5 Of The Best Cardio Workouts For Women

By | March 27, 2017

Trying to define the best cardio workouts for women is a very difficult thing to do. In short – the answer is going to be different for everyone. There are a multitude of factors that will determine what is best for one lady and this will most likely be different for the next lady. The background, physical condition, personal preferences, medical limitations, budgetary constraints, time constraints (work, kids etc) all make a big difference to what is best for each person. So we cannot definitely say that if you are a female then the best cardio workout for you is XYZ, but what we can do is give some indications as to what may be most useful for you depending on your fitness goals, lifestyle and current physical situation.

Cardiovascular workouts are great for our bodies for many reasons:

  • Cardio workouts condition our heart to be strong and help reduce the risk of heart disease,
  • Moderate to high intensity cardio activity stimulates metabolism,
  • It has been shown that cardio can improve our mental health and reduce anxiety and depression,
  • Cardio burns calories!

Which Type Of Cardio Is Right For Me?

When most people say cardio they are referring to aerobic exercise. The thing that distinguishes aerobic from anaerobic exercise is the use of oxygen in the muscles. When there is adequate oxygen and fuel for the muscles they can keep doing their thing without fatiguing. Blood flow is stimulated, the heart rate is raised and we breathe deeply, start to sweat and burn calories.

Many people think that cardio is cardio and that the net result for your body is the same. In some small ways this is true but for the most part this is not true at all. Not all cardio is created equal. Cardio comes in many different forms and they all have different impacts on the body. Running is a great cardio workout but if you have bad knees then it is actually not great. See what I mean?

In order to determine what will best suit your body and lifestyle you need to think about the bigger picture. What times can you do your cardio? Where can you do it? How long for? Do you have any physical conditions that may be stirred up by certain exercises? (running with bad knees) Do you want to pay money? There are countless other things to consider here, but there is one thing that is far more important. What do you enjoy doing? If that seems like a silly question then we’ll re-frame it: what do you hate the least? For cardio to be effective it must be done consistently, so you need to do something that you enjoy and/or can tolerate doing regularly.

Our Top 5 Cardio Workouts For Women

As previously stated, this is different for everyone. The best cardio workout for one woman is almost certainly not going to be the best one for her mother/daughter/sister/friend. Luckily there are a myriad of options for the budding exerciser and most people seem to be able to find something they enjoy. This is the key. Choosing the best cardio exercises for women really comes down to finding something that you enjoy, that fits your lifestyle and compliments your physical condition and fitness goals. Below we will present what we believe are 5 of the top cardio workouts women can do.


Crossfit is becoming hugely popular and for good reason – the high intensity nature of it and the regular changing of exercises gives the body a fantastic workout. Many women love it, but many don’t. It can be hard. Some people say brutal. But for the majority of people it is a great way to get a serious workout without having to invest serious time. Because Crossfit is based around high intensity exercises; this means that you can burn as many calories as you can with more relaxed forms of exercise, in half the time! Be warned though, it is an intense time!

Other benefits of Crossfit are the constantly changing exercises and the integrated resistance training. Crossfit workouts consist of a circuit of exercises (WOD – workouts of the day) which are different each session. This means that your body doesn’t get a chance to become accustomed to the exercises and therefore is always challenged, thus avoiding the plateaus that many people experience in other forms of exercise. The other thing that makes Crossfit a good workout is the resistance training. Crossfit WODs incorporate weights and give your body an all over workout which boosts your metabolism and really gets your heart firing.

Note: It is debatable as to whether Crossfit actually qualifies as cardio because the high intensity nature of it and the inherent resistance training involve a lot of anaerobic exercise too. For the purposes of this article though we consider it to be cardio.

Best Crossfit Workouts for Women At Home

The best environment for Crossfit is in a dedicated Crossfit gym. The energy of the trainers and the people around you helps to push you to that high level of intensity that categorizes the Crossfit movement. However, there is no reason you can’t do Crossfit at home by yourself or with a friend. You may be new to the sport and want to start off slow, you may be a little shy or embarrassed, or maybe you are highly motivated and prefer to work out on your own. Whatever the reason, if you want to work out at home then take a look at some of the videos below. Good luck!

These workouts are tough so for a bit of extra energy you might want to check out what we think are the best pre workout supplements for Crossfit.

Videos – Crossfit Workouts To Do At Home


One of the most popular and probably the easiest form of cardio exercise you can do is to simply put your shoes on a go for a run. Running has a host of health benefits that extend beyond simply exercising your legs. At slower speeds it is a great form of cardio or aerobic exercise, and at faster speeds it also gives you an anaerobic workout.

Running is great for mental health. Unless you are using a treadmill in your living room it gets you out and about and this is great. No one likes being stuck in the house all day! In addition to this it also raises your heart rate and releases feel good endorphins through your body which make you feel good, naturally. A lot cheaper and better for your long term health than drugs!

If you are new to running then it is recommended that you start off slow, and don’t run too far on your first go. A good way to ease into it is by alternating between running and walking. Run for a minute then walk for a minute, gradually extending the amount of time you run for.

If you have any unusual pain or issues with any of your muscles or joints then you should stop and check in with a physiotherapist before continuing. Running is great but if it injures you then you are better off finding another activity.

Top Tips To Help You Enjoy Running:

  • Music. A good set of headphones is invaluable. But just remember to be careful when crossing the road etc!
  • Find a long path, ideally in a park or something. It is safer and more pleasant being away from the traffic and being able to run continuously is much nicer than constantly having to stop to cross roads etc.
  • Get some good running shoes! They are not cheap but having a good pair of running shoes is invaluable and will help to prevent injuries and undesired things like shin splints.
  • Stay hydrated. Keep your fluids up as you will sweat a lot.
  • Try a pre workout. This post can help you choose the best pre workouts for running.

Top At Home Cardio Workouts For Women

Many women (and men too of course) like to do their cardio workouts at home. While this doesn’t bring the benefits of other types of cardio there are a lot of reasons why this may be the most suitable type of cardio workout for many women.

Benefits Of Working Out At Home

There are many befits to working out in the comfort and privacy of your own home:

  • You are working out in private and therefore no-one can see or hear you being all red-faced and struggling to breathe!
  • Time savings by not having to get ready or go anywhere.
  • You may have a baby or young child to look after and being able to work out and watch them at the same time is essential.
  • You can watch TV while you work out. This is a great distraction that makes the time pass quicker!
  • It is easy to make this part of your routine and we all know that the easier it is to do something the more likely we will do it.

Aerobic Workout Videos

Aerobic Dance Work At Home!

If working out for the sake of working out is not your style, then finding a fun way to get your cardio is the key. Dancing is a really great way to get your body moving, and have some fun at the same time. Add a rocking soundtrack and it will be more like a party than a workout. That’s more like it!

Cardio Machines for Working Out At Home

When it comes to working out at home, cardio machines are probably the most popular and for many reasons often the most effective way to get your daily exercise. Using a cardio machine to work out at home gives you all the benefits associated with exercising at home, as well as:

  • Cardio machines all have great tools built in to them that allows you to monitor and record all sorts of things such as your heart rate, speed, duration etc. This is really good for tracking your progress to see how you improve over time. Seeing your results improve is a great source of motivation.
  • Seeing the machine every time you walk past makes it harder to ignore and increases your chances of actually working out.
  • Heart rate training is a great way to get the most out of your workouts and modern cardio machines make this easy to do.
  • The machine will grow with you. Most machines have adjustable resistance so as you become stronger and fitter you simply increase the resistance/speed/intensity to take yourself to the next level.
  • In some regards the machine makes it easier to workout. I mean, you can sit down in front of the TV! You may be huffing and puffing but at the same time you are acually parked in your lounge room, in front of the TV!

Everyone has different circumstances so it is hard to say which cardio machine you should buy to work out at home. However this post on the best cardio machines for weight loss is a very useful guide and can help you make the right decision. The information below may also help you determine what’s right for you.

Stationary/Exercise Bike

Spin Those Wheels

The stationary bike or exercise bike or spin bike can be a great tool to improve and/or maintain your health and fitness. Go to most gyms and you’ll find that indoor cycling (often called spin) classes are very popular. Why is this? Couldn’t tell you. The thought of being trapped in a room with a bunch of sweaty people huffing and puffing under the command of an angry instructor fills many people with terror. Though many other people seem to find extra motivation in that environment. Maybe that is due to ‘sharing the pain’ with the other people in the class. Often the encouragement of the instructor helps. Or the loud music and colored lights which are often present are a sufficient distraction from the pain.

Make Yourself Feel Ride At Home

There are also many reasons why spin classes are not an attractive option for many women. The hassle of getting ready and going to the gym. The difficulty of having to be at the gym at a certain time to make the class. The times that the classes are offered may not work with your schedule. You feel more comfortable coughing and spluttering in private. The list goes on. There are also many benefits to having your own exercise bike at home. Namely, you can sit on your butt in front of the TV and at the same time have yourself a killer workout! There are many other reasons to buy an exercise bike to use at home if you can afford it however I don’t think any more are needed.

Learn more about exercise bikes for cardio at home.

Stationary Bike Workout To Do At Home

Stairway to Heaven – Elliptical Machine

Another very popular exercise machine is the cross trainer or elliptical machine. This is the machine that makes it look like you are skiing. If you’ve never used one it actually looks like a lot of fun. If you have used one then… you may sill think it is fun, or, you may not :p

The cross trainer is great for women who want to work their arms at the same time as they are doing their cardio. These machines are great for people with moderate fitness levels, especially the upright versions. For moderate to low fitness levels it is definitely worth considering the recumbent variants of these as they provide more support and are a little easier to use if you have less core stability. More info on recumbent elliptical machines for cardio.

Upright elliptical machines are a great option for women wanting an all over body workout that is easier on the joints than something like running. Because the weight is distributed through the arms as well as the legs they can be gentler on your joints than exercise bikes. Like all good cardio machines the resistance can be adjusted so as you progress you simply crank it up to make sure you keep feeling the burn! This is a great machine to have at home and they are getting cheaper all the time.


Row, Row, Row Your Boat – Rowing Machine

So you could say that the treadmill is perfect for running or easy to moderate workouts, the cross trainer is great for moderate all over body workouts and the rowing machine is great for full body workouts with a higher intensity. The rower works all your muscles much like the elliptical machine, but with this machine you can really take your workouts to the next level. If you want to push yourself so hard that you throw up, then a rower is the machine for you! Of course this is the absolute extreme and most people don’t want to push themselves to the point of throwing up. But if you do then this machine can take you there.

Rowing machines are great for a full body workout that you can do in the comfort of your living room, and of all the in home cardio machines it probably takes up the last space. Many modern home rowing machines will fold up to be quite small and are designed to be easily stashed away when not in use.

These machines are suitable for women with a moderate level of fitness and probably offer the most sweat for your dollar. Of course the resistance is adjustable and modern machines have built in games etc and different interval training programs to keep you focused and help you push to the next level. If you are a woman with a moderate level of fitness and flexibility that wants to get fitter, then buying a rowing machine for your home is a great idea.

For more information on rowing machines, click here.

We have presented what we feel are 5 of the best cardio workouts for women, however there are countless other ways you can get your sweat on. If none of the workouts in this article are for you that’s ok, you can surely find something you like.

So what are you waiting for, go get sweaty!

Workout Motivation Video


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