The importance of staying fit during this lockdown period has been made a priority all over the world, with the online emergence of everything from daily fitness challenges to live Zoom workouts.
As we start to re-establish a normal routine and head back to work and school, it may become quite challenging to squeeze in a daily workout.
But regular cardio training is incredibly important to overall health.
First and foremost, it improves cardiovascular health by strengthening your heart and lowering blood pressure.
Regular cardio workouts also have additional benefits such as weight maintenance, lowering blood sugar, improving sleep, and boosting your mood.
These benefits result in improved overall body functioning, which is why cardio exercise is the key to good health.
How Much Cardio is Necessary?
The word cardio is often associated with running with many people thinking they need to lace up their shoes and hit the pavement every day of the week.
However, this is not true.
Short bursts of elevated heart rate may even be more beneficial than those long boring run sessions.
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that most people should aim for 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of intense physical activity per week.
But research shows that even short bursts of activity can have incredible benefits.
What is HIIT?
HIIT or High-Intensity Interval Training is a short, intense workout that involves short periods of intensity where the heart reaches around 80-90% of one’s maximal heart rate followed by short periods of rest.
The great thing about this type of workout is that it provides very similar benefits to longer cardio sessions.
One study found that HIIT improves cardiorespiratory fitness almost twice as much as longer moderate cardio sessions.
Other studies have shown that HIIT workouts are also more efficient at burning fat and improving lean body mass compared to moderate steady-state cardio.
There are numerous other benefits of HIIT workouts, but that’s enough talking. Let’s get into it!
20-Minute Indoor Cardio Workout
This 20-minute body-weight HIIT workout you can do at home with no equipment needed.
This workout consists of six exercises that target all of the major muscle groups and is sure to get your heart pumping hard.
The best thing about it is that it is all over in just twenty minutes.
Perform each of the exercises below as hard as you can for 30 seconds. Between each exercise, take a short break.
The suggested break times are as follows:
- Beginners - 30-second break
- Intermediates - 20-second break
- Advanced - 10-second break
When you complete the round, take a 1-minute rest.
Aim to complete 5 rounds total
How to do Split Jumps
- Start in a ready stance, facing forward with one leg forward and one leg backward. Your arms should be bent in a running position.
- Sink your body, dropping the back knee down and keeping both knees at a ninety-degree angle - this loads your body in preparation to jump.
- Drive both feet off the floor at the same time, and explode into the air. Switch your legs and arms in the air
- Land on both feet in the original position.
The split jump works the glutes, hamstrings, calves, and hip flexors. It works both leg strength and power while also requiring core stability, balance, and coordination. It is also one of the best exercises to raise the heart rate.
How to do Burpees
- Start standing. Slightly bend your knees into a half-squat position.
- Reach forward and place both palms on the ground out in front of you.
- Keep the weight in your hands and jump your legs backward into a plank position. If you are advanced, you can do a push up before returning to the plank position.
- From the plank position, jump your legs forward to your hands.
- Reach your hands above you as you explode into a jump. Stay tall and strong while completing the jump.
Burpees are one of the most dreaded exercises, but they are also one of the best. Burpees are a full-body workout that dramatically increases cardiovascular fitness, strength, and explosive power.
How to do Cross Crunches
- Lie flat on your back with your arms behind you head or reached out in front of you.
- Contract your abdominals as you lift your shoulders and back slightly off the floor.
- Keep your abdominals contracted as you rotate your torso slightly to one side.
- Rotate back and lower your body back to the starting position.
- Repeat on the other side.
This exercise is great for strengthening your abdominals and oblique muscles. It also provides a nice breather from the more intense cardio-hitting exercises.
How to do Mountain Climbers
- Begin in a plank position with your arms extended below your shoulders and feet hip width apart. Keep your balance evenly distributed through the hands and feet.
- Drive one knee in towards your chest whilst maintaining balance and extend it back out.
- Drive the opposite knee in towards your chest. Alternate both knees, running each knee in and out.
Mountain climbers are intense and have great cardio benefits. They also greatly work to strengthen the core muscles and require stability.
How to do Squat Jumps
- Start in a squat position with the knees slightly bent.
- Lower into a squat. At the bottom engage your core and explode off both feet, jumping as high as you can.
- Land softly in a squat position.
Squat jumps strengthen the glutes, hamstrings, quads and core. They build explosive power whilst also greatly elevating the heart rate.
How to do Plank Jacks
- Start in a plank position, with your shoulders over your wrists and your feet together.
- Jump your legs wider than your shoulders then back together again - like a jumping jack.
- Repeat as fast as you can whilst maintaining stability.
How to Improve Your Performance While Stuck at Home
Being stuck at home in the current situation is the perfect opportunity to improve one of the most overlooked aspects of performance: breathing!
Respiratory muscle training can be done in around just 10 minutes. Using a device like the Airofit can improve the strength and endurance of your breathing muscles, making them more resistant to fatigue, and able to work harder and longer during high intensity workouts such as the one in this article. Check out how it works here!