand eye coordination and technique but this can also really get the heart rate going.

You can take on a:

  • square stance (literally square on with feet shoulder width apart)
  • fighter stance (feet staggered , with arms raised to cover the face)
  • Fighters stance with foot work incorporated

Now if you are right hand dominant you are classed as ‘Orthodox’ and if you are left hand dominant you are classed as a ‘Southpaw’.

The main punches are the:

Jab

Cross

Left hook

Right hook

Left uppercut

Right uppercut

As this is for fitness purposes rather than getting into a ring you can just do straight forward punches or make your own combo or stick the traditional combo below:

Jab, Jab, Cross (1.1.2)

Jab, Cross, Left Hook (1,2,3)

Jab, Cross, Left Hook, Cross (1,2,3,2)

Jab, Jab, Cross, Left Hook, RIght Uppercut (1,1,2,3,6)

Jab, Right Uppercut, Left Hook, Cross (1,6,3,2)

Now if you want to figure out the calories you have burnt then MET breakdown below will help you figure out your calorie output.

MET for boxing

Boxing, punching bag. 5.5

Boxing, sparring.   7.8

Boxing, in ring, general.  12.8

Alternative: Add small dumbbells and hold then while punching, this will add an even more increased shoulder burn.

Box Jumps

Box jump, or in this case, if you don’t have a box or bench or stool you can utilise then the stairs will work just as good.

This is an exercise that will help develop your explosive power, speed and even your strength.

As it’s a plyometric exercise, also known as plyos, it is beneficial for producing power and strength simultaneously. Plyos generally involves a stretch followed by a contraction of the muscles (so a jump being a prime example).

And if you actually incorporate box jumps directly after a set of squats, Post Activation  Potentiation (PAP), occurs, and this is essentially the pairing of a heavy strength movement (back squat) followed by a plyometric movement, which in this case would be the box jump.

According to Daniel Lorenz, DPT, ‘PAP is a phenomenon by which the force exerted by a muscle is increased due to its previous contraction.

Fatiguing muscle contractions impair muscle performance, but non-fatiguing muscle contractions at high loads with a brief duration may enhance muscle performance.

So the muscle fibers that were not recruited in the squats essentially are raring to go and post heavy load should enable you to have a better performance, ie able to jump higher.

Based on a 185 lb person, the calories burned can range from 311-444 per 30 minutes.

An alternative to box jumps: Jumping over a bench. You can have more stability by placing your hands on the bench and jumping from left to right over the bench itself. (If you do not have a bench use something similar which you can jump over, a box, a crate, a railing, etc).

Other suggestions

Cardio workouts that require equipment

Other cardio workouts I would have high on my list are:

Swimming – An awesome all body cardio workout that is easy on the joints but helps build strength and endurance. It’s great if you have access to a pool or gym that has one. Alternative being the closest lake (kidding).

Battle ropes – again if you have a set already or have access to them at your gym this is a great all round cardio workout that manages to hit pretty much all the major muscle groups.

Barbell thrusters – yes It does involve a barbell and weights but you don’t need to go heavy for it to really kick in. Another great all body exercise that will improve your cardiovascular endurance.

And below is a list of plyo cardio exercises you can do at home in a small spaces:

Skaters

Burpees

Tuck Jumps

High Knees

Mountain Climbers

Now that’s enough cardio for today. Happy holidays but more importantly happy lifting!

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https://www.cooperinstitute.org/2017/04/10/strength-training-for-fitnessgram

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29278062/

https://www.sciencedaily.com/terms/jump_rope.htm

https://www.health.harvard.edu/diet-and-weight-loss/calories-burned-in-30-minutes-of-leisure-and-routine-activities

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4637913/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32187147/

https://link.springer.com/article/10.2165/00007256-200939020-00004

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3164001/

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Mehmet Edip
Mehmet Edip is a fitness writer, actor, and model who has worked in the industry for over 8 years. He focuses on achieving his physique through an all natural plant-based diet and shares his insight via his workout & nutrition guides.