As a young athlete, you are required to remain in shape and boost the physical parameters that really matter.

This means you need to have high endurance, elevated VO2 max, and potent muscle tonicity. The best way to achieve all of this while optimizing the function of your organs is by doing cardio exercises.

In this article, we will cover some of the best cardiovascular exercises that optimize the performance of a young athlete. Note that our choices are based on recommendations from famous sports medicine references.

The best cardio exercises for young athletes

Jumping rope

Most of us enjoyed jumping rope as kids. However, those childhood memories make some people believe that jumping rope is a fun, effortless activity.

In reality, performing this exercise in the correct form is one of the best exercises you can do to stay in shape. It causes substantial calorie-burning and increases VO2 max.

You see, jumping rope recruits the entirety of your muscles, with a special focus on the lower extremities. This is important since the muscles of your legs are very large, which dramatically boosts your endurance.

In order to contract, the muscles need a lot of energy, which translates to burning 7.6–9.8 per minute.

Even better, jumping rope does not require any fancy equipment or a large space. You can use any cable at home and perform this exercise whenever and wherever.


Another fantastic exercise for young athletes is burpees.

This exercise boosts your cardiovascular system, making your heart more adaptable to big physiological stress. As a result, your performance in competitions will significantly improve.

Burpees also contribute to muscle growth, which is another important feature to keep in mind. Lifting big weights is not always a good idea, especially for athletes in certain fields (e.g., footballers, basketball players, tennis players).

You should know that performing burpees for one minute is enough to turn your muscles on fire; however, it is very worth it.

High knees

High knees improve your endurance and coordination. It is the go-to exercise for many athletes who are preparing for an upcoming competition.

Here is how to do high knees:

  • Stand in a neutral position with both hands extended forward (palms facing down) and arms stuck to your sides.
  • Bring your right knee to your right palm, then immediately drive your left knee to your left palm.
  • Repeat this exercise until you feel exhausted.
  • You can increase the intensity of this exercise by speeding up.

Alternating jump lunge

  • Stand in a neutral position, then step your right leg backward and duck down into a lunge position.
  • You should keep both your legs at a 90-degree angle.
  • Jump into the air and switch between the legs.
  • Repeat this exercise as fast as possible.

Takeaway message

Young athletes need to stay active even outside of competitions to maintain their fitness and prepare for future events.

We hope that this article served as a mini-guideline for aspiring young athletes who want to make it in the world of sports.


Here’s to your health!

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Disclaimer:  This information is provided as an educational service only, and is not intended as a substitute for medical advice.  Anyone seeking specific medical advice or assistance should consult his or her doctor or orthopedic surgeon.