Cardio – some women love it, others can’t stand it. If you fall into the latter group, you probably just haven’t found the best cardio exercises for you yet. You may be wondering how you go about finding the best cardio exercises for you? I actually covered this topic a few months back in a blog called “Knowing your Exercise Personality and Finding What Works for You”. Did you know you have an exercise personality?? You do!
When many people think of cardio exercises, they automatically think treadmill or elliptical machine. But guess what, you don’t need a treadmill, stationary bike or a cross trainer to get that killer cardio workout you’re looking for. There are plenty of great and very effective cardio exercises for women to get your heart pumping. Are you ready for the ultimate calorie-blasting fix? Read on.
The key to getting the ultimate cardio workout is to warm up properly and switch up your cardio exercises, so you challenge your body and it doesn’t grow complacent!
The Warm Up!
Warm up with four short exercises that stretch the body while getting the blood pumping. Perform each exercise for a minute or so without any rest in between until you’re ready to move on to a high-energy cardio workout that will improve cardiorespiratory health and burn calories!
- High Knees
To begin your warm-up, jog across the room, bringing your knees up to waist level. Try to increase speed as you get warmer.
- The Reverse Lunge
Start with the reverse lunge by taking a giant step backwards with your left leg. Bend your knees, lowering your body slowly into a low lunge position. Your front knee should be directly over the ankle. Push off the ball of your right foot to return to your original start position. Repeat again, but this time with your right leg.
- The Warm-Up Squat
Standing with your feet hip-width apart, raise your arms above your head with your palms facing each other. Bending both knees, lower your body as if you were sitting on a chair. Your weight is distributed mostly in your heels. Push up through the heels and return to your standing position.
- The Bridge
This common yoga pose is great for getting your body warmed up as well as loosening stiff joints. Lie on the floor on your back with your hands by your sides. Beginning with a pelvic tilt, use your glutes to pull your hips up off the floor, hold for a few seconds and then slowly lower your back down to the floor again.
Now you’re done with your warm up (yes, that was just the warm up!), it’s time to begin some of the most effective cardio exercises for women that will not only help transform your body, but also your mind.
Do each of the following five exercises for one minute each for three rounds. Take a 60-second break between each round.
- Mountain Climbers
Mountain climbers are popular for a reason – because they’re effective! The mountain climber exercise strengthens the arms, core and even the lower body, but thanks to the constant switching of the legs, it’s guaranteed to get the heart going, too.
Get into a straight-arm plank. Raise your right knee toward your chest and quickly switch back and forth as if you’re running. Be sure to keep your hips in a straight line with your body.
Burpees are another hardcore cardio exercise that are effective and don’t require any equipment other than yourself. Work your entire body, enhance your strength and get your heartrate up!
Standing tall with your feet hip-width apart, bend your knees while swinging your arms backwards and jump off the floor. As you land, bend your knees and place your hands on the floor. Once your hands hit the floor, jump your feet back and take yourself into the plank position. Lower your chest all the way to the floor. Jump back up onto your feet, jump upwards again and repeat.
- Squat Jumps
You’ll be pleased to know squats come in many forms. The squat jump is a great cardio exercise that also works the core, glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves.
Standing with your feet hip-width apart, push the hips backwards while bending your knees to lower yourself into a squat position. From here, give it your all and jump as high as you can, lifting your arms above your head, and immediately squat down again and repeat the process.
- Skier Jumps
Not a skier? No problem. You don’t need to be to do this exercise. But if you’re planning a ski trip this coming winter, this great cardio workout exercise is the bomb!
Stand up straight and tall, keeping your knees, ankles and feet together and jump from side to side as quickly as possible. Focus on the speed not the height of the jump and work up a quick sweat.
- Bear Crawl to Backwards Jog
To get into the bear crawl position, crouch down with your hands and feet on the floor. Crawl forward as quickly as you can for at least 12-15 feet, stand up and jog backwards to your starting position. Repeat with bear crawl forward and backwards jog. You’ll get new respect for the bear’s mode of transportation!
The Cool Down – You Earned It!
Now that you’ve completed your cardio routine, it’s important to cool down properly. A combination of Pilates and yoga exercises is the perfect way to wind down after a burst of cardio.
- The Pilates 100
Lie on your back on the floor with your feet in the air, knees and hips bent at a 90-degree angle while keeping your hands by your side. Lift up your head, shoulders and your upper back from the floor and pulse your arms while taking deep breaths. Do 100 pulses.
- The Downward Dog
Probably the most famous of all yoga poses, the downward dog is the perfect way to stretch your body after a sweaty cardio workout. Place your hands and feet on the floor with your hips piked in the air, spreading your fingers wide and tucking in your toes. While inhaling, lift your knees upwards and press your hips up towards the ceiling and bring your heels down to floor. Hold your pose for approximately 30 seconds while inhaling deeply.
- The Warrior II
The name says it all. This awesome yoga pose helps to strengthen your legs while opening up the hips and chest. Not only this, this simple but also effective yoga pose improves concentration and balance.
Stand tall in a wide stance with your feet spread far apart while turning your toes on your right foot forward and your left foot in at a 45-degree angle. Bending your right knee, lower your hips, making sure that your right knee remains above your ankle. Extend your arms out, reaching end to end through your fingertips. Continue pushing your hips lower, ensuring your spine remains long. Hold your pose for about 30 seconds while taking deep breaths.
Congratulations, your cardio session is complete! Don’t forget to rehydrate after a sweaty workout. Keep it up and become even more fierce than you already are!