A Cardio Core Workout That Will Definitely Get Your Heart Pumping

If your regular exercise routine has been feeling a little stale lately, this cardio core workout may be just what you need to shake it up: You only need a mat to get it done, so you can take this workout anywhere to move your body in a much-appreciated change of scenery.

One location suggestion? Take it outside, personal trainer Rhys Athayde, founder of Phantom Fitness, tells SELF. Choosing an outdoor location—say, like an out-of-the-way park or other neighborhood spot you haven’t frequented recently—can help you better appreciate your community and reinvigorate your exercise routine, breaking up the monotony and making it a little more fun.

In fact, the workout Athayde developed for SELF is based on one he created for Festival of New York, an initiative designed to reinvigorate post-pandemic New York City. The summertime fitness program includes free 30-minute outdoor fitness classes, goodie bags, and more. Sign up here.

Bodyweight workouts are a great way to get this done, since you’re not constrained by location or equipment—you can simply take your workout to wherever you want to be.

“Not only are bodyweight workouts an accessible way to get your workouts in, but you’re also improving your cardio, your mobility, and your flexibility,” says Athayde, who previously worked with SELF on our Fall Fitness Challenge. “There are so many benefits to doing bodyweight workouts, and it doesn’t have to be boring.”

In the workout Athayde created below, you’ll hit on all those benefits. The routine consists of three separate circuits, with a different emphasis each: lower-body strength, cardio, and core. The circuit is designed using high-intensity interval training (HIIT), meaning you’ll be doing a whole lot of work with not much rest. This helps bring a cardio challenge to all of the circuits, even those that aren’t made up of traditional “cardio exercises.”

The result? A cardio core workout that brings an extra oomph to your lower body, particularly to your quads and your glutes.

Because this routine uses HIIT programming, it’s super important that you don’t go into the workout cold: Warming up your muscles is crucial to prevent injury, boost performance, and simply help you feel your best. Athayde recommends yoga-based moves like the cat-cow to help your body ease into movement, or you can try this five-move warm-up for a complete pre-workout routine.

Ready for a HIIT cardio workout that’ll leave you breathless? Grab a mat, get outside, and get ready! (And if it’s scorching in your outdoor location, check out these tips on how to exercise in the hot weather safely.)

The Workout

What you need: Just your bodyweight and a yoga mat for comfort.

Exercises

Circuit 1

  • Reverse lunge to knee drive (right side)
  • Reverse lunge to knee drive (left side)
  • Squat
  • Walkout to shoulder tap

Circuit 2

  • Jumping jack
  • Squat jump
  • Squat hold
  • High knees
  • Burpee

Circuit 3

  • Forearm plank
  • Single-leg jackknife (right side)
  • Single-leg jackknife (left side)
  • Bicycle crunch
  • Mountain climber

Directions

  • For Circuit 1, complete each exercise for 30 seconds, going into the next move without any rest. (Of course, if you feel your form begin to falter, take time to recover and get back to proper form.) After all exercises are completed, rest for 30 to 60 seconds. Complete 2 rounds total.
  • For Circuit 2, complete each exercise for 30 seconds, going into the next move without any rest. After all exercises are completed, rest for 30 to 60 seconds. Complete 3 rounds total.
  • For Circuit 3, complete each exercise for 30 seconds, going into the next move without any rest. After all moves are completed, rest for 30 to 60 seconds. Complete 2 rounds total.