Otherwise titled ‘Why You Should Leave High-Intensity Training To The Experts – Part Two’
In a perfect world we’d all train 3-5 times each week, for 40-60 minutes. We’d hit the weights room hard, sneak in a little HIIT training to blast off fat, and even get outdoors for the occasional hill sprint or park jog. Maybe we’d even play sport for fun as well. What an idea!
But life isn’t perfect, is it? Even if you have the inclination to train like that it just may not be possible. And even once you figure out how much time you can truly designate for exercise there’s the whole issue of how you should best use your time. You know you should be working hard and yet every time you try to get help from a professional you’re told to ease into it, take it slow. Walk, and maybe do some machine weights. And we all know that this sort of nice-‘n’easy approach just doesn’t work. I wrote about this last week in my post ‘Why You Should Leave High-Intensity Training To The Experts – Part One‘. So what are you to do then?
Well, the truth is that as much as many of us occasionally enjoy extra hours in, truly effective exercise doesn’t absolutely have to take loads of your precious free time. And nor does it require you to train at a gym. If it’s not realistic for you to get there you can still make a difference at home or on the go.
So if you:
- Are a busy Mum
- Are someone who doesn’t like the gym or simply can’t get there
- Travel frequently and need a solid routine that will fit into a typical hotel room (’cause we know how shocking most hotel gyms are)
- Are keen to get in shape, increase strength and muscle tone and burn fat without doing hours of useless cardio
- Want to cut through the BS about true results-based training and how to both regress/progress a workout for your needs
Then this is the post for you. But first, let’s get real about what you need. It sure isn’t spandex and a full at-home weights room, and you won’t even need to invest in an expensive treadmill or bike for later use as a garage dust-collector, but here’s what I would suggest:
- A space at least 1.5 metre square
- Your own body weight to start with, and either some free weights for progression or old 2 litre water bottles filled with small pebbles/sand/water.
- Ideally an exercise ball suited for your height, although you can manage without this
- A skipping rope would be great, and is easy to travel with
- Therabands are useful for replicating gym-cables and as an alternative to dumbells
The following strength circuit is one I successfully use with many of my Mums and clients who work from home or travel often. I also use it myself as a back-up workout if I can’t get to the gym or sometimes when I’m on holiday (if I can be bothered working out then!) It’s simple, it works you from top to toe, and you need minimal equipment to do it. And it’s guaranteed to work! I’ve had clients noticeably shrink and tighten after doing it for as little as 2 weeks.
One quick heads-up: if you’re looking for a fancy and detailed outline of creating your own program you’d best head over here. The following workout doesn’t have any bells or whistles and you may well have seen it all before but the only question that matters is if you’re actually doing anything about it.
Part One: 11-Minute Strength-Circuit
The basis of any good program is strength training, due to it’s many benefits on the metabolism and overall health, along with its ability to give you a lean and toned look. This approach will ensure you work your muscles at the same time as getting your heart rate up and a bit of a sweat happening.
1) Squat and press. Hold a weight in each hand just above your shoulders. Keep your chest up, eyes straight ahead. Perform a sitting down movement while keeping your back straight. As you stand up, push the weights overhead and together above your head. Repeat 12 times, aiming for each repetition to take 6 seconds. Take between 0 and 30 seconds rest depending on what you feel you need to maintain good control of your body.
Then move straight into 2) Lunge and curl. Hold a weight in each hand with your arms hanging by your sides. Keep your back straight, eyes and chest pointing straight ahead. Take a big step forward and bend both your front and knee. Your back knee should nearly hit the floor and your torso should remain upright. Keep your back foot still and use your front heel to push you up. As you do this, curl the weights from your sides to the front of your shoulders. Lower back down and repeat on the other leg. Do 12 on each leg. Each repetition should take 6 seconds.
Take between 0 and 30 seconds rest depending on what you feel you need to maintain good control of your body then move onto 3) Push ups with leg lift. Push ups are an easy exercise to cheat on. Avoid this by keeping your tailbone, mid-back and head all in one line. Eye gaze should be just ahead of you, and your belly button should be vacuumed to your spine. Don’t be afraid to admit you need to do them on your knees to start with. Keep your back straight as you lower your body toward the floor, pulling your shoulder-blades back together. Tighten your tummy to help you push back up, lifting one leg (or knee) as you do so. Repeat 12 times. Each repetition should take 4 seconds.
Finally, 4) perform a plank hold either on your ball (feet on ball, hands on floor), or on the floor holding your body weight in a bridge. Do this face down, with your back straight and your abs pulled in. Hold for 30 seconds minimum. Up to 2 minutes will stretch things out time-wise and really work your abs, but make sure your lower-back isn’t arching out.
In total, and accounting for an average amount of rest between exercises, this routine will take you between 5 and 5.5 minutes. Once you’ve gone through once, repeat the whole thing straight away. Total? 11 minutes of muscle-toning action.
Part Two: 4-Minute HIIT Training (Tabata)
After all that slow’n’focused work, it’s time to jazz things up. Tabata training is one method of HIIT training and is absolutely incomparable for its ability to get you working to your max in the shortest possible period of time. The best part? You don’t even need any equipment.
Here’s how it works. You’ll use a stopwatch to perform 8 rounds of 20 seconds intense exercise, with 10 seconds rest in between. Total? 4 minutes, and if you do it right you should be on the floor by the end. Here are some suggestions for at-home tabatas:
- Fast skipping
- Jumping jacks
- Jogging on the spot, or sprinting around your yard
- Squat jumps or lunge jumps if your body is okay with plyometric work
- Body throws (throw your body down on the floor face down and then jump/stand back up as quick as you can)
4 minutes might not sounds like much, but believe me – this one is killer! If you’re super keen you can rest for 4 minutes after doing this, and then repeat. Alternatively you might like to perform 3 rounds of the above circuit. Aim to get through the whole routine at least 3 times each week, but heck it’s only 15 minutes so why not do it every day?!
Life is Now. Press Play.
Please drop me a comment and let me know how you go. I’d also love to hear your ideas for other at-home tabata exercises, or for on-the-go workout ideas.
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