There’s basic cardio, and then there’s advanced, intense cardio.
You can’t get to those crazy HIIT cardio exercises that you always read about unless you start with the fundamentals, and work your way up from there.
We’re just going to show you a brief list of some of the best cardio workout plans, with a step-by-step way to put them into full force, and how to gradually increase the intensity as time goes on.
You’re about to test your endurance and your body all in one motion.
Are you ready?
If you’d like to see a graphical breakdown of the cardio workout plans, we got you covered:
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- Primary Cycling Cardio Workout Plan
- Running Like There’s No Tomorrow Workout Plan
- Row Row Row Your Cardio Workout Plan
- Run and Jump VIIT Workout Plan
- Make it Fit Your Lifestyle
Primary Cycling Cardio Workout Plan
Cycling is one of the best ways to develop a great cardio routine and stick with it.
In my experience, cycling is fun when you’re not just stuck on a stationary bike the entire time.
This plan is designed to give you something exciting to do, while still providing excellent cardio the entire time.
You can apply this to at least five days in your week without overdoing it.
- Jumping Jacks: Start with at least ten jumping jacks without stopping in the middle. This gets your heart pumping, and wakes up all those muscles in your arms and legs without risking injury via static stretching.
- Cycling: Hop on your bicycle, and start pedaling. You want to have a route that allows you to exert medium levels of intensity without worrying about what’s in your way. Try to avoid densely populated metropolitan areas where you would be expected to wait for traffic lights off and on. You want to do this for twenty straight minutes, circling back to your starting point.
- Running in Place: Keep that bicycle on its kickstand for a minute, and run in place for two straight minutes. You want to raise your knees as high as possible so you can work all that blood flow and adrenaline from your ride through your body. If you can go on longer, do so, but no more than four minutes.
- Jumping Jacks: Get back to those jumping jacks. You started this out with 10 of them, so now we’re going to push for 15.
- Break: Time to take a chill pill. Get some water, and stand by for two to three minutes while drinking and preparing yourself for another ride.
- Cycle: Go twenty minutes on your bicycle, but go in the opposite direction that you just can from so you can have some fresh scenery. This workout can best be described as having two separate acts, or halves.
Running Like There’s No Tomorrow Workout Plan
If the title didn’t give it away, this one is focused around running, both indoors and out.
Truth is, you can’t predict when it’s going to rain for three straight days or not, so this is going to give you the option of taking it inside when you need to, or when it’s just too hot out to circle the block.
Running can be more strenuous on your heart and body, so take this one in moderation with three to four times per week max.
- Leg Raises: Static stretching isn’t what you should be doing anymore, so now it’s time to do some leg raises to stretch out your calf muscles and thighs. You’re going to be doing a lot of running, so do this for one minutes to get that blood flowing.
- Jumping Jacks: This gets the whole body going, so your arms will be used to swinging by the time you start running. 10 jumping jacks will do it, which should take about 30 seconds in total.
- First Run: It’s time to run straight ahead for ten minutes in total. You can put a timer on your FitBit, or on your smart watch, or whatever you have to do, but try to time this so we’re practicing VIIT the entire time.
- First Break: You’ve done about 13 minutes of low intensity cardio. Take a break, drink some water, and get ready to go in two minutes.
- Second Run: Run straight for ten minutes. Don’t worry; you’re going to turn around to the starting point again soon.
- Second Break: More water, another two minute rest. You’ve now been at this for just shy of a half-hour. One more intense run to go.
- Third Run: This is the last stretch. You broke up the first half of this into two separate gaps of time, so now you’re going to return to your starting position in one. Go straight back from where you came, and don’t stop until you get there.
Row Row Row Your Cardio Workout Plan
Centered around the dynamic way that rowing machines work out your body and attribute to your cardiovascular health, you’re going to use this for every exercise, and tack on other exercise methods to accompany it.
If you’re not currently in possession of a rowing machine, consider buying one, or getting a membership to your local gym, where you could use the other machines mentioned in this workout plan.
- Leg Raises: This isn’t the most cardio-efficient thing, but it’s going to help you out in a moment. Just consider this calisthenics-based exercise a warmup, and do these for two minutes.
- Low Level Intensity Rowing: Sit on your rowing machine bench, and start pulling back while keeping proper form the entire time. You’re going to do this for seven minutes, maintaining that form, and ensuring that there will be no injuries when we’re done here.
- First Break: You have one minute to relax and drink some water. Then get back to it.
- Medium Intensity Rowing: Pump things up for another seven minutes straight. You can apply more pressure here, and if you’re using an air rower, just be careful that you’re not applying too much pressure or else you’ll flip into high intensity.
- Second Break: Water, two minutes of rest, and now we’re back at it.
- Medium Intensity Rowing: Consider this your second set of intermediate rowing. Seven more minutes, and then stop.
- Treadmill: Get on the treadmill for a good cooldown. You’re going to run for about five minutes, and all of this workout will equal roughly thirty minutes.
Run and Jump VIIT Workout Plan
Variable intensity interval training allows you to keep the spotlight on cardio, while still working out other parts of your body.
It’s the cardio equivalent to HIIT for strength and resistance training. This method is going to use a myriad of different dynamic movements that boost your cardio.
I would say that you should keep this to about three or four times per week, but listen to your body and see where your needs lie.
- Jumping Jacks: These are a common starter, but they get the blood flowing. Your heart’s going to pump after one minute of doing these jumping jacks.
- Leg Raises: Stand in place, and raise those knees up, alternating at a comfortable speed. You want to get that blood flowing, but remember to pace yourself here or you’ll be too exhausted by the end of it. Two minutes of this.
- Treadmill: Three minutes on a relatively intermediate treadmill setting (4-7 MPH, usually) will give you plenty to work out. Don’t worry; you get a break soon.
- First Break: Take a one minute break and drink some water. Take this time to gauge how these last six minutes have made you feel. You’re in the throes of VIIT.
- Repeated sets: This is where I let you take the wheel. This is a super simple plan that can really burn calories and shred fat, but it all depends on how much you can do. You don’t want to overdo it with cardio, so do one set (7 minutes including break), and see how many more you can do after it. You’re going to be surprised at how far you can go, just make sure this never exceeds more than one solid hour.
Make it Fit Your Lifestyle
Cardio workout plans should definitely be diverse, but they shouldn’t take all the wind out of you.
Be sure that whatever plan you’re willing to adopt can fit into your current lifestyle and capabilities.
Pushing yourself past the limits is a quick way to quit before you start seeing the real progress take shape.
You can either get a membership at your local gym to start putting some of these plans into motion, or you can consider investing in a home gym (which can save you money if you look at annual membership prices for anything that isn’t a chain gym).