By Naomi Rabon, NW Fitness Team Trainer

No commercial gym = no access to cardio equipment for many of us. Cardio equipment can include your basic treadmill, stationary bike, elliptical, arc trainer, rower machine, stair stepper/step mill/stair master, Jacobs Ladder, etc. A question I’ve seen pop up repeatedly in several different places over the past few weeks since both commercial and small “mom and pop” gyms have closed their doors world-wide is …

“How do I get my cardio in without any cardio equipment?”

But just because you may not be able to hop on one of these machines doesn’t mean you’re “off the hook” from doing cardio.

Cardiovascular exercise is in my opinion, one of the easiest things you can do without a gym or access to cardio equipment. All you need is a timer, your body and a little creativity. Heck, you don’t even need a timer, really.


Cardio is any type of exercise that raises your heart rate zone from your average resting heart rate when not exercising. And contrary to popular belief, don’t need to be able to run, jump or be overly coordinated. All you have to do is MOVE your body enough to get your heart rate elevated for an extended period of time and – BOOM – you’re doing a cardio workout. Some of the most common forms or cardio are: walking, jogging/running, cycling, swimming, rowing, fast paced resistance training or circuit training, and boxing.


Cardio helps keep your cardiorespiratory system healthy and fit, which includes your heart, lungs and blood circulation. Other benefits of cardio or aerobic exercise include:
• Helps burn calories, contributing to fat loss.
• Strengthens your heart muscle so that it doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood.
• Increases lung capacity.
• Helps reduce your risk of heart attack, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and some forms of cancer.
• Contributes to better quality sleep.
• Can reduce stress and anxiety.

So what kind of cardio can you do with just your body and a timer? You can download any interval timer app on your smartphone, by the way. All you have to do is follow this formula:

1. Choose how long you want your cardio workout to be. For example, let’s choose 20 minutes for your total workout time.

2. Choose your work time (time you are doing an exercise or “working interval”) and rest time (time you are resting between exercises or “resting interval”). Let’s use 40 seconds of work and 20 seconds of rest for our intervals.

3. Set your timer to 40 seconds of work and 20 seconds of rest for 20 interval cycles to equal 20 minutes.

4. Now comes the “fun” part where you can create ANY combination of exercises you want!

Here are some examples with 40 seconds of work and 20 seconds of rest for each exercise. You can do 10 rounds of:

Superset 1
High Knees
Jumping Jacks

Superset 2
Mountain Climbers

Or you could do all of the above for 5 rounds:

Giant Set
High Knees
Jumping Jacks
Mountain Climbers

You could also speed walk and then do a set of five different bodyweight cardio exercises at any time interval you want. Here’s an example with a 5 minute speed walk and 30 seconds of work/30 seconds of rest for each exercise.

Speed Walk
March In Place
Slow Mountain Climbers
Stationary Lunge (right leg)
Stationary Lunge (left leg)

All the above equals 10 minutes total, so if you do 2 rounds it would equal 20 minutes and 3 rounds would equal 30 minutes.

Other ideas for good cardio workouts with minimal at-home equipment include: kettlebell swings, battle rope exercises, medicine ball/wall ball slams, punching bag, even playing basketball in your driveway. If you are able to and enjoy running, hill sprints and track workouts (bleacher runs, jog laps, sprints, etc., if you have access to a high school or public track). These are all incredible ways to get a great, intense, effective cardio workout.

And if you don’t have a timer, or prefer not to use a timer, you could count reps instead of timer intervals, though timer intervals are typically more conducive to a cardio workout.

The truth is, you don’t need any cardio equipment at all to get a really good cardio workout! I hope this gave you some ideas on how to get creative with your cardio and put together some fun, interesting workouts you can do anywhere, anytime and any way you’d like! Now go get your heart rate up!

Tip Me Tuesday: Regain Control
Tip Me Tuesday: Making It Work
Tip Me Tuesday: Keep Moving
Tip Me Tuesday: True Grit
Tip Me Tuesday: Cardio Overload

Naomi-lighterBIOOne of the trainers on Nicole’s elite NW Fitness Training Team, Naomi is a certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She is a NPC Figure competitor who has been involved in the health and fitness industry for over 12 years.

Go here to find out more about training with the NW Fitness Training Team!