When we talk about cardio exercises, it generally refers to any form of workout that raises the heartbeat. It can be walking, running, cycling or the more intense HIIT (high-intensity interval training) exercises. However, these are the commonly known forms of cardio exercises.
There are so many that are fun, unique yet quite unknown to us that we will look into further. Exercise doesn’t have to be a task, it can be a fun, refreshing and energizing way to live your life.
Why is a Cardio Workout so Important?
It is quite widely accepted that cardio exercises are necessary for keeping the body fit, healthy and in shape. A person should either do at least 75 minutes of vigorous activity or150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each week.
Jogging, brisk walking, cycling or swimming are examples of moderate exercise. Even doing a rhythmic activity that raises your heart rate to your target heart rate zone, the zone where you'll burn the most fat and calories, is a great cardio exercise for men and women.
It isn’t necessary to exercise at length. Even periods as short as 10 minutes count towards your weekly cardio exercise minutes. According to the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee, episodes of any length contribute to the health benefits associated with the accumulated volume of physical activity. (7)
Running or cycling are examples of vigorous activity. But what are the other health benefits to the internal organs and unseen parts of our body? This list explores further.
For people suffering from high or elevated blood pressure, exercise can be a big boon. A 2013 study showed how researchers found that sedentary older adults who participated in aerobic exercise training lowered their blood pressure significantly. An average of 3.9 percent systolic and 4.5 percent diastolic reduction was seen. These results are as good as some blood pressure medications. (1)
- Helps Regulate Blood Sugar Levels
Physical exercises, like cardio exercises, help in regulating the blood insulin levels, especially in people with type 2 diabetes. (2).
People with asthma have been seen to have less frequency and severity of asthma attacks.
Cardio exercises like low-impact activities such as swimming may help you strengthen muscle function, build strength , and endurance.
A study on individuals with chronic sleep issues resulted in better sleep quality and duration, as well as improvements in their daytime wakefulness and vitality. (3)
We all knew that exercise helps you regulate weight, but now we know that may hold the power to help you lose weight and keep it off.
- Help People Who are Overweight
A recent study on overweight participants with minimal exercise (600 calories/5 days a week) and the same diet showed significant weight loss (~5% of body weight in 10 months). If you cut calories along with exercise, the amount of weight loss increases significantly. (4)
- Strengthens Immune System
Our body contains certain antibodies in the blood called immunoglobulins. Regular and moderate aerobic exercise increases the amount of these antibodies, that ultimately strengthens the immune system.
Aerobic exercise may slow loss of brain tissue after the age of 30 and improve cognitive performance. Thus, cardio exercises do the body and brain good.
An energetic mental boost can be seen even after a single exercise session. Moving your body may also improve your mood. With patients suffering from depression, studies suggest that engaging in exercise, even for a short period of time, may have a big impact on mood. (5)
After all these mind-opening facts about the extremely important function that cardio exercises can impart to us, it is only natural for you to wonder how to proceed further.
The awareness that is generated must be put to good use, hence we provide you with the next and most important thing: A list of cardio exercises at home.
20 best cardio workouts for men:
There are plenty of workouts that can burn off the calories at a lightning-fast rate. Instead of running, you can burn more calories by doing high-intensity weight training.
We’ve compiled a varied list of the best cardio workouts for men that is guaranteed to provide the above benefits to you.
The go-to cardio exercise for everyone. While it is effective in its own way, at around 10-minute-per-km pace — roughly the average guy’s marathon pace — you’ll burn about 10 calories a minute, which isn't too bad.
- Kettlebell Flow
This is a new brand of fitness where you chain together a sequence of exercises, doing one move, then shifting to the next and then the next after that. This fun mix-up and lets you do more than mere rep after rep of an exercise. We can consider this one of the best cardio for men because you build strength and athleticism. You can see burning of multiple calories simultaneously in different parts of the body. First, you do a kettlebell swing, followed by a clean, followed by a snatch, and then followed by a squat-to-press in the end.
- Battle Ropes
Although seemingly easy, these are a big strain on your bicep muscles. Total oxygen consumption is highest in battle-rope exercises. They give an average calorie burn of 10.3 calories per minute.
This burns an average 13 calories per minute. It pairs three exercises—5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 air squats—that work on different major muscle groups, and you do as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes.
- Jumping Rope
Rope jumping when done mild to moderately with 100 to 120 skips per minute, burns about 13 calories a minute. It might not seem like it, jumping rope uses more muscle groups than jogging while also challenging your balance and coordination.
In this cardio exercise, you should perform at least 10 burpees every 60 seconds, or a rate of 14.3 calories per minute. This boosts up your metabolism very fast, and that makes the burpee one of the best cardio workouts for men.
- Compound Barbell Movements
Instead of running, it is so much easier to just pick up weights. If you try stringing together a couple barbell or dumbbell movements back-to-back without putting down the bar and watch your heart rate start to skyrocket, it is considered one of the effective cardio exercises for men.
If your goal is to burn fat, then sprinting doesn’t just burn fat faster, it also helps build muscle. A good cardio workout for men is the Stair Sprints. Start at the top of the staircase. Go down one flight of stairs, then sprint back up to the top. The second set follows by going down two flights of stairs and sprinting back up to the top. Next, do the third set by going down three flights of stairs and sprinting back to the top. This can be carried on further.
- Mountain Climber
Alongside your core, the Mountain Climber also gives your shoulders and triceps a good workout. All in all, this is one on our list of cardio exercises at home which is a must-do. Lie down on the floor in a prone position and get into a plank position while extending your arms directly below your shoulders. Keeping your core very taut and tight, use your strength to bring your left knee towards your chest. Hold your position here for a few seconds. Do the above thing with your right leg while simultaneously moving your left one back to its original position.
- Jump Squats
Besides working your quads and calves, Jump Squats also help give you those ripped legs that are found in footballers. Firstly, you start with standing with your feet, shoulder-width apart and your arms locked by your sides. Next, proceed to push your hips back while bending your knees, and lower your body so that your upper thighs are parallel to the floor. You should keep in mind that your arms should be parallel to the floor too. After a slight pause, proceed to jump as high as you can while swinging your arms slightly backwards. Regain your energy before starting over.
- Jumping Jacks
They assist heavily in getting the blood pumping and is an excellent warm-up exercise as it gets every part of your body moving. Another best cardio for men, for sure. You first stand with your feet together and your arms at your sides. The next step is to raise your arms above your head and jump up while spreading out your feet. Come back to your original stance and repeat this exercise.
- Box Step Ups
They work the glutes, quads and hamstrings to the fullest but also burns fat effectively. Firstly, stand in front of a box or any other sturdy elevator platform with your feet shoulder-width apart. Put your left leg on top of the box, followed by the right leg. Take a pause for a few seconds before reverting to your original stance.
- Agility Ladder
You'll burn a ton of calories with the short bursts of speed, balance, and coordination. Lay the ladder on the ground and run sprints up and down with quick intervals.
This is a great cardio exercise for men because you don't have to get in the ring against an opponent to knock out calories with boxing-style workouts. Hit a heavy bag or work with a partner, it’s fun and is one of the best cardio for men.
Hitting the pool for a few laps everyday is another great cardio exercise. You can either do interval work in the pool for 100 meters, then resting for a minute and repeating 10 times, or you can just swim a steady distance.
- The Ski-Erg
If you want to get your heart rate up but try something new and unique, then this one's for you. The Ski-erg is a unique cardio device which is supposed to simulate cross-country skiing. To start off, you pull downwards with a lot of force on a pair of ropes attached to a variable-resistance fan while you simultaneously bend at the knees and hips. This may sound complicated because it is meant for more experienced professionals but it is easier once you get the hang of it. It's a versatile and potent workout. No matter what, expect to be drenched in sweat. This is amongst the best cardio for men.
This won’t be a great list of good cardio exercises for men without cycling. It’s known to aid in weight loss with excessive exercising, improve your cardio endurance and build your lower back muscles and legs. An hour of cycling can easily burn 400 to 1000 calories, depending on your weight and the intensity of cardio workout. While sitting on a cycling machine, cycle as hard as possible for 30 seconds, coast for the next 15. Repeat this 7-8 times.
More commonly known as the cross-trainer, this equipment is a stationary workout machine that helps you simulate jogging, running or climbing in a gym. It helps you reduce the risk of excessive pressure on the joints, thus decreasing the chances of injuries. This is a good workout idea for extensive training in a comfortable environment. You can play around with the different functions by switching up the resistance, speed, and intensity levels of the machine to alter the performance.
- High-intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
HIIT is a new and popular form of exercise that gives an intensive aerobic option, which is shorter to complete than the traditional cardio training. If you’re just doing aerobic exercise, your body has adjusted to the speed of the workout, conserving some calories. HIIT eliminates this steady-state pace. HIIT can be performed with this sample: Jump rope in 60 seconds. Do dips in 15 reps. Perform high knees exercise with 30-40 reps in each knee. Perform curls with resistance bands for 20 more reps.
- Versa Climber
Last but not least, we end our list of best cardio exercises at home with the VersaClimber. This is an exercise tool that conditions your body to enhance power, strength, and cardio through flexibility, speed, and endurance. It challenges your upper and lower body’s muscles, like you’re walking uphill with a steep slope.
How Workout Clothing Helps to Boost Performance
Alright, so we know why working out is so important, other than outwardly appearance. We also made a comprehensive list of the best workouts that can be done at home by men. But just as a cocktail party is incomplete without a red dress, a proper workout is incomplete without the appropriate gear.
Most people do not realise the vital impact that exercise clothes have on our performance. If you’re just going to get sweaty, it seems best to wear old and shabby tee-shirts. But this is very counter-intuitive.
Firstly, working out is all about confidence. A lot of research has been done in the field of cognition that have shown the positive impact of wearing the right clothes for your environment. This phenomenon is termed ‘enclothed cognition’.
It also extends to sports and fitness wear too. Studies at Northwestern University have found that our psychological states, as well as our performance levels are affected by the clothing we wear. (6) The boost could be an increase in confidence – if you know you look great – chances are you will act it out too. If you like how you externally look at the gym, there is a greater chance you will want to exercise.
When you have the right tools like well-fitted workout clothes that offer support in the right areas, you’re going to feel more confident. The confidence translates into better performance.
Secondly, material and design play a major role in boosting performance. In accordance with physics, swimming trunks that create a more aerodynamic flow are the best suited for swimmers.
A majority of men wear a pair of basketball shorts everywhere that double up as swimming trunks too. However, the drag created by the pockets will slow you down. A decent swimsuit will make a huge difference to your swimming posture. Also, joggers need something practical like a shirt that wicks away moisture from the body so your morning jogs are more comfortable and you can stay out longer.
It is not advised to wear a top that is made of non-breathable material because it is going to stop the release of heat from your body. This leads to excessive heating and discomfort that hampers your exercise time.
The best material is 100% cotton for workout shirts, this will absorb the sweat and hold it against your body instead of clinging. Choose workout clothing that keeps the perspiration away from your body.
Thirdly, you need to keep form and posture in mind while exercising. You may want to protect your face with a cap and cover your head. You need protection when you’re out running but also have something that's long-sleeved. That way you don't have to apply sunscreen that clogs up the pores on your skin.
Using gloves in the gym to protect your hands from developing calluses on the palms is advisable. Blisters, cramps and slipping can be caused by shoes that are not the right size which will slow you down. High-tops are required for the protection of weak ankles. The feet can be protected from heavy landings with good quality sports shoes when you jump or perform intense exercises. Depending on the arches of your feet, i.e. normal, fallen or flat-footed, you might require orthotic prescribed inserts to offer the right support during exercises.
Now, from the above tips, it is easy to say that there are some basic do’s and don’ts before starting any workout. Always keep in mind: Confidence, Material and Accessories are key to the perfect exercise plan.
How to Choose the Right Cardio Workout Clothing for Men
Proper gym attire - These words are oh-so-important because they can make or break all the hard work that you have been doing. There's etiquette that needs to be followed at the gym.
Firstly, you should always wear moisture-wicking clothing. When you're sweating it out at the gym, your body needs to stay cool and comfortable in moisture-wicking clothes. These types of clothes are designed to keep the perspiration away from your body. Wear a t-shirt that is designed to keep perspiration away and to the outer surface of your body. Wicking or performance fabrics are generally made of polyester and Lycra blends. They cost more than your regular cotton t-shirt but will last longer, dry faster and keep you comfortable throughout your workout. Don't make the mistake of wearing heavy-weight cotton t-shirts, they tend to hold on to moisture, making your workouts an uncomfortable experience. Denim shorts will cause chafing, it's best to avoid them at the gym.
Secondly, it is of utmost importance to wear clothing that actually fits you. Contrary to what we may believe, workout clothing that are too big is functionally worse to wear to the gym. Clothes that are too loose will:
- Constrict your movement
- Make you look smaller than you are
While buying clothes, choose materials like a mix of nylon-elastane and a fit that gives you freedom of movement to exercise. The small percentage of spandex allows for a greater range of motion during exercise and provides a very comfortable fit without being too tight.
Thirdly, since you’re doing cardio exercises that require fast movement, it is important to wear the right footwear. The footwear you choose for a workout should provide proper support and protection to your feet. Wearing appropriate footwear actually reduces your risk of injury and improves your physical performance. The only time you should be wearing flip flops or sandals at the gym is after your workout or in the locker room. Wearing proper shoes gives you traction and prevents you from slipping.
All in all, there are varying levels of intensity during workouts. It is always best to remember that nothing is too less, any step you take and movement you make it a good push in the direction of a healthy body and mind.