Whether you need a burst of energy in the morning, to clear your head midday, or a stress-reliever in the evening, this 15-minute cardio workout serves as a fun, quick reset.
Cardio workouts are most commonly attributed to steady-state cardio like cycling, running on the treadmill, or using a stair climber. But circuit-style workouts like this beginner-friendly program, designed by Alicia Jamison, C.P.T., trainer at Bodyspace Fitness in New York City, can also be classified as cardio—even if the exercises don’t look like typical explosive “cardio” moves.
“This is a great beginner cardio workout because it encourages you to perform the exercises at a relatively fast pace,” Jamison tells SELF. “Playing with a faster tempo will make it more challenging and cardio-focused.” Read: It’ll get your heart pumping.
But she also advises that, for beginners especially, focusing on form is more important than amping up your speed. (That’s why she added modifications to make the trickier moves a little more accessible.)
“You can always increase intensity on the next set,” she says. “People will often get excited for a workout and then burn out within the first set because they didn’t pace themselves.” It’s important to practice listening to your body before, during, and after your workout; that will help you know when you should take a rest and when you could go a little harder.
This circuit workout works both cardiovascular and muscular endurance, which means it not only targets your heart to get you sweaty and out of breath, but it also helps to strengthen the muscles that make everyday movements like walking, bending over, lifting, and twisting a little easier.
“By alternating between lower and upper body moves, that gives ample amount of recovery time,” says Jamison. At the end of each circuit, she added core exercises to serve as an active rest for your upper and lower body. “Your body is still engaged, but it allows your heart rate to fall a bit so that you can come back to the next exercise with more intensity.”
The moves in this workout target your whole body, from your pectoral muscles and upper back, to your core, to your quads, glutes, and hamstrings. To avoid any strain or injury, it’s always a good idea to start with a quick warm-up. Jamison loves doing a few jumping jacks and bodyweight squats, plus her favorite stretch (low lunges with a torso rotation) before getting into a workout.
Pumped up for this feel-good 15-minute cardio workout? Here’s what you’ll need.
What you’ll need: An exercise mat for extra cushioning.
- Sumo squat
- Plank with shoulder tap
- Marching glute bridge
- Elevated push-up
- In Circuit 1, perform 10-15 reps of the sumo squat and Superman, and 6-8 reps per side of the plank with shoulder tap. Complete 2-3 times total. Rest 1-2 minutes after your final time.
- In Circuit 2, perform 10-12 reps of the marching glute bridge and elevated push-up, and 6-8 reps per side of the deadbug. Complete 2-3 times total.
- Try not to rest between exercises in the circuits, but take breaks if you need to or your form starts to falter.
Demoing the moves below are Teresa Hui (GIF 1), a native New Yorker who has run over 150 road races, including 16 full marathons; Amanda Wheeler (GIFs 2, 5), a certified strength and conditioning specialist and co-founder of Formation Strength; Crystal Williams (GIF 3), a group fitness instructor and trainer who teaches at residential and commercial gyms across New York City; Nikki Pebbles (GIF 5), a New York City–based fitness instructor and an AFAA- and NCCPT-certified personal trainer and group fitness trainer; and Rachel Denis (GIF 6), a powerlifter who competes with USA Powerlifting.