4 high- and low-impact cardio workouts that don’t require equipment

If you’re strapped for time or have gym anxiety, it’s possible to do an effective workout at home. While it’s easy to purchase weights and bands for resistance workouts, it can be hard to find the right cardio equipment that doesn’t take up major space in your house.

High- and low-impact exercises can give the same effect and burn as a treadmill or elliptical. To get started, all you need is a little room and the willingness to push your limits.

The best way to get a great at-home cardio workout is to implement plyometric exercises, which are full-body movements in short quick bursts.

“Those exercises are perfect for a cardio workout at home, as they save space and time because it requires max effort. And thus, less overall time spent, while also offering strength, power, and cardio benefits,” Judine Saint Gerard, NASM-CPT, head coach at Tone House in New York, told Health. “With these added benefits of strength and power, it may be even better than just trotting away on the elliptical.”

Here are four workouts that don’t require equipment.


Burpees are often a dreaded word, however, they are effective and a great full-body workout. Whether you go full-out or the low-impact route, you’ll always get a great workout when doing a proper burpee.

Here’s how:

  • Start standing, feet hip-width apart.
  • Place both hands flat onto the ground before you and hop your feet behind you into a plank. Keep your hips and core tight, forming a straight line from shoulders to heels.
  • Once in the tabletop position, you can do a push-up for an extra burn or move to the next step.
  • Quickly hop your feet back up toward your hands.
  • Jump up to stand, bringing your arms above your head and exploding off your feet. Repeat.

For a low-impact version take out the jump and slightly stand on your tip toes.

Squat jabs

For a full body burn with a focus on the legs, the squat jab brings out our inner fighter while toning your legs and back.

Here’s how to do squat jabs:

  • Start by standing with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your arms down at your sides.
  • Squat down, keeping your chest up, butt back and knees out.
  • Stand up, and when your legs are extended, throw a cross-body punch with each arm.
  • Squat down again, stand up and punch, repeat.


Skaters require a bit of coordination and balance. This exercise will get your heart pumping while working every muscle from the abs, legs, arms, back and chest.

Here’s how to do skaters:

  • Start with both feet pointing forward.
  • Much like a reverse lunge, the skater requires one leg at a time to go back as if you were doing a curtsey for the King of England.
  • Pushing off the left leg, begin to stand, bringing the right leg forward and swinging your left leg back and across, switching arms as you go. Work quickly, but to maintain the low-impact approach, don’t jump.

For a low-impact version, omit the jump and do a slight lunge.

High knees

High knees are like running in place but with a little more pizzaz.

Here’s how to properly do high knees:

  • Start standing, feet together.
  • Drive one knee toward your chest, with the opposite arm driving forward (elbows bent 90 degrees).
  • Quickly place the foot back down and drive the other knee up and the opposite arm forward.

For a low-impact version, keep your arms pointing forward, and allow your knees to meet the palm of your hands. Keeping your back straight and abs tucked in.

While all of the exercises are great for increasing heart rates, they also tone the entire body when done properly. If you can’t do the high-impact version, it’s OK to take your time with the low-impact option.

“Not only does low-impact exercise come with the benefits of improved strength, lower blood pressure and reduced stress, but such a workout also cuts down on the risk of musculoskeletal injury,” Nations Health said.