The heart is a very vital organ that supports life as it circulates blood round the body. Through the blood, oxygen gets to cells and carbon dioxide is removed from the cells and returned to the lungs for exhalation through the nose. Also other impurities are removed from the body through the blood, as the heart pumps it round the body.
Like every part of the body, the heart needs to be maintained for optimal execution of its function. Cardio exercises help in this regard. Below is the first of a two-part guide on exercises to be done to help the heart muscles remain strong and work optimally for life.
Whether you’re adding these on at the end of your workout or using them for circuit training, frog jumps are a high intensity move and a great way to get your heart rate up in a short time.
This very advanced exercise will enhance your lower body power and cardio endurance while helping you burn more calories. Add one minute of frog jumps several times throughout your usual cardio workout to add intensity or add them to your workout when you’re short on time but want to work hard.
If your knees bother you, don’t squat all the way down to the floor. With feet about hip-width apart, squat all the way down to the floor, putting your hands on the floor in front of you. In an explosive movement, engage your glutes, quads, and hamstrings to push up from the floor, jumping up in the air.
As you jump, tap your heels together and take the hands behind the head or up in the air. Land with bent knees to protect the joints and go back into your squat to prepare for the next jump.
Repeat 10-20 frog jumps, rest and repeat, if desired.
Burpees are an exercise many of us may remember vividly from high school gym class. This tough exercise is so memorable because it works the entire body and gets the heart rate up in a very short period of time. The move is simple but very challenging on the heart, lungs, and the body. It’s a great move to add to your regular cardio workouts to add intensity and to work on your power, agility, and endurance.
Stand with feet about hip-width apart and squat to the floor, placing your hands on the floor in front of you. In an explosive movement, jump the feet out behind you so that you’re in a pushup position, on the hands and toes with the body in a straight line. Do a pushup on the toes or the knees (this is optional and adds quite a bit of intensity). Immediately jump the feet back to start, stand up and repeat for 10-15 reps or for 30-60 seconds.
Mountain climbers are an advanced, high intensity exercise that will get your heart rate up and add intensity to your workouts. This move will also build leg endurance and help you work on agility as well, making it a great overall exercise. If you’ve never tried this move, take your time and ease into it with slow reps. If you feel discomfort or pain, avoid this exercise. You’ll need lots of core strength for this move, as well as upper body endurance. Begin in a pushup position on the hands and toes, back flat and abs engaged. Bring the right knee in towards the chest, resting the foot on the floor. Jump up and switch feet in the air, bringing the left foot in and the right foot back. Continue alternating the feet as fast as you safely can for 30-60 seconds. Add this move at the end of your regular cardio workout for an added boost, or do it a few times during your workout whenever you want to add intensity or mix things up.
To modify, rest your hands on a step, platform or BOSU Balance Trainer (dome side down).
Another alternative is to run the knees in and out instead of touching the toes to the floor and switching feet in the air.
Squat jumps are a great way to add intensity to your workouts and really raise the heart rate. This is an advanced exercise that is high impact, so protect your joints by landing with soft knees. If the impact is too much, you can do the move without jumping. If you’ve never tried this move, take your time and ease into it with small jumps. If you feel discomfort or pain, avoid this exercise.
Begin with feet about hip-distance apart and engage the core. Squat as low as you can, touching the floor with your fingertips if you can. Make sure you send the hips back to avoid putting too much pressure on the knees. Jump up as high as you can, sweeping the arms overhead. Land with soft knees back into your squat and repeat for 30-60 seconds.
Jumping jacks to the step
Jumping jacks are great, but adding a step is a great way to add intensity and spice things up. This move is high impact, so protect your joints by landing with soft knees. You may want to start with the step at its lowest position if you’re trying this move for the first time. If you feel discomfort or pain, avoid this exercise.
Stand in front of a step or platform and jump up onto the step with both feet. Jump back down to the floor, or step down to the floor if jumping feels unsafe or uncomfortable. Do a jumping jack on the floor and, after you jump the feet back together, jump back onto the step. Continue alternating a jump on the step and a jumping jack for 30-60 seconds.
To modify, do jumping jacks on the floor or use a lower step. You can also jump in a staggered stance, with one foot hitting the step just before the other one, which makes the move less intense.
Toe taps with jumps
Toe taps are great for adding intensity and improving agility. If you’ve never tried this move, take your time and ease into it with slow taps without the jump. If you feel discomfort or pain, avoid this exercise.
Keep in mind that you can do this without a step or you can tap to any sturdy object like a BOSU or the lowest step on a staircase. Stand in front of a step or platform. Touch the right toe to the step, jump up and switch the feet in mid-air, touching the left toe to the step. Continue alternating toe taps as quickly and safely as you can for 30-60 seconds. Add this move at the end of your regular cardio workout for an added boost, or do it a few times during your workout whenever you want to add intensity or mix things up.
Side to side jumping lunges
If you want a great whole body exercise that gets your heart rate up, side to side lunges will do the trick.
You can do this move with a jump to add more intensity, but doing it without the jump will also work.
Keep your abs engaged to protect your back and, if you feel any back pain, avoid touching the floor.
If you’ve never tried this move, take your time and ease into it with slow repeats. If you feel discomfort or pain, avoid this exercise.
Take the right leg out to the side as you bend the left knee, turning the body to the left in a runner’s lunge. Touch the right fingers to the floor, if you can. Quickly jump up to shift the feet in the air and lunge to the right side, touching the left hand to the floor. Continue alternating sides for 30-60 seconds.
Prisoner squat jumps
Though similar to squat jumps, prisoner squat jumps focus more attention on the core, making this a great overall cardio exercise. By placing the hands behind the head and leaning the torso forward, you engage the abs and the back, which challenges the core. This is an advanced exercise that is high impact, so protect your joints by landing with soft knees. If the impact is too much, you can do the move without jumping. If you’ve never tried this move, take your time and ease into it with small jumps. If you feel discomfort or pain, avoid this exercise.
Begin with feet wide and the hands behind the head. Squat as low as you can, taking the torso slightly forward without rounding the back. Jump up as high as you can, keeping the hands behind the head.
Land with soft knees and repeat for 30-60 seconds.
• Adapted from www.verywellfit.com