This option does require specialist equipment but exercise bikes are a superb tool for safe and effective interval training. Low impact, easily scaled to all fitness levels and perfect for people who are exercising indoors where there is no space to sprint. Start pedaling at an easy resistance to prepare your body for the interval sprints ahead. When you are ready increase speed, resistance (or ideally both) and go flat out for your target period of time. Rest then repeat
Ginga is a simple capoeira move which tests your balance and coordination whilst gently raising your heart rate without overly taxing any one muscle group. It’s like a low impact version of jogging on the spot and makes a great active recovery compliment to more intense interval exercise.
Similar in performance to the horizontal chest press only this time you push the bands out on an incline. This provides a different stimulus to the working muscles of the chest, shoulders and arms and is good for training variety. You will need to anchor the bands in a lower position to perform this movement effectively.
The Pike Up is a fantastic exercise for your mid-section, it will also ask questions of your upper body strength and flexibility. To perform this version of the Pike Up you will need to have a pair of fitness sliders, furniture sliders or even a skateboard to place under your feet.
Start in the push up position with your feet on some sort of slider
Your body should be long and straight and your core muscles tensed
Don’t let your lower back cave in
Keeping your legs straight pike your body up so your feet come towards your hands
Go as far as your strength and flexibility will allow
Slowly and under control lengthen your body back to the starting position
Maintain tension in the whole body, particularly your glutes and abs
Don't let your lower back and hips collapse downwards
Burpees are the classic bodyweight exercise for cardio conditioning. Quickly moving your body from horizontal to vertical recruits muscles from head to toe which your heart and lungs must work hard to support. Over the years I’ve found performing burpees using blocks or books allows for much smoother movement, reduced impact forces and better biomechanics without sacrificing cardio benefits.
Starting in a push up position
Raise your hands on blocks if you want to make the exercise easier
Jump your feet forwards between your hands
Stand up tall then reach back down and jump your feet back to the start position
You should aim to move as quickly and quietly as possible
To increase the intensity of the exercise add a vertical hop as you stand
Be aware this does increase impact forces and is not necessary for cardio benefits
You can also increase the intensity by adding a push up at the bottom of the move
This challenging core exercise targets the abs and obliques and demands good full body strength to perform successfully.
- Place one forearm flat across the line of your chest
- Reach under your body with the other arm
- Rotate your whole body and sweep your arm vertically overhead
- As you rotate allow your feet to pivot onto their sides
- Smoothly rotate back to the start position and repeat
- Be sure to work both sides evenly
A fun movement which will challenge your arms, legs and coordination whilst getting the heart racing. Don’t worry if you are limited on space, simply shuttle forwards and backwards.
- Start on all fours with your hands underneath your shoulders and your hips and knees bent to 90 degrees
- You should be balanced on your hands and toes with your knees just off the floor
- Begin the movement by moving your left arm and right leg forwards, plant and then repeat with the opposite arm and leg
- Continue moving forwards in this fashion until you run out of space at which point either turn around or simply reverse the movement and bear crawl backwards
- Throughout the exercise keep your spine in neutral (don’t let your hips pike up skywards or let your spine twist)
- Try to keep your limbs moving in unilateral rhythm i.e. left arm working with right leg
The Bulgarian Split Squat is a demanding one leg squatting variation where you rear foot rests on an elevated surface. To increase the challenge simply hold a weight in each hand.
- Place your rear foot on a stable surface (not too high)
- Hold onto a solid object for balance if needed
- Keep your front heel grounded as you lower
- Keep your knee tracking in line with your toes
- Allow your rear knee to drop down towards the floor
- Keep your front shin upright
- Drive up to the starting position using your front leg
- Hold weights in each hand to increase the challenge
- Keep a strong, neutral spine throughout
- Leaning torso forwards will increase hip recruitment
The one arm row is an excellent exercise for the arms and upper back. Support your body with one arm and knee on a raised bench, the second leg providing stability from the floor. Use the working arm to grip onto a weight and keeping a flat, neutral spine pull the weight vertically upwards. Pause at the top of the movement then lower under control to the starting position.
The classic strength endurance exercise for the torso. The plank hold helps build stability around your mid-section and is a boring yet useful exercise. Position yourself on your forearms and toes with a neutral spine then brace your mid-section plus glutes and hold for time. In the example above I am adding some additional tension by squeezing my elbows towards my toes and my toes towards my elbows.
This static hold is great for building a base of strength and endurance in the legs (particularly the quads.) With your back pressed into a wall slide down until your knees and hips are at an approximate 90 degree angle. Your shins should be vertical. Hold for as long as possible. To make the exercise harder simply hold weights in each hand. Since this is a very quad dominant move try to balance it out with some hip and hamstring dominant exercises e.g. bridges.
A functional lower body exercise which strengthens all your major leg muscles. To make the movement more challenging you have three simple options. Increase the height of the step and thus the range of motion, hold onto a weight in each hand or do both.
Find a stable elevated surface
The higher the surface, the harder the exercise
Place your whole working foot onto the surface
Using the working leg alone, drive up to the standing position
Either bring your rear foot to rest on the elevated surface (easier),
Or let it rest just off the back(harder)
Or drive your rear knee up and through (harder still)
Reverse the movement under control until your rear toes gently tap the floor
Try not to rest too much of your weight on the rear foot
Hold weights in each hand to ramp up the intensity
Performing classic push ups from gymnastics rings or a suspension trainer is a wonderful way to decrease stability and increase the intensity of this exercise. You can perform suspension push ups at an incline (easier) or with your body horizontal to the ground (harder)
An excellent arm developer which also requires a reasonable degree of full body tension to stabilize effectively.
- Lock a band against the floor with your feet
- Brace your torso and grip hold of the band
- Curl both arms by flexing at the elbow
- Keep both wrists in neutral alignment
- Keep your hands apart throughout
- Widen your feet to increase resistance
- Lower back to the start position and repeat
With Tube Resistance Bands...
Split Stance Band Curls
The Power Pull is a superb horizontal pulling movement. Perfect for building a strong upper back and powerful arms. These kinds of horizontal pulling movements are great for maintaining a level of structural balance to the upper body.
- Adopt a split stance with the opposite leg forwards
- Brace your body to create a solid platform to pull from
- Keep your spine tall and grip the band in one hand
- Make sure there is some tension on the band
- Powerfully pull the bands back
- Allow for a slight rotation in your torso as you pull
- Pull your elbow back past your torso
Climbers are a simple but effective torso exercise which target the hip flexors and core muscles. Effective in a circuit when done for high reps.
- Adopt a strong push up posture with hands under shoulders
- Maintaining this posture drive one knee up towards your chest
- Don’t let your foot touch the ground
- Reverse to the starting position then repeat with the other knee
- Maintain posture throughout the exercise
- Don't let your hips pike up or drop down
- Continue at a steady rhythmic pace
A good activation drill for the glutes, the basic bridge also helps stretch out the hip flexors which get short and tight when confined to a chair all day. Rather than passively perform this exercise engage the mind-muscle connection to fire your glutes as hard as you can!
Lie on your back, knees bent and your feet flat on the floor
Squeeze your glutes to lift your hips off the floor
Continue until they are fully extended
Your butt cheeks should be squeezed tightly together
Don't hyper-extend your hips
Only lift as far as you can by squeezing your glutes
Either hold at the top of the movement for time or repeat for reps
Can be performed with a wide, hip width or narrow stance
Sprinting is one of the most powerful and natural movement patterns which synergistically strengthens and conditions the muscles in the foot, lower leg, upper leg and hips whilst also providing a great cardiovascular workout. Whether it is 50m or 400m a couple of high intensity sprints will do wonderful things for your body composition and fitness. If it has been a long time since you last sprinted you will want to make sure you have a basic level of strength, mobility and fitness before easing your way back into this type of activity slowly and carefully.
The reverse lunge is a single leg squatting exercise which targets a large percentage of your lower body muscles. Weights can be held in each hand to increase the challenge of this exercise.
Start in the standing position
Take a big step back behind you with one leg
Drop straight down into the bottom of a lunge position
Your front heel should remain grounded and your shin tall
Your center of gravity should drop straight down, not back
Allow your arms to swing forwards (bodyweight variation)
Hold the bottom position for a few seconds to increase difficulty
Drive back up to the standing position using your front leg.
Keep your knees tracking in-line with your feet
Air Squats simultaneously target and strengthen all the muscles in the lower body and hips. Air Squats are also an excellent ankle, knee, and hip mobility drill. If you struggle with this exercise check out the chair squat variation demonstrated below.
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart or slightly wider
Toes should be pointing straight ahead or slightly out to the side
Descend into the squat by sitting back onto your hips
Imagine a rope tied around your waist pulling you backwards
Keep your heels grounded, shins tall and your knees tracking over your feet
Descend as low as your mobility allows then pause for a few seconds
Allow your arms to swing forward to act as a counter weight as you descend
Visualise pushing the floor away from you as you SLOWLY stand up tall
Squeeze your glutes (butt cheeks) as you stand up
To make the exercise harder go even slower and avoid fully extending the legs