Your heart is the most important muscle in your body, so cardiovascular exercise should be part of everyone’s workout regime, no matter your personal fitness goals. Lower intensity cardio makes for a perfect pre-cool-down exercise, easing your body down from a tough set and speeding recovery time. More intense cardio workouts also are great if you’re low on time, as they let you work hard over a short period.
In addition to a stronger and healthier heart and lungs, cardio fitness can improve your brain function, bone density and hormonal profile. A great cardiovascular workout also helps you sleep better and alleviates depression. To help you gain these excellent benefits, here are some of the best cardio workouts.
The Best Cardio Exercises
Quick Cardio Blast
Following a five-minute warmup of light jogging, this exercise has three intensity levels to choose from. Whichever you pick, repeat the circuit eight times before finishing.
- Jog for 60 seconds
- Walk for 120 seconds
- Sprint for 30 seconds
- Walk for 60-90 seconds
- Go all-out for 20 seconds
- Walk for 60 seconds.
Cycling Speed Workout
Warm up for 15 minutes with moderate effort before beginning this increasingly intense bicycle workout. Continue pedalling during the recovery sections with a light but consistent pace.
- Remaining seated, pedal hard for 10 seconds. Recover for 1 minute.
- Remaining seated, pedal hard for 20 seconds. Recover for 1 minute.
- Remaining seated, pedal hard for 30 seconds. Recover for 1 minute.
- Standing up, pedal hard for 10 seconds. Sit down and recover for 1 minute.
- Standing up, pedal hard for 20 seconds. Sit down and recover for 1 minute.
- Standing up, pedal hard for 30 seconds. Sit down and recover for 2 minutes.
- Ride at a moderate pace for 5 minutes, then cool down at a light pace for another 5 minutes.
Nothing gets the heart going like an exercise that works multiple muscles at once, and here are two such exercises rolled into one!
- With your feet shoulder-width apart, lower your body (keeping the weight in your heels) until your thighs are almost parallel to the floor.
- Quickly drop your hands to the floor, jumping your feet backwards into a plank position.
- Immediately jump back to the squat position.
- Repeat for 20 total reps to complete 1 set.
Glute-Sculpting Treadmill Workout
One mistake many people make with cardio fitness is picking one intensity and sticking with it the whole way through. This 20-minute treadmill workout keeps you from getting too comfortable by switching up the incline every minute or two. Beginners should set the treadmill to about 5.5 km/h, intermediate 6.5, and advanced up to 8.
- 5 minutes, 3-3.5% incline
- 2 minutes, 8-10% incline
- 1 minute, 4-6% incline
- 2 minutes, 10% incline
- 1 minute, 5-7% incline
- 2 minutes, 12% incline
- 1 minute, 10% incline
- 1 minute 12% incline
- 5 minutes, 2-4% incline