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The Best Cardio Exercises To Get Your Heart Rate Pumping


Cardiovascular (cardio) exercises are exercises which increase your heart rate for prolonged periods of time, for example running, swimming, skipping, or cycling.

There are plenty of benefits to be had from including cardio in your weekly workouts, including easier weight management, improved heart health, better sleep, and reduced risk of many diseases including certain cancers, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.

5 Cardio Moves to Get Your Heart Pumping

How much cardio per day should you do?

The guidelines for how much cardio you should get each day varies. The National Institute of Health recommends people do at least 30 – 45 minutes of moderate cardio every day, while the NHS recommends either 150 minutes of moderate cardio or 75 minutes of intense cardio a week (with exercise spread over 4 or 5 days).

Not everyone has the time (or willingness) to do 30 minutes of moderate cardio every single day. Fortunately, you can get all the benefits of cardio (and meet the NHS guidelines) in a shorter space of time by doing High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts (learn more about the benefits of HIIT here).

We’ve created a 15-minute HIIT cardio workout that will get your heart working, burn calories, and get those endorphins flowing.

These no equipment cardio exercises can be done at home or in the gym, making them even easier to fit into your weekly routine.

5 Cardio Moves to Get Your Heart Pumping

Perform each of these moves for 40 seconds, with a 20 second rest between each. Repeat 3 times, with a 60 – 90 second rest between rounds.

  1. 180 Pop Squats
  2. High Knees
  3. Skaters
  4. Burpees
  5. Squat Jacks

  1. 180 Pop Squats

    • Stand with your legs slightly wider than hip-width apart
    • Descend into a squat position, pushing your hips and glutes back as if you were going to sit on a chair
    • Once in the squat position, drive up through your legs, generating power to jump upwards
    • As you jump, begin to rotate 90 degrees and bring both feet together. Land lightly in a neutral position before jumping upwards again while rotating another 90 degrees and dropping back into your squat position
    • Repeat back in the other direction for the recommended number of reps
  2. High Knees

    • Start with your feet hip-width apart, with a slight bend in your knees
    • Bring your left knee up towards your chest in a marching motion
    • With a slight spring in your step switch to lift your right knee to your chest
    • Continue this movement, alternating legs and speed up the pace if you can to either a jog, run or sprint
    • Aim to drive your knees as high as possible, keeping your spine neutral, chest up and core braced throughout
  3. Skater Lunges

    • Start in a neutral position with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart with a slight bend in your knee
    • Step your left leg back diagonally behind your right leg as you drop into a lunge position – keeping your chest lifted and core braced
    • As you drive out of the lunge position, try to keep low and use your left log to hop back over to the left side
    • Now bring your right leg back diagonally behind your left leg and drop into a lunge position again
    • Continue to repeat on both sides, using your outside leg to generate power to hop between sides
  4. Burpees

    • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Brace your core and drop into a high plank position by placing your hands on the floor and kicking your feet behind you
    • Your palms should be directly under your shoulders in your plank position and try to keep your hips in a nice straight line with your shoulders
    • Next, lower your plank into a press-up, keeping the straight line between your head and your heels, keeping your elbows tucked to either side of your body
    • Push yourself back up out of your press-up position and jump your feet towards the outside of your hands
    • Drive up through your legs and jump as high as you can and then repeat from the top
  5. Squat Jacks

    • Start with your hands by your side and your feet together
    • Jump your feet out slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and lift your arms above your head
    • Now drop down into a squat position, before exploding out of the squat back into a jack
    • Continue to repeat for the recommended time or reps

We’ve shared some more of our favourite cardio workouts here and three gym cardio workout plans here if you want to add variety to your cardio workouts. Don’t forget, a good training routine will incorporate both cardio and strength training. You can access free workouts on our free PureGym app.

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