This 20-Minute Workout Feels So Good, You'll Almost Forget You're Burning Calories
If you've always thought of cardio as the more punishing part of your workout routine, it's time to change your mindset. Compared to strength training, "cardio shouldn't be as much of a demand on your muscles," explained Le Sweat founder Charlee Atkins, CSCS, who created this workout as part of POPSUGAR's 4-Week Workout Challenge.
In fact, when you do lower-intensity exercises — even at a higher number of reps — cardio can feel like recovery. "Your body should feel grateful for a cardio day to give you that flush of the system to get you ready for the next strength workout," Atkins said. For this circuit, make sure to focus on your form. Not only will it help you more effectively burn calories, but it will also help prevent injury or muscle strain, which could disrupt your routine and derail your progress.
20-Minute, No-Equipment Cardio Workout
Directions: Complete each exercise for 40 seconds, followed by a 10-second recovery. You'll do three rounds total with a one-minute rest in between rounds. This seven-minute warmup will help you maximize your effort on each exercise. When you're finished, take some time to do some foam-rolling stretches to keep your muscles conditioned and help you recover faster.
- Knee drivers
- Jumping jacks
- Reverse lunge to skip
- Butt kicks
- Lateral bounds
- Bend your left knee and extend your right leg behind you, placing little to no weight in the right toes. Raise both hands straight above your head.
- Drive your right knee up toward your chest, bringing your hands down to meet it.
- Reextend the right leg behind you as you lift your arms back up.
- Continue for 20 seconds on this leg, then switch sides for the remaining 20 seconds.
- Start with your legs hips-width apart and your hands down by your sides, palms facing in.
- Using only the balls of your feet, jump your legs out as you bring your hands overhead, then jump back to standing. Keep your core engaged throughout.
- Continue jumping out and in as quickly as possible for 40 seconds.
Reverse Lunge to Skip
- Stand with your feet together and your arms out in front of your chest for stability. Take a large step back with your right foot.
- Lower your hips until your left thigh (front leg) is parallel to the floor, with your left knee positioned directly over your ankle. Your right knee should be at a 90-degree angle, pointing toward the floor with the heel lifted.
- Swing your right leg forward up toward your chest, pushing off the ground with your left foot into a skip. As your knee pops up, your right hand should swing back and your left hand forward.
- Land softly back in a lunge, and repeat with the same leg for the full 40 seconds.
- Once the 40 seconds is up, rest and complete the move with the left leg.
- Stand on the balls of your feet, hips-width apart.
- Place your arms behind you, with the back of your hands flat against your butt.
- As you jog in place, bring (or "kick") your heels up to your butt rapidly, alternating legs.
- Continue this movement for 40 seconds.
- Start in a small squat on the left side of your mat. Jump sideways to the right side of the mat, bringing your left knee behind your right ankle, being careful not to let it touch the floor.
- Immediately jump back to the left side of the mat, bringing your right knee behind your left ankle. Swing your arms to the sides with each jump to build momentum and speed.
- Continue jumping back and forth for the full 40 seconds.