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11 Best Fat Burning Cardio Workouts for Small Spaces (No Equipment)

Due to my hectic schedule, it’s hard for me to go to the gym. So I do my workouts in the living room of my apartment. I’ll share 11 of my favorite cardio exercises I like doing in the morning to get my heart pumping and break a little sweat before I go to work.

These 11 cardio workouts for small spaces don’t require any equipment so they can be performed anywhere and anytime.

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Small Space Cardio Workouts

Cardiovascular exercises are any activities that are continuous and rhythmic, involve your body’s large muscle groups (especially the legs), and challenge your lungs and heart to work harder. Aerobic workouts help you sustain a challenging workout pace over time and help with longer efficient and fluid movements. The benefits of these cardio exercises include:

  • Improves cardiovascular fitness
  • Improves muscular strength and endurance
  • Increases your adherence to exercises
  • Helps burn a huge amount of calories
  • Helps increase your metabolic rate

So let’s get started!

Here are 11 cardio exercises for small spaces:

  1. Jumping Jacks
  2. Sumo Jump
  3. Imaginary Jump Rope
  4. Jog in Place
  5. High Knee Exercise
  6. Lateral Shuffle
  7. Split Lunge Jump
  8. Burpees
  9. Plank Jacks
  10. Mountain Climbers
  11. Plank to Frog Jump

1. Jumping Jacks

Jumping jacks are also called Star jumps and the side-straddle hop. With the right amount of energy, you can pull off the physical jumping exercise in small spaces. Star jumps reduce calories in the body, relieve stress, and are great for cardiovascular health.

Target muscles:
Jumping jacks work the core, hip abductors and adductors, shoulder abductors and adductors, and the calves. The primary target of this workout is the hamstrings and the chest. The exercise is useful for your regular warm-up routine.

Below are the steps of doing a jumping jack;

jumping jacks exercise steps
  • Stand with your knees bent and let your hands rest on your thighs.
  • Open the legs and the arms to the side, keeping the knees bent.
  • The arms come above the head while your legs go wider than the shoulders.
  • Go back to the starting position
  • To keep yourself engaged in a jumping jack, swap in a squat or a cross jack.

2. Sumo Jump

The Sumo jump is also the sumo squat jump. It is an easy full-body workout. You can also do it effectively in places with limited spaces. Some of the sumo jump benefits include; improving balance, weight loss, muscle gain, body strength, and toning.

Target muscles:
The Sumo jump builds muscles such as the hamstring muscles, quadriceps, and calves. The exercise also tones your whole body. Intense jump squats release testosterone and improve muscle mass.

Below is the best way to do a Sumo Jump;

Sumo Jump exercise steps
  • First, stand with your feet apart at shoulder width and turned out with your hands on your thighs.
  • Bend your knees then jump keeping your core engaged.
  • Land and lower your body into the initial squat position to complete one sumo jump
  • You can repeat the reps in ten sets

3. Imaginary Jump Rope

The imaginary jump rope exercise involves pretending to jump an actual rope. It burns approximately 350 calories in 30 minutes. In case you do not have enough room, you will not achieve significant gains with an actual rope. Using an imaginary rope is also known as ghost jumping. It keeps your heart rate up.

Target muscles:
Ghost jumping engages both the upper body and lower body muscles. The calves are the main muscles initiating an imaginary jump. The exercise also activates the glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings. In the upper body, you tone the abs and shoulder muscles.

With the aid of supportive and comfortable shoes or socks, this is how you do an imaginary jump rope;

  • Stand upright
  • Extend both your arms to your sides
  • Pretend you are holding a jump rope handle on both hands
  • Jump by lifting both feet off the ground at the same time
  • Do this as many times as you can.

SEE ALSO: How to Jump Rope Indoors: Everything You Need to Know

4. Jog in Place

Jogging in place is easier compared to an outdoor or treadmill jog. Jogging in place at home is convenient especially when you can’t go outside because of the bad weather.

The exercise aids in weight loss and efficiently burn calories. You can burn more than 500 calories, by exercising for just an hour. For best results when jogging in place, you must ensure it gets your heart pumping.

Target muscles:
Jogging in place is one of the best cardio workouts for small spaces. It tones your hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, and glutes.

Jogging in place is a killer fat-burning exercise, which strengthens your core and gives you stability. It also reduces the risk of getting heart disease, obesity, and other chronic illnesses.

Below are the steps of an effective jog in place;

jog in place exercise steps
  • Start by warming up with a slight jog
  • Move your arms
  • Lift your knees higher as you proceed
  • Slowly increase your speed
  • Alternate intensity and recovery periods

5. High Knee Exercise

The high knee workout involves getting into a running motion and lifting your knees high at the same time. You can incorporate the workout into your warm-up or do it as your workout routine.

The workout ensures adequate cardiovascular exercise, generally improves your health, increases your speed, and flexibility. It is a source of strength. It is also easy to perform.

Target muscles:
The high knee exercise engages the outer hip areas and the inner thigh. During the workout, your body maintains a balance standing on one leg. In the long run, your calf, hamstrings, quadriceps, and buttock muscles are toned.

The right way to do the high knee exercise in small spaces involves;

  • First standing with your feet slightly apart
  • Let your arms stay relaxed on your sides
  • Lift your left or right knee high first.
  • Bring your heel towards your glute keeping your toes up
  • Repeat the lifting process by alternating the knees

Related: The Complete Living Room Full Body Workouts (No Equipment)

6. Lateral Shuffle

A lateral shuffle involves the movement of the whole body from side to side. This exercise is common among soccer, basketball, and tennis players.

The lateral shuffle increases your ability to move from side to side swiftly. It also boosts the blood flow in the body, keeping your heart healthy. The workout burns calories and increases metabolism. It is efficiently done in small spaces.

Target muscles:
The exercise engages the thighs, butt, and hip workouts. The muscles worked include glutes, quadriceps, hip adductors and abductors, calf, hamstrings, and the shin muscles.

Here is how to do a lateral shuffle;

Lateral Shuffle exercise steps
  • Stand with your feet wider than your hip width pointing your toes forward
  • Bend your knees and hips with your butt sitting back
  • Lower your body into a squat position
  • Keep your knees at a position over your ankles
  • Bend and hold your arms in front of your body
  • Take a sideways step to the left then return to the original position
  • Repeat the step to the right and then back to the starting position

7. Split Lunge Jump

The split lunge jump is a small space workout that shapes the legs and the butt. The workout gets your heart pumping, and it improves your balance. It keeps your body in a stable position.

Target muscles:
The workout makes your legs powerful and aids in weight loss.
The split lungee workout is a great equipment-free exercise that works your full body. It tones the trunk, legs, core, hip, butt, and arm muscles. These muscles broadly include the biceps, triceps, shoulder muscles, quadriceps, and calves.

The steps for efficiently doing a split lunge jump are;

Split Lunge Jump exercise steps
  • Put one foot forward, bending the leading leg forming a 90-degree position
  • Sink your body down and bend the leg behind into a 90-degree position.
  • Keep your upper body upright
  • Brace your core and explosively push your body off the ground
  • Bend the legs such that the leading leg is parallel to the ground
  • Go on the next jump and repeat the process severally

SEE ALSO: 5 Amazing Bedroom Exercises to Lose Belly Fat and drop excess weight

8. Burpees

A burpee is a full-body workout. It is essential for strength training and aerobic exercises. The burpee is also known as a squat thrust.

Burpees make your body a fat-burning platform. Intense burpee workouts burn up to 50% more fat compared to regular workouts. They make you strong, require no equipment, and are good for conditioning.

Target muscles:
The workout tones the quads, arms, chest, glutes, abs, and hamstrings.

Below are steps you can use to do a Burpee in a small space;

Burpees exercise steps
  • Stand upright with your arms on your side and your feet apart
  • Lower your body into a squat, push your hips back, and bend your knees
  • Kick your feet back
  • Do a push-up and ensure your body forms a straight line. Your butt should not stick up neither should your back sag
  • Return to squat position
  • Explosively jump into the air
  • When you land, go into the squats position and get ready for your next rep

9. Plank Jacks

A plank jack is a workout that involves both planks and jumping jacks. They are good for aerobics and warm up. You can easily incorporate this workout into your daily routine, especially if you have limited space.

Target muscles:
The muscles that are involved when doing a plank jack include shoulders, biceps, and quadriceps. The plank also targets the core. The exercise improves flexibility, posture, muscle strength, and endurance.

The best way to do a plank jack is;

  • Start by getting into a forearm plank position.
  • Contract your ab muscles by activating the core such that your whole body is in a straight line
  • Keep your upper body as tight as you can
  • Jump your feet outward like a normal jumping jack
  • Place one foot in and out at a time
  • Return your feet to the normal plank position to complete the rep

10. Mountain Climbers

Mountain climbers are a full body workout that gets your heart rate accelerated. It fires up nearly every muscle in your body. All you need for this workout is your yoga mat and a comfortable pair of runners.

Target muscles:
The exercise challenges your coordination, agility, and balance. It is beneficial as it increases your blood circulation, flexibility, and strength. The workout is also useful for weight loss.

The muscles toned during mountain climbers are quads, triceps, the chest, abdominals, hamstrings, hip abductors, abs, and biceps.

Here are the steps for doing mountain climbers;

Mountain Climbers exercise steps
  • Start in a plank position.
  • Keep your abs pulled in to engage the core.
  • Remember to keep your body straight.
  • Pull one of your knees into the chest and keep your abs in tight
  • Quickly change to the other knee as you push your other leg back
  • Continue alternating the knees in a running motion

11. Plank to Frog Jump

Last but definitely not the least is the plank to frog jump exercise. It is another interesting workout you can perform in a small space. It is an amazing core body workout that is easy to do but intense at the same time. The exercise elevates your heart rate. If you are a beginner, start small, do not strain yourself. You will get there!

Target muscles:
If you want to tone your body, then you need this exercise. It strengthens your leg muscles, glutes, quads, calves, and hamstrings. The plank to frog jump also melts away unnecessary fats in the tummy and hands.

Here is how to do a plank to frog jump exercise;

  • Start in a high plank position.
  • Hop forward with both feet.
  • Make sure your hands are still on the ground and the feet outside your hands.
  • Straighten your feet back to the high plank position.
  • Repeat the process for at least 30 seconds.


There are hundreds of workouts that you can perform in limited spaces and the above overview is not exhaustive. Once you start looking for reasons not to work out, you will only blame those excuses for holding you back. The truth is you can still achieve the benefits of working out in confined spaces. Your circumstances should never be an excuse for not attaining your fitness goals.

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