Beginner’s Low-Intensity Cardio Workout Plan

Slow & Steady Wins the Race!

It’s not that we don’t want to, but some of us just can’t participate in high-intensity exercise. This may be due to illness, injury, osteoporosis, pregnancy, or even just the fact that you’re new to exercise. This is perfectly fine! We can still get in great shape without HIIT. This Beginner’s Low-Intensity Cardio Workout Plan is a great choice to gently burn substantial calories. Of course, you should always speak to your doctor before beginning a workout program.

What is low-intensity cardio, anyway? A few examples would be walking, swimming, biking, or any bodyweight exercise that is easy on the joints. This form of cardio requires you to keep your heart rate between 40% and 60% of your max heart rate. In order to find your proper low-intensity heart rate, we must first find your max heart rate.

To do this, you’ll subtract your age from 220. For example, I’m 27, so 220 – 27 = 193. 193 is my max heart rate. Now you will multiply your max heart rate by 0.4 and 0.6 to find your low intensity heart rate range. For instance, 193 x .4= 77.2 and 193 x .6= 115.8, so my low intensity heart rate should be kept between 77 and 116 beats per minute.

There are multiple different heart rate monitors that you can use, like the FitBit, or use the heart rate readers provided on most cardio equipment.

There are several benefits that this beginner’s low-intensity cardio workout plan has to offer! Low-intensity exercise promotes weight loss. On average, you’ll burn just over 100 calories per mile. This form of cardio also improves muscular endurance. This differs from HIIT because high-intensity exercise usually builds muscle. Muscular endurance is earned through performing high reps at a low intensity. Last, but certainly not least, low intensity exercise has been proven to control appetites when compared to HIIT. It keeps you from feeling as hungry because you don’t have to work quite as hard.

Now that we know what low-intensity exercise is and the benefits that it has to offer, we can get to the workout! We’re going to incorporate a few different exercises to keep it from being too monotonous. Are you ready?!

The Workout

I want you to complete each round with little to no rest in between each exercise. Each round should take 5 minutes to complete. The American Heart Association recommends getting in 150 minutes of low-intensity exercise per week. With that being said, I want you to work up to completing 6 rounds of this workout, 5 times per week. We’ve included instructional videos for each exercise, below. Remember to focus on your breathing throughout the entirety of the workout.

  • Beginner: Perform 2 rounds
  • Intermediate: Perform 4 rounds
  • Expert: Perform 6 rounds
  1. Walk at 40-60% intensity: 3 Minutes

  2. Bicycle Crunches: 30 seconds

  3. Chair Squats: 60 seconds

  4. Push-Ups from knees: 30 seconds

Bicycle Crunches

Chair Squats

Push-ups (from knees)

When performed 5 times per week, this beginner’s low-intensity cardio workout plan will improve your cardiovascular health and help you to shed excess weight. Our bodies are incredibly adaptable so you will most likely see improvement fairly early on. When it gets too easy, you can begin to increase exercise duration and complete more rounds! Keep in mind that everyone has to start somewhere, and this is a great place to do just that!

Once your fitness level improves enough, try this Walk/Run Get Fit Program!

It’s also important to adhere to a healthy eating plan. Check out our Beginner’s Guide to Healthy Weight Loss.

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Gale Compton

Gale co-founded SkinnyMs. with a goal to provide women with delicious recipes, fitness routines, and ways to reach their ideal weight. Gale has been featured on the Today Show in which she won a cook off for the best Lasagna. Be sure to search for her winning recipe, Skinny Lasagna Rolls.

Guided by her firm belief in healthy eating and the power of exercise, Gale has written two cookbooks and several fitness ebooks. She earned her Fitness Training Certification from, National Exercise & Sports Trainers Association. Gale loves to run with her dog Maggie and has completed numerous half-marathons.

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