Need a quick cardio blast? Try this 16-minute high-intensity workout

Don't like running? This short cardio workout increases your metabolism and works your core

Man performing mountain climbers at home
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Not everyone enjoys running, but cardio exercise helps protect our hearts and promotes overall fitness. If you need a burst of cardio to start your day or fit in around a busy schedule, this four-move, high-intensity routine will do just the trick.

Most of us hear 'cardio' and immediately picture someone lacing up a set of the best running shoes for women or running shoes for men and heading outside. But cardio can be any type of exercise that helps get your heart pumping.

This improves your cardiovascular health and keeps your heart healthy, but there are other benefits, like increasing your metabolism (the amount of energy you burn in a day) and promoting mental wellbeing.

Running might be the most well-known form of cardio exercise, but high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can be a great alternative, especially when you're short on time.

The aim of this training style is to work as hard as possible for a short amount of time, take a quick rest, and start the next exercise. This way, you fit a lot into a short session but still elevate your heart rate for an intense cardio workout.

That's the key to personal trainer Zanna Van Dijk's four-move bodyweight cardio routine. You don't need any special equipment (except one of the best yoga mats for underfoot support), and it only takes 16 minutes.

Watch Zanna Van Dijk's four-move cardio workout

To get the entire 16-minute circuit, you'll complete four rounds, and do each move for 40 seconds, take a 20-second rest, and switch to the next exercise. It's intense, but the short breaks mean that you keep your heart rate up throughout.

If you're new to bodyweight cardio training, Zanna's Instagram post includes short video guides for each exercise, so you can learn the move and perfect your form. If you want to add them to your routine, you just need the four movements listed below.

Zanna Van Dijk's cardio workout exercises

  • Down ups
  • Skaters
  • Mountain climbers
  • Pop jump lunges

These moves are designed to get your heart racing, but they also help you get stronger. Mountain climbers and skaters are some of the best abs workouts, helping train your core, an area of mid-body muscle responsible for balance and workout performance.

Your core also includes the rectus abdominis, the six-pack ab muscle, which is why people often talk about developing core strength and working their abs at the same time. However, there are more direct options if you want to build a stronger core. 

You can incorporate plenty of bodyweight core strengthening exercises into your regular workout or group them together for a quick ab-focused session. And, as you don't need any equipment, you can do them whenever you have a spare moment.

If you enjoy training with weights, investing in one of the best kettlebells is a great way to build your cardio fitness and work your core. Then, with a weight in hand, you can start adding multi-muscle moves like kettlebell swings into your routine.

James Frew
Fitness Editor

James is a London-based journalist and Fitness Editor at Fit&Well. He has over five years experience in fitness tech, including time spent as the Buyer’s Guide Editor and Staff Writer at technology publication MakeUseOf. In 2014 he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition, which spurred his interest in health, fitness, and lifestyle management.

In the years since, he has become a devoted meditator, experimented with workout styles and exercises, and used various gadgets to monitor his health. In recent times, James has been absorbed by the intersection between mental health, fitness, sustainability, and environmentalism. When not concerning himself with health and technology, James can be found excitedly checking out each week’s New Music Friday releases.