Gym and studio closures and social distancing over the last few weeks mean many exercisers are taking their workout to their living room. But cardio exercises at home can be loud: Many require some form of jumping, which—while definitely effective at making you sweat—can also sound like an angry, giant-size toddler stomping around to your neighbors in the apartment below.
Stress levels are already high due to the new coronavirus, and you don’t want to make it any worse by adding tense neighbor relations to the mix. But you don’t have to miss out on an at-home cardio workout, either: You just need a workout that’s low-impact and cuts out the jumping but allows you to work at a high intensity.
The best way to do that is to incorporate lots of full-body, compound movements, Noam Tamir, CSCS, founder and CEO of TS Fitness in NYC, tells SELF.
“When you jump, you are using a lot more force—it’s multiple times your bodyweight that you are handling, so your heart rate is going to go up, and it’s going to be a lot more on your muscles and your joints,” he says. “However, doing moves that are multijoint, where hips, knees, shoulders, and everything is involved, are going to be more beneficial to get your heart rate up when you can’t do impact.” That means focus on big moves like squats or push-ups, rather than single-joint exercises like triceps extensions or bicep curls.
In order to best mimic the sweaty, I’m-really-breathing-hard-now response that you’d get with traditional, high-impact home cardio workouts, keep the rest short and reps high for these kinds of moves, he says. In the workout he created below, you’ll do that with a Tabata circuit (20 seconds of intense work followed by 10 seconds of rest), a regular circuit, where you’ll move from exercise to exercise without rest, an EMOM circuit (every minute on the minute), and an AMRAP circuit, where you complete as many rounds as possible during a given amount of time. (Of course, safety matters most, so if you feel too out of breath or like your form is degrading, give yourself additional time to rest.)
By combining these two factors—compound movements and intense work—you can get an at-home cardio workout that won’t drive your neighbors up the wall. As a happy bonus too, the low-impact nature of the workout is also great for those with joint issues who need to avoid high-impact moves, as well as for beginners who may not be able to execute jumping-based moves safely and effectively.
Want to get started? Try these cardio exercises at home to get sweating, fast.
What you’ll need: No equipment is required for this workout, though you may want an exercise mat for comfort during some of these moves.
- Marching Glute Bridge
- Plank With T-Spine Rotation
- Reverse Alternating Lunges
- Bodyweight Squats
- Lateral Lunge
- Downward Dog Mountain Climber
Circuit 2 (EMOM)
- Mountain Climbers
- Bicycle Crunches
Circuit 3 (AMRAP)
- Lateral Plank Walk
- Forward Lunge
- For the warm-up, do each move for 30 seconds, except for the plank with T-spine rotation, which you’ll do for 20 seconds on each side.
- For the Tabata, for each move do 20 seconds of work and then rest for 10 seconds. Do four rounds.
- For Circuit 1, complete the unilateral moves (lunge and mountain climber) for 25 seconds per side, and the Superman for 30 seconds. Do one–three rounds.
- For Circuit 2, set a timer for one minute, and complete 20 reps of each exercise on each side. Rest for the remainder of the minute. Do three rounds.
- For Circuit 3, set a timer for four minutes. Complete 10 reps of each exercise (five on each side for the first two). Do as many rounds as you can within that time.
- Start on all fours with your shoulders over your wrists and hips over your knees.
- Inhale slowly, and on the exhale, round your spine and drop your head toward the floor (this is the cat posture).
- Inhale and lift your head, chest, and tailbone toward the ceiling as you arch your back for cow. This is 1 rep.
- Perform for 30 seconds.
2. Marching Glute Bridge
- Lie faceup with your knees bent and your feet hip-width apart.
- Engage your core so your low back presses against the floor. From this engaged position, lift your hips, squeezing your glutes at the top. Hold here.
- Now, lift your right foot off the floor, bringing your knee toward your chest, and stopping when you’ve hinged your hip to about 90 degrees.
- Replace your foot on the floor and immediately lift your left foot off the floor to repeat on the other side. That’s 1 rep.
- Continue to march, alternating your feet, all while maintaining lifted hips.
- Perform for 30 seconds.
3. Plank With T-Spine Rotation
- Start in a high plank with your palms flat, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked directly above your wrists, legs extended behind you, and your core and glutes engaged. Place your feet hip-width apart.
- Rotate your entire body to the right into a side plank, so that your right shoulder is stacked above your right wrist and your left hand is extended toward the ceiling. Pause here for a second, then return to start. That’s 1 rep.
- Perform for 20 seconds before switching sides.
4. Alternating Reverse Lunges
- Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and engage your core.
- Step backward with your left foot, landing on the ball of your left foot and keeping your heel off the ground. Bend both knees to 90 degrees as you sink into a lunge. Focus on keeping your core engaged and your hips tucked (don’t stick your butt out). Sometimes, it can be helpful to place your hands on your hips so you can make sure your hips aren’t tilting to the side or forward and back.
- Push off the ball of your left foot to return to your starting position.
- Now step back with your right foot, and sink into a lunge on the other side. That’s 1 rep.
- Continue to lunge, alternating sides each time. Perform for 30 seconds.
- Start standing with your feet just wider than hip-width apart and engage your core.
- Hinge at your hips, sending your butt back, and bending both knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Focus on the movement coming from your hips, glutes, and hamstrings—not your knees and quads. Keep your core engaged so your back stays straight.
- Stand by squeezing your glutes and return to your starting position. That’s 1 rep.
- Perform for 20 seconds.
- Start in a high plank with your palms flat, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked directly above your wrists, legs extended behind you, and your core and glutes engaged.
- Bend your elbows and lower your chest to the floor. Drop to your knees if needed.
- Push through the palms of your hands to straighten your arms. That’s 1 rep.
- Perform for 20 seconds.
7. Lateral Lunge
- Stand with your feet together and your hands on your hips. This is the starting position.
- Take a big step (about 2 feet) out to the right. When your foot hits the floor, hinge forward at the hips, push your butt back, and bend your right knee to lower into a lunge.
- Pause for a second, and then push off your right leg to return to the starting position. That’s 1 rep.
- Perform for 25 seconds, then switch sides.
- Lie on your stomach with your legs extended behind you and your arms extended in front of you, palms resting on the floor. This is the starting position.
- Keep your abs and butt tight as you lift your upper body and lower body off the ground at the same time. Keep your neck in line with your spine by resting your gaze on your fingertips as they move.
- Hold for one to two seconds, and then lower back down. This is 1 rep.
- Complete for 30 seconds.
9. Downward Dog Mountain Climber
- Start in Downward Facing Dog, with your hands shoulder-width apart, butt lifted back and toward the ceiling, legs straight, arms extended, back flat, and your head in between your arms. Lift your right leg into the air to get into Down Dog Split (Three-Legged Down Dog).
- Bend your right knee and bring in toward your right elbow, moving your torso into a plank position as you do. Pause, then extend your right leg back to Down Dog Split.
- Next, bring your right knee under and across your torso toward your left elbow. Pause, then extend your right leg back to Down Dog Split. That’s 1 rep.
- Complete for 25 seconds, then switch sides.
10. Mountain Climber
- Start in high plank, with your palms flat on the floor, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked above your wrists, legs extended, and core engaged. This is the starting position.
- Keeping your core tight, draw your right knee to your chest. Keep your core engaged and back flat.
- Return to the starting position and immediately draw your left knee to your chest.
- Return your left leg to the starting position. That’s 1 rep.
- Continue to alternate. Perform 20 reps per side.
11. Bicycle Crunch
- Lie faceup with your legs in tabletop position (knees bent 90 degrees and stacked over your hips). Place your hands behind your head, elbows bent and pointing out to the sides. Use your abs to curl your shoulders off the floor. This is the starting position.
- Twist to bring your right elbow to your left knee, while simultaneously straightening your right leg.
- Then, twist to bring your left elbow to your right knee, simultaneously straightening your left leg.
- Continue alternating. Perform 20 reps per side.
12. Lateral Plank Walk
- Start in a high plank position with your palms flat on the floor, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked directly above your wrists, legs extended behind you, and your core and glutes engaged.
- Take a step to the right starting with your right hand and right foot and following with your left hand and foot, maintaining a plank position as you move. This is 1 rep.
- Perform 5 reps. Switch sides and do 5 more.
13. Forward Lunge
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands on your hips (as pictured) or hold them together in front of your chest. This is the starting position.
- Step forward (about 2 feet) with your right foot, and plant it firmly on the floor.
- Bend both knees to create two 90-degree angles with your legs. Your chest should be upright and your torso should be slightly forward so that your back is flat and not arched or rounded forward. Your right quad should be parallel to the floor and your right knee should be above your right foot. Your butt and core should be engaged.
- Push through your right foot to return to the starting position. That’s 1 rep.
- Perform 5 reps. Switch sides and do 5 more.
- Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and arms at your sides.
- Bend at your waist and place your hands on the floor.
- Walk your hands forward to come into a high plank with your hands flat and wrists stacked under your shoulders, and your core, quads, and butt engaged. Pause for a second.
- Walk your hands back to your feet and stand to return to start. That’s 1 rep.
- Perform 10 reps.