Boost Your Cardio Endurance — Without Running — With This 4-Move Circuit


While cycling and swimming are all popular examples of low-impact exercises that'll help you boost your cardio endurance, they're definitely not the only options — a bonus if you don't have access to a bike or a pool.

According to Joel Okaah, CSCS, a certified personal trainer for D1 Training, "any exercises that get your heart rate up and keep it up will help you better your cardio endurance."

As a reminder, Okaah explained that cardio endurance can be measured by one's ability to perform exercises for a specific amount of time without labored breathing or feeling tired.

Another way to test it at home is tracking the pace of your running mile, Okaah said. "As you shrink your pace per mile, your cardio endurance is increasing."

Having high cardio endurance can also be a sign that you have good cardiovascular health — "you achieve this through eating moderately healthy and exercising 3-5 times a week," Okaah said. (But don't use that as an excuse to skip any doctor's appointments, for the record!) With low-impact bodyweight moves, you can work on boosting your cardio endurance without any equipment and in the comfort of your own living room, thanks to this circuit created by Okaah.

"The goal of this circuit is to move through each exercise with speed and efficiency," Okaah said. "I like to do these types of circuits in a set amount of time so you have a goal to aim for. Make sure every single rep is performed with perfect form to avoid injury and ensure that the right muscle groups are getting targeted properly."

Before getting started, prep your body with a warmup — Okaah suggested jumping jacks because "they activate every corner of the body," but you can also try arm circles and glute squeezes.

Okaah said if you can avoid resting between each of these exercises, you'll get a more challenging workout — however, it's very important to listen to your body and rest as you need. Okaah suggested drinking lots of water, too! The sweat will be real.

Work through five sets of the four-move circuit, below, resting as needed. And finally, be sure to finish your workout off with a proper cooldown.

Reverse Lunge and Kick

Reverse Lunge and Kick

  • Step back with your left foot coming into a deep lunge bending both knees to 90 degrees.
  • Press the right heel into the ground as you push off with your left foot, kicking your left leg to touch your left toes to your right hand.
  • With control, return to the lunge position. This completes one rep.
  • Do 10 reps on each leg.
Lateral Arm Raise
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Lateral Arm Raise

Since this circuit is focused on bodyweight, you don't need dumbbells for this exercise. For added difficulty, Okaah suggests holding soup cans.

  • Stand with your feet hip distance apart.
  • Start with the right side first. With control, keep your arm straight (but don't lock that elbow) and as you inhale, raise your right hand up toward the ceiling. You want your palm to be facing down and your arm to be parallel to the floor. Then as you exhale, slowly lower your hand back to your body. You should be able to see your hand in your peripheral vision. Your arm won't be directly out to the side but slightly forward.
  • Do the same move with your left arm.
  • Complete 10 reps for each arm.
Bodyweight Squat
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Bodyweight Squat

  • Stand up straight with your head facing forward. Pick a spot at eye level to focus on.
  • Place your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Push your chest up and outward and hold your hands straight out in front of you, palms facing down.
  • Begin the exercise by lowering your glutes down like you're going to sit on a chair or bench.
  • Continue down until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Your weight should be in your heels.
  • Finish the move by pushing up through your heels and rising back to the standing, or starting, position.
  • Complete 10 reps.
Half Burpees
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Half Burpees

  • Start at a standing position.
  • Bend your knees, plant your hands slightly in front of your feet and hop or step your feet back to a high plank.
  • Jump or step your feet back to the starting position, completing one repetition.
  • Repeat five reps

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