Heart Pumping Full Body Exercises You Can Do At Home
Credit: Jeff Drongowski via WikiCommons

Have you ever watched the runners in a 10K jog by and noticed the look of misery they have on their faces? It’s even worse for marathon runners.

And why are so many avid runners chubby? They must train a lot to put themselves through that kind of misery and that involves burning a lot of calories. So what gives?

Jogging does increase your cardio capacity but at what cost?

It is true that as humans, we are programmed to run. We had to in order to survive the early days of our evolution. However, our ancestors never ran on concrete, beating their bones and tendons into submission.

Personally, I hate running. I hate everything about it. Honestly, I think it does more harm than good on the body, especially extreme running such as marathons. More and more evidence is beginning to emerge that running more than 10-20 miles a week damages your body in the long-term.

The most I have ever run at one time was four miles, but calling it running is a stretch. It was more like a fast trot. Afterward, I did feel a sense of accomplishment so I kind of get what runners refer to as the high. I repeated it several times, but I knew it was not something I could keep up. Why?

Running is really boring and if something is boring, whether it is a job, a relationship, a television program or an exercise program, it is not going to last.

After reading and studying up on the issue 2 years ago, I found more and more fitness experts recommending body weight exercises. These types of exercise are so simple, they require no extra equipment and only a little bit of open space in the living room or kitchen.

Ten minutes of these types of exercises will give you the same workout as pounding your knees and ankles on the pavement for 30 minutes or more.

So if your workout routine has plateaued or you are looking to switch things up, which is always a good idea, try these heart pumpers that will leave you breathless at the end of 10 minutes.

Mountain Climbers for Weight Loss

Mountain Climbers
Credit: U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons

If you do not know what a mountain climber is, you are in for a treat. There is only one other body weight exercise that is more taxing that this, and I will get to that one next.

Start on the floor as if you are about to do a push-up, then bring one knee up to almost meet your chest, then rotate back and in one motion, bring the other knee up. That is 1 rep. Keep doing this for 20 reps or if you don’t want to count in your head, set an interval timer on your smartphone and do it for 30 seconds straight.

One method I use sometimes to get a different type of burn with this exercise is to either use sliders on my feet to slide back and forth on carpet without ever lifting either leg off the floor. This keeps the pressure on the legs and doesn’t allow that second or two of rest as you lift each knee up. If you don’t have any furniture sliders, you can put on a pair of socks and slide your feet across hard wood floors. It works just as effectively.

After 20 of those, you are ready to move on.

Burpees for Cardio

BurpeesCredit: SGT Quentin Johnson via Wikimedia CommonsThis one will make you sore the next day so be sure to stretch your calves at the end of your exercise program.

This one is so hard and so taxing that I sometimes avoid it if I feel I don’t have a lot of energy reserves stored up.

To do a 1 burpee, stand straight, kneel down as if you are doing a squat, place your hands on the floor and in one motion kick your legs out from under you all the way back. You are now in the push-up position.

Go down and do one push-up, then in one motion as you rise out of it, kick your legs back in under you as you come up in a kneeled squat.

Now jump out of that squat in the air with your hand raised above your head. That’s one burpee.

Continue on and do 10 of those.

It may not sound like much, but trust me, you will be breathing heavy after a couple of these, especially if you just did the mountain climbers.

Jumping Jacks to Improve Stamina

Jumping Jacks for Stamina
Credit: R.J. Oriez via Wikimedia Commons

Remember those jumping jacks we first learned to do in grade school years ago? Well, it turns out they are one of the best total body workouts around. Think about it, you are using your arms and legs while doing your cardio.

You already know how to do a jumping jack so I am not going to describe that. As you continue on through this routine of exercises I am describing, try to do 30 – 40 seconds on jumping jacks. After doing the mountain climbers and burpees, honestly, I always find the jumping jacks to be a much needed “rest” period.

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Side Squats for All-Over Leg Strength

Side Squats
Credit: Everkinetic via Wikimedia Commons

You are probably familiar with the squat. There is no better exercise at strengthening the lower body so if your knees can take it, I suggest that you start off slowly and work up to the point where you can do 20 reps at a time. Squats will actually increase your flexibility and strength in your legs and your lower back. And you can make it a total body exercise by simply raising yoru arms above your head as you squat or holding weight plates.

Once you are comfortable with the regular front squat, you can move into lunges one leg at a time, or something called a side squat. It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out what this is.

Standing in the squat position with either your hands behind your head or stretched out to the side for balance, simply move your right leg out to the left a couple of feet and squat at an angle to that side straightening the left leg out as much as possible, then move back up and bring that right leg in to the starting position. Do five of those, then switch to the left leg.

Planking for Oblique Muscles

Believe it or not, this is your “rest” period during this exercise routine.

If you do not know what a plank is, think of yourself resting in the push-up position and holding it for 30 seconds. Or, you can rest on your arms and elbows in that position. Hold it for at least 30 seconds.

Once you are comfortable with doing the basic plank, kick it up a notch and raise one leg in the air and balance on the other as you plank. At that point it becomes a total body workout and you can really feel it in your quad muscles as you balance.

Now that you have gone through all five exercises, that is considered one set. Try to do 3 – 5 sets every other day starting out for a month, then slowly work up to more as you become more fit.

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That is a typical routine of five exercises that will give you a total body workout in 10 – 15 minutes. If you are just starting out, take a 30 second rest period in between each exercise switch. That is not going to decrease the benefits of this fast moving program. However, as you progress, you will start skipping the rest periods simply because you want to get finished faster with your routine, whether it be five sets of each of those exercise, or a certain amount of time.

There is a lot of advice out there about losing weight and staying healthy, and you should listen to it all, then pick out a routine that works for you. Most of the exercise I just described are in the intermediate to advanced range, so work your way up slowly, doing less reps if necessary.

And don’t forget to stretch your calves out after doing the burpees or you will have trouble walking for a few days.