Pump It Up With Calorie-Burning Cardio

How to get your heart pumping –- no treadmill required.

Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on October 15, 2015
From the WebMD Archives

Want to drop a few pounds in the New Year? To turn your resolution into an accomplishment, rethink your approach to cardio, says Ashley Borden, a Los Angeles-based personal trainer whose celebrity clients include Christina Aguilera, Mandy Moore, and Ryan Gosling.

"The idea that a cardio workout has to include the treadmill is very outdated," she says.

These moves can fire up your muscles and get your heart pumping to burn calories. Aim to do five rounds of the circuit (working through one set of the moves in order is one circuit) at least three times per week.

Single-Leg Plyometric Jumps

Borden likes this move because it works the glutes, quads, and calves while engaging the core and improving balance. If you feel off-balance, hold on to a chair for support.

1. Stand with feet hip-width apart.

2. Bring your left leg back and bend your left knee toward the floor (getting it as close to the floor as possible). Your right knee will bend, too.

3. With your weight on your right heel, push off the ground, straightening your right leg and driving your left knee up toward your belly button.

4. Return to the starting position.

5. Repeat five times.

6. Repeat five times on the opposite leg.

Modified Burpees

This popular move combines cardio and strength training, working the arms, chest, core, and legs. Beginners can modify the move to walk -- not jump -- the legs back and forth. For a more advanced burpee, trade the plank position for a push-up.

1. Start with feet a little wider than hip-width apart.

2. Bend your knees, lower into a squat, and place both hands on the floor, shoulder-width apart.

3. Keeping your core engaged and your weight on your arms, jump both feet back and lower into a plank position.

4. Jump your feet back to the start position.

5. Pushing through your legs, jump up as you raise both hands above your head and clap.

6. Repeat five times.

Squat Jump Touch

Do these steps as one fluid movement, and you'll work the muscles in your inner thighs, quads, hamstrings, glutes, and core. "It's a simple, explosive move that gets great results," Borden says.

1. Stand with feet together.

2. Jump with feet apart hip-width and, keeping your chest raised, lower into a squat. Make sure your knees don't extend past your toes.

3. Keep your arms straight and touch your fingertips to the floor.

4. Push through your feet and, squeezing your glutes, jump up to the start position, raising your arms over your head.

5. Repeat five times.