Seems like everyone is trying to get back to the gym and get in shape. And, as is often the case, a lot of those people want to try the latest and trendiest workout. One of the hottest trends in workouts these days comes under the general heading of cross training.
Please don’t make the mistake of calling any cross-training workout, CrossFit, as that name is actually a trademark of Crossfit, Inc. This type of training, combines cardio, strength, abdominal and flexibility training all in the same high-intensity workout. A cross training session should last about 45 minutes, not including warm-up and cool-down.
The problem with most cross training workouts is they require a lot of expensive equipment or a gym membership. You will see training sessions described with dumbbells, body bars, jump ropes, kettle bells, medicine balls, and more. But what if you just want a good cross training workout without all the fancy equipment? This article will describe a great, heart-revving workout you can do at home or in a hotel room.
The following is a list and description of every exercise used. While most everyone knows what a push-up or jumping jack is, you will want to read the description anyway. Proper form will be discussed as well as alternatives to accommodate those with particular problems such as bad knees, or those just starting out.
• March – Pretty basic; just march in place. The key is to keep moving, swing your arms and begin practicing proper form. This means shoulders up and square, abs and glutes held tight with your neck and head straight.
• Run in Place – Use the same form, but pick those feet up and employ a running motion. Maintain good form, but stay loose. If you have knee or other impact issues, just speed up the march tempo and don’t run.
• High Knee – Running in place, but with more intensity. The key here is to get those knees up close to your chest as you run in place. The modified version is to continue marching, but pick the knees up as far as possible.
• Jumping Jacks – The basic side, straddle, hop movement we all loved at school. Be sure and maintain the same proper form that carried through the previous exercises. If you can’t jump, maintain the same upper body motion as a normal jumping jack, but alternate stepping out to the side with each foot.
• Jump Rope – What? Jump rope without equipment? That’s right. For this exercise, you will keep your feet together and move your arms just as if you had a jump rope. Keep the jumps small and quick and don’t stop moving your arms. For a low impact version, use the same steps you used in the Jumping Jacks, but move your arms like a jump rope.
• Crunches – A new and kinder sit-up. Rather than the full sit-up you did in school, this one just raises the shoulders off the ground. Lay on your back with your feet flat on the ground and your knees bent. Place your fingertips gently behind your ears with your elbows extended straight out. Without bending your neck, lift your head and shoulders off the ground a few inches. You should feel the pull in your abdomen. Relax into the starting position and repeat.
• Mountain Climbers – A great full body workout. Begin in a push-up position. Bring one knee forward into your chest. Now alternate the forward knee so you are running with your legs and feet. Keep your back up and straight and your eyes forward.
• Bicycles – Begin in the basic crunch position. Bring one of your knees in toward your chest and bring the opposite elbow up to meet it. Now alternate with the opposite knee and elbow. Your lower legs should maintain a cycling motion with the knee coming tight into the chest and then extending straight out, with neither foot touching the ground. Your shoulders will stay off the ground with your elbows alternating touching the opposite knee.
Necessary Reading: HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) – Excercising Amped Up
• Pushups – Another standard which should require no introduction. The main things to remember are to keep your hands under your shoulders, your glutes tight and in line with a straight back and legs, and keep your head up. Look straight ahead, not down. If you can’t handle traditional pushups, put your knees on the ground and just work your arms as normal.
• Plank – The same starting position as a pushup, but with a plank, you hold the position for a period of time. Use the same modification you did for a pushup if you need to. You can also come down and rest on your elbows rather than keep your arms straight.
• Lunges – In this exercise, you are standing with your upper body straight. Step back with one foot and flex both knees, almost to a sitting position. The front knee should be at a ninety-degree angle with the knee not extending out over the toes. The back knee is bent to a lesser degree to allow the front knee to bend. Alternate between legs. You can step backwards into the lunge or forward, whichever is more comfortable, but lunging back is generally easier to avoid over-extending the front knee.
• Squats – Just like it sounds, but form is important. Simply squat down like you are going to sit in a chair. The key again is to not allow your knees to extend over your toes. Once you get into the squat, you should be able to raise your toes off the ground with all the weight on your heels. It should be more pushing your glutes back into the squat than just dropping down. Keep your upper body erect with head up. Stand back up and repeat
• Burpees – A whole body exercise your father probably called squat thrust. Start in the pushup position. Bring both knees in quickly to your chest and then just as quickly jump into a standing position. Immediately squat back down, put your hands flat on the ground and thrust your feet back into the pushup position and repeat. If you need to reduce impact, stand rather than jump up.
• Jumping Lunges – Exactly the same as the lunge described above, but instead of stepping out of the lunge and then alternating legs, you jump as you alternate legs. So instead of coming to a standing position between each lunge, you jump, alternating the back leg with each jump.
• Squat Jumps – A similar variation with the squat. Instead of rising up out of each squat, you jump, landing back into the squat position. It is important to maintain good form in the squat, and each landing should be soft, landing on the balls of your feet before immediately dropping into the squat.
Those are the basic exercises. Now you just need the workout. Begin by warming up. Do the first five exercises for 1 or 2 minutes each to get loosened up and get your heart rate going. Next, alternate between strength, abs and cardio for 30 seconds to 1 minute each, with little or no time between each exercise. Make sure you go through all the exercises on the list.
For cardio, alternate each time between the same ones you used for a warm-up. For abs, alternate between the crunches, bicycles and mountain climbers. For the strength part, go through the remaining exercises in order, then start over. The entire set, not including the warm-up, should last for 45 minutes. Make sure and do some slow marching and stretching when you are done to cool down.