Are you ready to make 2017 your most fit year yet?! 💪

We are here to get you started with a list of the 20 best cardio exercises, because after-all, not all cardio exercises are created equal. 

A great cardio exercise will:

  • increase your heart rate and keep it elevated
  • crush calories
  • challenge your strength and stability
  • shred fat
  • keep your metabolism elevated even after your workout
  • work a variety of body parts, muscles and joints

Enjoy! :) 

#1 Sled March

The sled march is a member favorite here at Dynamic. These are incredibly tough but effective as they really challenge both your lower-body/core strength and cardio -- making the sled march number one on our list! Load these up HEAVY! 

Key points: 

  • Keep arms straight and straight line head to back foot
  • Keep body leaning at 45 degree angle 
  • March forward one step at a time keeping head and upper body still
  • Start with 3-5 rounds of 15-25yd march 

#2 Burpee

The burpee might be the most popular and hated cardio exercise of all. These are a fantastic exercise for improving fitness that can be done just about anywhere and work the entire body. 

Learn how to complete the perfect burpee below.

The Perfect Burpee

Learn how to perform one of the most popular cardio exercises!...

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Key Points:

  • Start with hands on bench or chair if new to burpees
  • Start by bending knees, leaning forward and bringing hands to floor
  • Keeping weight in hands, kick feet back to plank position
  • Add push-up if possible
  • Do not let hips sag when kick legs out
  • Bring feet back in, stand up, jump and reach
  • Start with :15 of work followed by :45 of rest for 6-10 rounds

#3 KB Swings

We use the kettlebell (KB) swing with the majority of our members because they are so versatile. They are great for improving cardio,  lower-body strength, power and overall coordination. Because the movement is done at such a high velocity they are an advanced movement. Be sure to check our common kettlebell mistake video for more tips. For more on proper KB swing technique, click on the video below.

DSC Technique Tuesday: KB Swing

3 QUICK FIXES FOR KB SWINGS...

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 Key Points:

  • Master the Kettlebell Deadlift or RDL first (shown in video)
  • Make sure all the work is done through your hips
  • Keep posture strong and tall throughout 
  • At the top position, finish tall with glutes squeezed and legs straight
  • Start with 8-10 swings followed by :30-:45 of rest for 6-10 rounds

#4 Mountain Climbers

Mountain climbers are another great exercise that can be done just about anywhere. They are great for challenging your cardio as well as your core and shoulder stability. If you are new to mountain climber, start with your hands on an elevated bench or chair rather than the floor.  

Key Points:

  • Maintain a stable upper-body plank position throughout
  • Keep hands placed directly under shoulders
  • Quickly bring one knee forward at a time, while keeping the back leg straight
  • Start with :15 of work followed by :45 of rest for 6-10 rounds

#5 Wideout Push-Ups

The wideout push-up might be one of the most challenging push-up variations around so be sure to master the push-up first. These are a great way to jack your heart rate up while building some serious upper-body and core strength. 

Key Points:

  • Start in push-up position with hands under shoulders
  • Keep hips tucked, abs braced and glutes squeezed
  • In one motion, split feet wide as you drop into bottom of push-up position
  • Reverse the motion by quickly bringing feet together and pressing back up to top position 
  • Start with :15 of work followed by :45 of rest for 6-10 rounds

#6 KB or DB Thrusters

When it comes to cardio, total body exercises are the name of the game. This is why we love the thruster. It works every part of your body, burning some serious calories and building some serious strength. These are tough!

Key points:

  • Start feet shoulder width, toes slightly pointed out
  • Have two KBs in racked position or DB held above shoulders
  • Staying tall, lower into squat position
  • Keep abs braced and weight in heels
  • Drive out of squat as your press weights overhead
  • Finish arms inline with ears
  • Lower weights to shoulders and repeat
  • Start with :15 of work followed by :45 of rest for 6-10 rounds

#7 Treadmill Power Sprints

If you are someone who gets bored easily on the treadmill, you will LOVE these. Sprinting is arguably the best form of exercise for shredding fat. Their high-intensity nature get your heart rate very high and keep you burning calories long after your workout is done! They also don't break down muscle like long distance running does. Win-win! :)

Key points:

  • Set treadmill incline to 2% grade
  • Put speed to 7-10 mph
  • Start straddling treadmill with hands on sides
  • Keeping hands on treadmill, get into sprint
  • Take hands off when comfortable
  • Work on staying tall and driving knees up
  • Put hands on side and go back to straddle position when done
  • Start with :15 sprint followed by :45 rest for 6-10 rounds

#8 Battling Ropes

The battling ropes is a fan favorite at Dynamic. They are great for getting your heart rate up, crushing fat and challenging your upper-body, grip strength and core. Talk about a win-win!

Key Points:

  • Stay in a low, athletic position throughout
  • Using just your arms, make quick and even waves with the ropes
  • Keep the ropes moving together or alternate arms
  • Start with :15 of work :45 of rest for 6-10 rounds

#9 KB or DB Goblet Speed Squats

The high-rep goblet speed squat is a fantastic exercise to improve your cardio as well as build lower-body strength and mobility. By holding the weight out front, your core are forced to work double time to hold your posture and stabilize your trunk making these great for your abs as well! For more on proper goblet squat technique, click on the video below.

Technique Tuesday: Goblet Squat

The Goblet Squat is the ultimate lower body exercise. Find out why and how to start incorp...

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 Key Points: 

  • Start feet shoulder width with toes slightly pointed out
  • Stay tall with stomach braced throughout
  • Initiate movement by breaking at the knees, sitting back and pushing knees out
  • Go as low as you can with no pain and good neutral spine position
  • Finish tall with glutes squeezed, repeat as fast as possible
  • Start with :20 of as many squats as possible followed by :40 of rest -- complete for 6-10 rounds

#10 Slideboard

The slideboard is the most underutilized piece of cardio equipment, mainly because not many facilities have them. We absolutely LOVE them as they get people moving outside of the sagittal plane (front to back) and get them working in the frontal plane (side to side). This is huge for athletes who need to plant, cut and change direction during their sport. For the general population this is great for working side to side, improving hip and adductor strength. Plus, they are fun!

Key points:

  • Start in low, athletic position with feet together 
  • Start by pushing off the board with outside leg
  • As you glide across board, keep the pushing leg extended
  • Sit into opposite hip similarly to a lateral lunge position
  • Once other foot contacts board, bring feet together and push out
  • Start with :20 of work followed by :40 of rest for 6-10 rounds

#11 Split Jumps

Warning! These will get you sore. Split jumps are one of our more advanced cardio exercises as they require a great deal of coordination, mobility and lower-body strength. If you have any knee issues, keep the motion small. 

Key points:

  • Start in low lunge position with weight in front foot and hands by your sides
  • Maintain great upright posture throughout
  • In one motion, throw hands up and jump up, switching feet in the air
  • Land softly in low lunge postion on other side
  • Start with :15 of work followed by :45 of rest for 6-10 rounds

#12 Med Ball Slams

We use medicine ball exercises with all of our members from our Youth Athletic Development program to our Women’s Group Training. We love them for a variety of reasons but mainly because they are very joint-friendly and great for getting your heart-rate up and improving power. One of the most fun and effective medicine ball exercises is the medicine ball slam. 

Key Points:

  • Get as tall as possible and reach ball high overhead without leaning back
  • Slam ball right in front of feet 
  • Finish slam in low squat position
  • Catch and repeat as fast as possible
  • Start with :15 of work followed by :45 of rest for 6-10 rounds.

#13 High Knee Run

The high knee run is one of our favorite athletic cardio exercises as is mimics the arm and leg action of real sprinting. It is also a great way to teach the proper posture of jogging or sprinting. Get ready to sweat!

Key points:

  • Start tall with one knee up at 90 degrees and opposite arm out
  • Keeping posture, quickly switch knees and hands as fast as possible
  • Keep knees up, toes up throughout
  • Start with :15 of work followed by :45 of rest for 6-10 rounds

#14 Wideouts

These are a serious leg burn! The low position keeps your legs constantly working and under tension, making these a great high-tempo cardio drill as well as great for building strength. 

Key points:

  • Start in low, athletic position with knees bent
  • Start with feet together and chest tall
  • Staying low, split feet wide, just outside shoulder width
  • Quickly return to starting position, repeat as fast as possible
  • Start with :20 of work followed by :40 of rest for 6-10 rounds

#15 Plate or Step Fast Feet

Plate fast feet are a great fast paced, joint-friendly cardio exercise. The high-tempo gets your heart rate through the roof.

Key points:

  • Start tall with one foot on the plate or aerobic step, other on floor behind and opposite arm out
  • Quickly switch feet, keeping posture tall
  • Repeat as fast as possible 
  • Start with :20 of work followed by :40 of rest for 6-10 rounds

#16 Body Weight Jumps

Body-weight jumps are one of the best ways to improve lower-body power and strength and really challenge your cardio. Your legs will be burning!

Key points:

  • Start feet hip width with hips back, hands back
  • Keep good posture throughout
  • Initiate jump by throwing arms up as you jump
  • Quickly sit hands and hips back as you land in starting position
  • Start with :15 of work followed by :45 of rest for 6-10 round

#17 Hand Switches

Hand switches might be one of the toughest core and upper-body cardio exercises around. The moving plank position really works your abs and shoulders all the while trying to control your breathing and heart-rate. You will love these!

Key points:

  • Start in plank position with hands on plate or aerobic step
  • Keep hips tucked and glutes squeezed throughout
  • Without letting hips rotate or sag, walk left and right hand to the left 
  • Walk hands back onto plate and now move to the right
  • Repeat as quick as possible with no torso movement
  • Start with :20 of work followed by :40 of rest for 6-10 rounds

#18 Wall Ball

Think of wall ball as the reverse med ball slam. These are a bit tougher as you are forced to use your lower body and arms to get the ball as high as possible. 

Key points:

  • Start feet shoulder width, medicine ball at chest
  • Drop into squat, keeping chest tall
  • Use your legs to drive up out of squat
  • In one motion, throw ball as high as possible
  • Ball should touch wall 
  • Catch and repeat as fast as possible 
  • Start with :20 of work followed by :40 of rest for 6-10 rounds

#19 Farmer Carry

The farmer carry is a favorite amongst our members. Think of these as a weighted and moving plank. Walking with weights is a great way to improve the strength of your grip, shoulders, core and hips. Carries challenge you to control your spine and aid in improving core stability and improve cardio by elevating your heart and respiratory rate.

Key Points:

  • Start with 2 heavy kettlebells or dumbells in hands
  • Squeeze weights hard and stay tall
  • Keep shoulders back and abs braced
  • Do not allow weights to move around
  • Start with 3-4 sets of 40-50 yd walks followed by :30-:45 rest

#20 Squat to Diagonal Press

The squat to diagonal press is another fantastic total-body cardio drill that taxes the legs, core and shoulders. We really like that they provide a rotational component that most cardio drills do not. 

Key points:

  • Start feet shoulder width, hands on each side of plate
  • Keeping plate at chest height, drop into squat
  • Drive out of squat and rotate and press plate overhead to the right
  • Allow opposite foot to rotate 
  • Return to starting position
  • Squat and press and rotate to the left side 
  • Repeat as fast as possible
  • Start with :20 of work followed by :40 of rest for 6-10 round



Our philosophy at Dynamic Strength and Conditioning is that every individual—regardless of fitness level, age, gender, or goals—receives the best results from a comprehensive strength and conditioning program in a safe training environment coached by educated, experienced professionals. 

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