When you’re just getting started, your home workouts probably consist of jumping on your favorite piece of equipment and seeing what you can do for 20 minutes at a time. While that approach will support your cardiovascular health and help you to burn a few calories, for improved performance and fat loss, it’s important to change up your programming. To help you out, here are a few go to workouts that will get you through your training week.
The Workout: Strength and Cardio Circuit
Why: If you only have time for a couple of workouts this week, sneak this one in twice. You can do fewer circuits if you’re short on time and still train your entire body while pushing your metabolism and energy levels into high gear following your workout.
How: After an easy five minute warm-up, alternate circuits of strength training and cardio exercise, one minute of work and 30 seconds of rest. A good circuit might include bodyweight squats, followed by push-ups (you can use your knees or the wall if needed), stepping lunges, a row using dumb bells or a resistance band, one minute of intense effort on your home exercise equipment, and finishing with core work, such as a plank or leg extensions. That is one circuit. During your minute of work, work as hard as possible before taking 30 seconds of rest and going to your next exercise. Each full circuit will take less than ten minutes, including rest time. With a warm up and cool down you can train your entire body in less than 20 minutes.
Workout 2: Intervals
Why: For the biggest benefit from cardiovascular training, intervals are your best friend. By pushing to your maximum effort, you increase calorie burn and your body’s response to training.
How: While any workout in which you vary intensity is technically an interval session, alternating the length and intensity of your peaks can keep your workout interesting and your motivation high. One of my favorites is to work up to five minute pushes by starting with one minute of effort followed by a minute of rest, two minutes of effort, two minutes of rest, etc. until you reach five minutes. Keep an eye on your calorie counter and try to beat your number the next time you do this work out. This also is a great one to do with a partner, as one of you can rest while the other works. If you really want to blast this workout, finish with eight minutes of circuits: 5 push-ups, 5 squats, and 1/8 mile of sprints as one circuit.
Workout 3: Endurance
Why: Endurance training teaches your body to recover better and to work more efficiently. That can improve your performance during your next road race or run/walk.
How: The toughest part to endurance training is keeping yourself from working too hard. Using your heart rate monitor, keep your heart rate between 65% and 75% of your maximum heart rate for at least twenty minutes and not longer than one hour (unless you’re training for a marathon event). You might find that it’s harder to keep your heart rate below this threshold than you expected, causing you to reduce the incline or speed from your usual workouts. While it can be hard to do this at first, after a few weeks you will become more efficient and able to return to a higher intensity with less effort.
Alternate these three workouts throughout your training week to address all areas of strength and cardiovascular conditioning. Your home exercise equipment, a resistance band, and a timer are the only equipment you need. You can adapt each workout to your comfort level and training ability by decreasing your level of effort. So next time you’re wondering what to do for a workout, head over to your favorite piece of equipment knowing you have a plan!
About the writer: Joli Guenther is a certified personal trainer, yoga instructor and clinical social worker practicing in and around Madison, Wisconsin. Learn more about Joli.