10-Minute Intensive Cardio Workout for Beginners in 2021 | No Equipment Needed
How it works
For this cardio workout, I’ve included a little bit of everything. You are going to tone your core, your upper body and your glutes, and you’re also going to get those legs moving.
Ideally, we should all be getting 30 minutes of fitness a day. But when time is tight, doing 10 minutes at this intense level-whenever you can fit it in-can make a real difference.
T-o get the most aerobic benefit from this workout, do as many of each exercise as you can, as fast as you can. If you need to, modify the moves by going with the lower-impact Easier Options until you have built up your aerobic stamina (but try to do at least one Jacked-up Squat Thrust!). If you do the Easier Options, gradually increase the number of times you try the tougher moves until you are no longer doing the easier option. As always, check with your doctor before starting a workout plan.
How it works
Warm Up: The first one-minute exercise segment will provide a brief warm-up to get your major muscles moving.
Gauge the Intensity: Use a stopwatch, the timer on your phone or a clock with a second hand to keep track of the time. Your working muscles should feel ready to change to a new exercise by the end of each segment.
Customize Moves to Your Needs: An easier option is provided for each of these moves. But do the tougher version for as much of the time as you can-without overdoing it.
Cool Down: For the final minute, you will stretch the major muscle groups you’ve just worked.
Warm-Up: 1 Minute
Do gentle jumping jacks, or walk briskly up and down a set of stairs while pumping your arms.
Chair Hops: 2 Minutes
Works: Arms, shoulders, abdominals, hamstrings and calves
Move a sturdy armless chair (or bench) into a clear area. A. Step back from the chair and move one to two feet to the left. Place both hands on the seat of the chair to use it for support. B. Hop both feet to the right, landing softly on the balls of your feet, then immediately hop to the left. Hop back and forth for two minutes.
Easier Option: Step as wide as you can to get from one side of the chair to the other for two minutes.
Jacked-Up Squat Thrusts: 2 Minutes
Works: Cardio, arms, shoulders, abdominals, glutes, hamstrings and calves
Stand with feet together and arms at your sides. A. Jump into a star-shaped jumping jack. B. Move into a low crouch, hands just in front of your feet, shoulder-width apart. C. Thrust both legs behind you so you’re in a push-up position, then immediately hop them back in and stand up. That’s one repetition. Do reps for 30 seconds, then march on the spot for 30 seconds. Repeat this sequence once more.
Easier Option: From the squat position, step one leg back at a time into push-up position.
Prisoner Squat Obliques: 1 Minute
Works: Obliques, glutes, hamstrings and calves
Stand with feet hip-width apart and place hands behind your head, keeping elbows wide. A. Move down into a squat with your weight back in your heels, knees in the same direction as your toes. B. As you stand up, lift your right knee wide and bring your right elbow down to meet it. Don’t pull on your head or neck, and be sure to engage through your obliques (side abs). Repeat sequence on right side for a total of 30 seconds. Switch to left side and repeat sequence for another 30 seconds.
Easier Option: Eliminate the squat. Bring your right knee up and your right elbow down to meet it, then go back to standing. Do this for 30 seconds, then switch to the left side for 30 seconds.
Mountain Climbers: 1 Minute
Works: Cardio, arms, shoulders, abdominals, glutes and legs
A. Start in a low lunge position with both hands on the floor, your right foot under your right shoulder, and your left leg straightened out behind you. B. Stay on the balls of your feet as you rapidly switch both legs, drawing one knee into your chest at a time. Pull in your abdominals and keep your hips level. Continue for 30 seconds, then rest for 15 seconds. For the remaining 15 seconds, increase the intensity and move legs as fast as you can.
Easier Option: Stand with feet together, then step your right leg back into a lunge, bringing shin parallel with the floor. Squeeze right glute as you stand up, then lunge your left leg back. Repeat this sequence for one minute.
Lunge Kicks: 2 Minutes
Works: Abdominals, glutes, hamstrings and calves
Stand with feet together. A. Lunge right leg behind you, dropping right shin parallel with the floor. Keep your chest lifted and shoulder blades pulled back. B. With power, put weight onto your left leg and swiftly bring the right leg forward into a high kick. Repeat sequence for one minute, then switch legs and repeat sequence for another minute.
Easier Option: For 20 seconds, do Lunge Kicks with your right leg. Rest for 20 seconds, then switch to the left leg for 20 seconds. Repeat sequence.
Cool Down: 1 Minute
Resting in “child’s pose” (kneel on the floor, sit back on your heels and extend arms in front of you), take deep breaths for 30 seconds. For the remaining 30 seconds, gently stretch the major muscle groups you’ve just worked.
Freelance writer Erin Phelan is a fitness trainer and mom of two. She is a regular contributor to Best Health.
These moves are demonstrated by fitness buff and marketing manager Robyn Baldwin.