Keeping a consistent workout routine isn't always the easiest thing in the world for the modern man, especially if you have a jam-packed schedule or you just have a hard time leaving your house to make the most of your gym membership. Yes, you want to get your heart rate up and break a sweat, but you can't always walk out your door to do it. You can turn to home workouts instead, opting for low- or no-gear routines that can build muscle and strength, but if you want truly balanced home training, you'll also have to include some cardio workouts, too.

By "cardio," we mean workouts designed to challenge your cardiovascular system—also known as "aerobic training," since your body uses oxygen when you do it. From running to rowing to sets of burpees, this type of exercise will raise your heart and breath rate, ultimately strengthening your heart and longs, improving your endurance, and burning calories.

You might be predisposed to define yourself against the whole concept of cardio in your exercise routine—we've had our moments at MH, to be sure—but there's much more to cardio workouts than just long, boring jogs (low-intensity steady-state training, a.k.a. LISS). You don't necessarily have to become a running fiend, only pounding the pavement or the treadmill track to get your training fix; there are plenty of other options for you to choose from that you can do with just a little space and a lot of concentrated effort.

Benefits of Home Cardio Workouts

Home cardio workouts have more benefits than just being a part of a well-balanced exercise plan, too. If your goals are aimed at shedding weight and changing your body composition, you'll find more success if you include some form of cardio.

A study published in BMC Public Health found that people who were overweight and obese had more success in a 12-week program exercise program that consisted of both cardio and weight training than people who performed only cardio or only weight training protocols. Participants who used both exercise modalities together lost more body fat—including unhealthy belly fat, a.k.a. visceral fat, which puts you at risk of a long list of health problems—than the other participants.

So you're going to want to do at least some cardio training. What that doesn't mean, however, is that the only choice you have for cardio is implementing long, boring outdoor jogs, or investing in expensive pieces of equipment like stationary bikes or treadmills. You can find ways to sneak cardio work into your more traditional strength training workouts, making your workouts even more effective and your body healthier.

One way to do that is to ramp up your cardio work indoors at home. Here are a few of our favorite cardio workouts that will get your heart rate up, scorch some serious calories, and leave your muscles feeling pumped.

Indoor Cardio Workouts and Exercises

These moves are easy to implement into HIIT-style circuits so you can get a sweat on without heavy equipment like treadmills or rowers.


preview for Burpee | Form Check

Yes, you knew this was coming. Burpees are often the go-to bodyweight cardio move trainers use to challenge (and sometimes punish) their clients. When you add them to your workout, focus on form, not speed, to keep yourself healthy and safe. You'll jack up your heart rate either way.

Kettlebell Swings

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You'll build power and strength with this killer exercise for the posterior chain, but you can string long sets of reps together to get your heart pumping, too. If you're working with lots of volume, grab a lighter weight than if you're more focused on power.

Ball Slams

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Ultimately, slams are an exercise that is all about power. When you add them to circuits that include some of the other featured moves, however, you can begin to work up quite a sweat. Make sure to avoid rushing through the reps to get the most out of the move.

Battle Ropes

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Used properly, battle ropes are an absolute torcher. Try working through alternate sets of waves, slams, and other iterations to keep your workout fresh.

Jump Rope

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Jump roping isn't just for the playground. The highly effective tool, which some studies have found can be much more effective than running, can pack a ton of work into a short, engaging workout.

Dumbbell Thruster

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Compound exercises with weights are a very easy way to get your heart rate going without running. String enough reps together, and you'll be breathing heavy in no time—just make sure to keep your form on point.

Rowing Machine Workouts

When rowing machines first hit the market decades ago, most hardcore exercisers didn’t even give this piece of equipment a second look. But now, these machines seem to be the cornerstone of most gyms.

The rower gives you an awesome workout that challenges your cardiovascular system, upper body, and legs—essentially giving you a total body workout.

Men's Health Advisory Board member David Otey, P.P.S.C., C.S.C.S. uses this rowing workout with his clients.

How to do it:

1. Row for 200 meters (m) at a moderate pace for a warmup

2. Row for 250 m at 70 percent effort. Rest two to three times as long as your “work” interval. For instance, if it takes you one minute to row 250 m, your “rest’ period would be two to three minutes.

3. Repeat this six times total.

Airdyne Machine Workouts

If you have access to an Airdyne bike that uses both your arms and legs, hop on and get moving. The goal here is to work your quads, hamstrings, and glutes with a harder resistance, while pumping your arms to increase your overall cardio conditioning.

Here’s one of Otey’s favorite cardio crushers.

How to do it:

1. Pedal for 10 calories with just your arms, followed immediately by 10 calories with your legs, and then 10 calories with your full body.

2. Rest for 90 seconds.

3. Repeat for five times total.

Barbell Complexes

gym   men doing front squats
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The barbell complex is for the guy who refuses to get on any piece of cardio equipment, period. But beware, this workout is intense.

Otey starts most guys off with 95 pounds on the bar, but you can adjust the weight depending on your fitness level. You’ll go directly from one exercise to the next, with no rest until your entire circuit is done.

How to do it:

1. Perform 15 front squats.

2. Perform 15 shoulder presses.

3. Perform 15 bent-over rows

4. Perform 15 Romanian deadlifts

5. Rest for two minutes. Perform five to eight rounds total.

Bodyweight Workouts

Men’s Health training advisor David Jack recommends bodyweight circuits for increasing your heart rate and getting a total-body workout.

This type of workout is appropriate for any fitness level since the intensity can be modified to match your cardio level.

However, if you have any upper or lower body joint issues, you may want to swap out a few of these exercises for ones that are lower impact. For example, if you have knee problems, swap out burpees for shadow boxing. Try this circuit from Otey.

How to do it:

1. Perform 20 bodyweight squats.

2. Perform 20 jumping jacks.

3. Perform 20 burpees.

4. Perform 20 pushups.

5. Perform 20 mountain climbers.

6. Rest for two minutes. Do five to eight rounds total.

Versaclimber Workouts

If you’ve ever wondered what if feels like to climb a mountain—but you don’t exactly have one at your disposal—then hop on one of these bad boys and start climbing. Known for giving you a sweat slogging cardio workout, the VersaClimber also challenges the muscles of your upper and lower body.

Try this workout designed by Otey.

How to do it:

1. Work for 45 seconds. Rest for 45 seconds.

2. Work for 50 seconds. Rest for 50 seconds.

3. Work for 55 seconds. Rest for 55 seconds.

4. Work for 60 seconds. Rest for 60 seconds.

5. Work for 60 seconds. Rest for 45 seconds.

6. Work for 55 seconds. Rest for 50 seconds.

7. Work for 50 seconds. Rest for 55 seconds.

8. Work for 45 seconds. Rest for 60 seconds.

9. Rest for three minutes. Perform three rounds total.

Related: The 5 Best Cardio Machines On the Planet

Boxing Workouts

young sporty hispanic man with fingerless gloves outdoors in the city, standing in a boxing position
Halfpoint Images//Getty Images

Cardio boxing is an intense, scalable workout that boasts full-body benefits. Boxing moves condition the entire body and provide a complete workout for your cardiovascular system as well as increases your stamina, speed, strength, and coordination.

Ideal for the office worker seeking stress relief at the end of their day or an athlete in need of cross training, cardio boxing and conditioning is a versatile, enjoyable workout. And since you can adjust the intensity of these moves this workout is appropriate for most fitness levels.

Jack uses shadow boxing, line drills, and space agility drills when designing indoor cardio workouts for clients. He also likes incorporating all three into his own workouts. Try his workout below—you won’t rest until all the moves are completed.

How to do it:

1. Shadow box (hook) for three minutes. The hook is a boxing move performed with a bent arm and a rapid rotation of your hips and core.

2. Perform a lateral shuffle for three minutes.

3. Jump rope for three minutes.

4. Rest for two to three minutes. Perform three rounds total.

Slider Workouts

preview for This 5-Minute Brrn Board Workout Targets Your Quads | Men’s Health Muscle

A slide board (like this one from BRRRN) offers you a novel home cardio option that breaks free from most standard workout styles. Instead of moving in the sagittal plane (front-to-back movement), you'll slide laterally instead (in the frontal plane), giving you a challenge that will both hone your athleticism and ramp up your heart rate.

Take on this 5-minute session that will set your quads on fire (and challenge your core, too):

●1 minute all-out lateral slides

●1 minute stiff leg bear crawl to mountain climbers

●1 minute all-out lateral slides

●1 minute stiff leg bear crawl to mountain climbers

●1 minute all-out lateral slides

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Sara Lindberg

Sara Lindberg, B.S., M.Ed., is a freelance writer focusing on health and fitness. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Exercise Science and a Master's Degree in Counseling. Her work is published in LIVESTRONG, Runner’s World, Bicycling Magazine, Men’s Health, SheKnows, Healthline,, HealthyWay, Yahoo Health,, and many more.

Headshot of Brett Williams, NASM

Brett Williams, a fitness editor at Men's Health, is a NASM-CPT certified trainer and former pro football player and tech reporter who splits his workout time between strength and conditioning training, martial arts, and running. You can find his work elsewhere at Mashable, Thrillist, and other outlets.