Sometimes, you cannot make it to the gym and only have thirty or so minutes to get in a good workout. At other times, you want to switch up your routine due to sagging motivation and boredom. That’s when an equipment-free, do at home or anywhere else workout comes in handy. I will always love the gym and lifting heavy but continuously doing the same thing can be detrimental to progress, hence I often mix in quicker, high-intensity workouts to ‘shock’ my muscles and build up endurance.
This workout is one of my favourites for many reasons and I wanted to share it with all of you to show that all you need to pursue fitness is yourself and a stopwatch. It is both beginner-friendly (perfect for anyone who is just starting their fitness journey and is yet to sign up for a gym membership) and can be made harder by adding a pair of dumbbells or ankle weights. I took this workout outside to embrace these last few days of bearable weather, but I am sure I would have managed in the limited space of my bedroom.
The circuits do not have to be done all together and can be mixed into a gym routine for some extra intensity. Be sure to include five or so minutes of dynamic stretching before and after the workout, modifying the exercises to suit your abilities (e.g. the plyometric exercises can be replaced with their ‘ordinary’ counterpart, such as squats instead of jumping squats) and keeping a water bottle on hand to stay hydrated. Just a quick disclaimer – I am not a personal trainer and you should consult your doctor before starting any exercise programme, so ensure you are in the correct state of health before doing this!
CIRCUIT 1: Complete each exercise for 45 seconds before resting for 15. Repeat circuit three times (12 minutes total)
Exercise 1: lunge with knee tuck.
- Start from a standing position. Step back into a lunge as demonstrated in the above photo, ensuring your knee doesn’t go over your toe. Push off the floor and lift your leg into a knee tuck until your thigh is at least parallel with the ground. Then, bring your foot back into a lunge and ensure it does not touch the floor throughout the transition.
Exercise 2: repeat on other leg.
- Start from a standing position, arms at your sides and feet shoulder width apart. Push your hips back and sit into a squat, before returning to standing. Then, return to a squat and jump off the floor as high as you can, ensuring your knees are not locked out when you land. Repeat the two motions until the 45 seconds are over. Adding some light dumbbels makes this much harder (the video I attached demonstrates the squat jump part of the exercise, so you essentially alternate between that and ordinary squats).
- Start in a high plank position, keeping your back straight and your shoulders pushed back. Run your left knee into your chest, before doing the same with your right one and repeat as quickly as possible. To make this harder, twist your knees to alternate elbows instead of straight into the chest.
CIRCUIT 2: Same as above – 45 seconds on, 15 seconds rest. Repeat 3 times (12 minutes total)
Exercise 1: in and out curtsy lunges.
- Start from a standing position. Bring your right leg back diagonally rather than in a straight line, lowering your hips into a lunge. Keeping low, bring your leg back in to a narrow squat, lift your hips up to a 45 degree angle and fall back into a squatting position. To keep up the intensity, make sure your knees are not locked out at any point throughout the motion.
Exercise 2: repeat on the other leg.
- Lay on the floor with your knees bent. Your feet should be hip width apart. Lift your glutes off the ground as high as possible, pausing at the top of the motion. Lift one of your heels off the ground and bring your knee in towards your chest, before bringing it back down and repeating the motion on the other leg.
- Starting from a low lunge position, jump off the ground and switch your feet in the air, landing in a lunge on the other side. Keep in mind that this is quite an advanced exercise so if you’re a beginner feel free to either rest or perform ordinary lunges instead.
CIRCUIT 3: 45 seconds on, 15 seconds rest. Repeat three times (9 minutes total).
Exercise 1: in and out squats.
- Start from a standing position with your feet shoulder width apart. Bring your right foot out and drop into a wide squat. Without locking out your knees, bring your foot back into a narrower squat. Repeat on the other side, making sure your knees are not locked out at any point throughout the 45 seconds.
- From a standing position, bring your palms to the ground and jump your legs back into a high plank position. Jump back in and return to a standing position. Then, bring your right knee up to hip height and quickly switch to your left knee before repeating four more times. To make this easier, step into the plank position as opposed to jumping and/or march in place instead of performing jumping high knees.
- Press your back firmly against a wall, with your feet on the ground shoulder width apart. Slide down the wall until your knees are bent to a ninety degree angle and are directly above your ankles. Hold this position, resting your hands on your shoulders or the wall. To make this harder, place a light dumbbell on your knees and if a wall is not available, hold a wide squat position instead.
Optional finisher/burnout: complete this circuit two or three times for an extra burn; however, if you do not have enough time, the above is sufficient if you push yourself!
- 15 straight leg kickbacks: Start with your palms and knees on the ground, keeping your back straight. Extend your right leg, placing your toe on the ground (as seen in my photo), before slowly lifting it as high as you can, pausing at the top of the range of motion for a second and lowering back down. Repeat 15 times.
- 15 quats into calf raises: Start with your feet wider than shoulder width apart and your toes turned out. Drop your hips into a wide squat, until your thighs are at least parallel with the ground. Return to standing and lift your heels off the ground, pausing for two seconds and lowering them back to the ground (the video I linked uses dumbbels but these are, once again, optional).
NOTE: although this workout is designed to be intense, make sure to keep each motion under control and maintain mind-muscle connection, i.e. concentrate on the muscles which are being targeted, instead of mindlessly going through the movements.
Let me know: did you all enjoy this style of post and if you did, what workout would you like to see next? And do you prefer exercising at the gym or at home/outdoors?
Love, Maria ♡