Cardio may make you think of activities like running, cycling, and swimming but there are plenty of floor exercises in this category too.
These are not always as effective for things like health and weight loss as the more popular cardiovascular workouts but they can still help you get fit at home and at a height where falling down becomes less painful.
1. Mountain climbers
Take the following steps to do mountain climbers:
- Sit on your hands and knees with your shoulders above your hands.
- Walk back with your feet until your body is in a straight line from your heels to the top of your head.
- Lift one foot off the ground and move the knee of that side forward as far as comfortable. Keep your spine more or less straight throughout the rest of the exercise.
- Move the foot back toward its position in step 2. Before it lands, you want to do the same movement with your other foot.
- Keep alternating between what foot is in the air.
For somewhat fit individuals, mountain climbers are generally a floor cardio movement that also works the core muscles and hip flexor muscles to nice extents.
If it has been a while since you worked out, you may also find that mountain climbers fatigue your core muscles before you get out of breath.
2. Air cycling
To do the next floor exercise you preferably have something like a yoga mat or another soft surface to lie down on. Once you have this, take the following steps to air cycle:
- Lie down on your back on the soft surface. Keep your arms by your sides on the ground for balance.
- Raise your legs off the ground.
- Move one knee towards your chest.
- Move the leg back forward while you move the other leg back.
- Alternate between the positions in steps 3 and 4 in a way where you make circles with your feet.
Similar to mountain climbers, air cycling works your core muscles to some extent.
If you don’t like this core engagement you can stretch your legs less. The closer you keep them above the rest of your body, the easier the movement becomes for the core muscles.
Besides that, air cycling works your hip flexors to a decent extent too.
3. Half burpees
Take the following steps to do a half burpee:
- Get in a high plank position (on your hands and feet with your body in a straight line and shoulders above your hands).
- Jump forward with your feet.
- Jump backward with your feet. Make sure you brace yourself for the impact with your core muscles. You generally don’t want your hips to go lower than a straight line with your upper body and legs.
- Alternate between steps 2 and 3.
Half burpees are somewhat similar to mountain climbers but instead of doing “high knees” in a plank position, you jump forward and backward with both of your feet at the same time.
This makes the movement a bit more challenging for your core muscles.
When it comes to training your cardiovascular system, both floor exercises can be effective.
4. Plank jacks
Take the following steps to do a plank jack:
- Get in a high plank position.
- Jump outward as far as comfortable with both of your legs. Brace yourself for the impact with your core muscles. Most people want to avoid going lower with their hips than a straight line.
- Jump inward with your feet so that you get back into the high plank position.
This exercise is a bit more awkward to do at high speeds than some of the other options on this list. This makes plank jacks less optimal for training cardiovascular health.
At the same time, plank jacks will definitely still get your heart beating faster.
Additionally, you will work your outer thighs, inner thighs, and core muscles a nice amount. This likely won’t lead to much, if any, muscle growth but can still improve muscle endurance.
5. Flutter kicks
Flutter kicks are another movement where you would benefit from having a soft surface to lie on. Take the following steps to do the exercise:
- Lie down on your back. Keep your arms on the ground by your sides for balance.
- Raise your legs. If you have a strong core, they can stay relatively close to the ground. If not, raise them as far as needed.
- Move one leg slightly more up.
- Move the leg back down and move the other leg up at the same time.
- Keep fluttering (moving your legs up and down) with your feet.
As you will notice, flutter kicks work your core muscles a nice amount. To keep this more of a floor exercise for training cardiovascular health, you can raise your legs higher.
Even with your legs higher, flutter kicks will also work your hip flexors a good amount.
6. Swimmer exercise
Take the following steps to do the swimmer exercise:
- Lie down on your stomach with your arms stretched forward and legs stretched back. A soft surface is preferred.
- Slightly raise your arms and your legs off the ground.
- Flutter with your arms and legs (move them up and down alternately) for an extended period of time.
People who have any back issues likely want to pass on the swimmer exercise since it could feel too uncomfortable.
Another thing to note is that this floor exercise is a bit more awkward to do at high speeds. Other options may get you more cardio results faster.
That being said, if your body can deal with it, the swimmer exercise can help your heart beat a little faster while engaging your shoulder, erector spinae, and glute muscles.
Take the following steps to do a frogger:
- Get in a high plank position.
- Jump forward and outward with your feet. They should land next to your hands on the outsides.
- Jump back into starting position. Make sure you brace yourself for the impact with your core muscles. Most people want to avoid lowering their hips more than a straight line with their upper body and legs.
As you may have noticed, froggers are very similar to half burpees. The difference is that you jump with your feet next to your hands on the outside instead of the inside.
This leads to slightly more inner thigh muscle, outer thigh muscle, and hip mobility training during your cardio workout.
It does also make high speeds a bit more awkward so froggers may not be the best exercise choice for fast sprints.
8. Mule kicks
Take the following steps to do mule kicks:
- Get in a high plank position.
- Walk forward with your feet and raise your hips enough for the next step.
- Jump up with your feet and move your thighs up. Don’t go farther than your thighs being in one line with your body.
- Lower your legs in time to land.
- Repeat the jumps for a certain number of repetitions or an amount of time.
You can also do mule kicks with alternating legs similar to for example mountain climbers.
Additionally, you can start with small jumps and build up from there to get used to the two-legged exercise.
The mule kick exercise requires a bit more coordination than many of the other floor cardio exercises on this list. If you do this to a safe extent, this can also lead to more training in this fitness component.
On the other hand, mule kicks can also be somewhat more challenging to do at higher speeds. Luckily there are more than enough floor exercise alternatives for people who don’t like this.
9. Crab kicks
Take the following steps to do crab kicks:
- Sit on your butt on the floor with your hand palms flat on the ground behind you. Also put your feet flat on the ground.
- Step forward with your feet and/or raise your hips until you are in a “crab position”.
- Raise one knee in the air and stretch that leg somewhat.
- Lower this leg back to the ground and before landing, start the same movement from step 3 with the other leg.
- Keep alternating with what leg you kick up.
Besides your cardiovascular system, crab kicks mainly work your hip flexors, quadriceps, triceps, and glutes.
As you may be able to tell from the walkthrough, this floor exercise can be slightly awkward to do at high speeds.
On the flip side, this movement does add some variation to your workout routines, gets your heart beating, and can challenge your coordination.
10. Scissor kicks
Scissor kicks are another exercise example where you preferably want to use a yoga mat. Take the following steps to do the exercise:
- Lie down on your back.
- Raise your legs only slightly if you have a strong core. Core training beginners can raise their legs a lot.
- Move your legs towards the center as far as comfortable. Right before your feet hit each other you want to raise one and lower the other.
- Move your feet outward as far as comfortable.
- Repeat step 3 but change what foot goes above the other.
Scissor kicks are typically done as an ab exercise.
By picking up the pace and not being as strict with pushing your lower back against the ground and raising your legs more, this can also become a floor movement to train cardiovascular health.
At the same time, you will still engage your core muscles and hip flexors to nice extents. Your inner thigh muscles and outer thigh muscles will also have to work to move your legs inward and outward.