What Is Cardio Burst Training?

Cardio workouts sometimes get a bad rap for being dull and tedious, but the latest fitness trends call for something new: cardio burst training.

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Cardio burst training is exactly what it sounds like – quick bursts of intense, cardio exercise. Simply put, a cardio burst is a short, intense bout of cardiovascular activity — including bodyweight resistance moves like jumps or hops, or high-intensity cardio like sprints — which is done between strength moves. This serves to elevate the heart rate and burn fat, while also training the cardiovascular system to recover more quickly from intense exercise.

The best part is that because you’re upping the intensity, you’re more efficient at the gym, and that means shorter, but equally effective, workouts.


The key to successful cardio burst training is to maintain a high intensity; but how long are we required to keep up with the hard and highly intense work? “Perceived level of exertion” is unique to the individual, and can even change from day to day (depending on diet, sleep, energy levels and more), but only you can judge how hard you’re working. You can also check your heart rate with a monitor, since exertion is linked to heart rate.

Cardio Burst Exercises

Jump rope and sprints are all expected cardio burst exercises, but we suggest incorporating some full-body movements, like burpees and ploy-lunges, for an even more effective workout.

  • Jumping jack squats: Just as you would do a normal jumping jack, but at the bottom of the move, do a squat.
  • Frogger burpees: When you jump your feet forward from the push-up position, make sure your feet go outside of your hands when you land.
  • Mountain climbers with push-ups: After each push-up, bring one knee up to your chest. Do the other leg, and then do another push-up. Repeat.
  • Plyo-lunges: Follow the proper form of a typical lunge, but add a hop in between switching the positions of the legs.
  • High-knees: Marching on the spot is good, but up the intensity with high-knee running on the spot. Hold your hands out in front with your elbows bent at 90 degrees. Aim to touch your knees to your hands and go as fast as you can.
  • Hip twisters: Facing forward, jump as you turn your core (but not your shoulders) from side to side. Your feet should point left as you land on one jump, and then right on the next jump.
  • Skaters: Do wide jumps from side to side, landing on the outer leg, just like when you skate.
  • Active recovery: Just because you’re taking a break between exercises doesn’t mean you should sit down or stop moving. Instead, do what’s called “active recovery.” A boxer’s shuffle, scissor jumps or core exercises, including sit-ups and planks, are ideal for this.

Cardio Burst Workouts

You can try a high-intensity interval training workout, otherwise known as HIIT, which involves bursts of cardio with strength-training moves.

When you’re ready, give this 20-minute, total-body HIIT cardio burst workout a go. This routine uses plyometrics – jumping that both tones muscles and increases heart rate – for short intervals.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be that complicated; a simple but intense sprint workout will provide a cardio burst and get your heart rate up in no time, too.

Happy bursting!