The main objective of a cardio (short for cardiovascular) video or DVD is to raise your heart rate for at least 20 minutes. Modern DVDs are a big departure from the jumping jacks and running in place you might remember from the '80s. Most of today's highest-rated workout videos are a combination of cardio moves to raise the heart rate and strength training to help tone muscle. The emphasis is on working the large muscle groups -- such as those found in the butt, legs, chest and back -- to elevate heart rate, while minimizing high-impact moves that can lead to knee strain or injury.
While there are some popular cardio-based routines that are still popular, one newer DVD that has received excellent feedback of late is Amy Dixon Breathless Body: The Ultimate Calorie Burn (*Est. $20). The workout is a true Tabata-style interval training routine -- which reviewers say is ideal for those looking for an effective cardio workout. Throughout the routine, Dixon leads you through drills that increase the heart rate. You'll perform each move as quickly as you can for 30 seconds before taking a 10-second rest -- and repeat that pattern for a grueling two minutes. The video was a top pick by the credible Fitness magazine in their roundup of the best fitness DVDs of 2012 and is our Best Reviewed Cardio Exercise Video.
While workout series like P90X: Tony Horton's 90-Day Extreme Home Fitness Workout DVD Program (*Est. $150) or Physique 57 (*Est. $60) contain cardio elements, they are focused more on strength training. Those seeking cardio DVDs and not whole workout series tend to want a more time-saving approach with a quicker turnaround. Plus the high price of such DVDs is a turnoff as well. This is the same reason Amy Dixon: Breathless Body beats out Insanity (*Est. $20), which is a cardio-based workout series. Breathless Body simply presents the best value.
Users also like the exciting energy and supportive attitude of Amy Dixon. Another very popular trainer is Jillian Michaels. Users enjoy her tough-love style and say her instruction is spot-on. Reviewers think Jillian Michaels: Ripped in 30 (*Est. $15) is an effective program for losing weight and toning muscle. However, the short, circuit-based routines in Ripped in 30 are too advanced for the average beginner.
While they are arguably more fun, many users agree, dance-inspired DVDs, such as Bollywood Booty (*Est. $15), do not produce the same calorie burn as cardio-specific exercise videos.