Sometimes it seems that the workouts that are on posted on the internet come in two categories. Either they are basic, step by step tutorials for beginners, safe but maybe a little bland. Or you look at the workout and say, “that’s crazy!”
Now, I don’t mean crazy in any kind of derogatory way. Not at all, many of these workouts are safe, fast, intense, and effective. And heck, I’ve posted a few myself.
But, not all of us want to do 100 Burpees. Twice. Or split squat jumps or mountain climbers. Some of us don’t want to move at the speed of light, powering through a workout in 30 seconds or less.
You may be looking for a workout that is functional, effective, but doesn’t leave you on the floor panting when you’re finished. Again, not that there is anything wrong with that. But if you’re looking for something a little saner than leap frog squats, you’ve come to the right place.
Don’t think that you’re getting off easy though. This functional workout will challenge you and has progressions to make it adaptable for all levels. All you need are a stability ball, medicine ball, and a pair of dumbbells. Perform the workout circuit style, moving from exercise to exercise with minimal rest. At the end of the set, take a short break, then you can repeat if you like. Beginners can do one set and get an effective workout. To advance, you can add more weight, more sets, or follow the progressions below. Just don’t do all the advancements in one day!
Squat w/Med Ball Raise
Beginners: With your feet hip width apart, hold the medicine ball in front of you as you squat. As you stand up, raise the medicine ball above your head.
To Advance: 1) As you rise, lift one knee and pause to balance for several seconds. 2) Use a heavier medicine ball. 3) As you squat, touch the medicine ball to your knee, alternating sides (make sure to keep your spine neutral..don’t round your back).
Unilateral Chest Press
Beginners: Lie in a bridge position on a stability ball, with your head resting on the ball, your hips lifted and your core engaged. Hold the dumbbells with your palms forward and your elbows at about 90 degrees. Press up with your right arm bringing the weight above your chest. Return to the starting position. Press up with your left arm bringing the weight above your chest. Return to your starting position. Complete the movement with one arm before starting with the next.
To Advance: 1) Use heavier weights. 2) Start the exercise with both weights at the top of movement. You will hold one arm extended over your chest while you do the press with the other. Again, complete the movement with one arm before starting with the next.
Beginners: Holding the medicine ball in both hands step forward into a lunge with your right leg. As you do so, twist to the right (about two or three o’clock). Keep your spine neutral (don’t round your back). Make sure that your toes point forward, your knees stay behind and in line with your toes. You should be twisting only at the waist. Step back. Step forward with your left leg, twisting to the left. Step back.
To Advance: 1) Use a heavier medicine ball. 2) Define each movement by stepping forward with your right leg into your lunge, then twist right, return to center, then step back. Repeat on each side.
Beginners: Sit on a chair or bench with your hands on either side of your hips. Scoot forward until your bottom is right on the edge of the bench, then walk your feet out until your knees are at about 90 degrees. Slide your bottom the rest of the way off the bench, then bend your elbows, lowering your hips several inches. Straighten out your elbows to return to the starting position. Don’t sit back on the bench until you have completed your repetitions.
To Advance: 1) Walk your feet farther away from the bench. 2) Stack your feet one on top of the other. 3) Elevate your feet, either on bench or a stability ball.
One leg deadlift w/dumbbell row
Beginners: Holding a dumbbell in each hand, stand and shift your weight onto your right leg. Start to bend at the hips, keeping the spine neutral and allowing the left leg to extend behind you. Bend over as far as you can with good form, the perform the row by bending your elbows and lifting the weights, squeezing the shoulder blades. Slowly release then return to an upright position. If you are doing one set of the circuit, switch legs halfway through. If you are doing two or more sets, alternate legs in each set. If you’re doing an uneven number of sets, repeat on the less dominant leg.
To Advance: 1) Increase the weight. 2) Bend a little deeper (maximum would be your upper body and lifted leg are parallel to the ground).
Beginners: Sit on the ground with your legs out in front of you and your knees bent. Keeping your spine neutral (don’t round your back), start to angle back a few inches, until you feel your abdominal muscles engage. Hold this position. Holding the medicine ball out in front of you, alternate twisting to the right and left with control.
To Advance: 1) Use a heavier medicine ball. 2) Elevate your feet while you do the exercise (watch your spinal position). 3) Perform the exercise sitting on a stability ball.
Knee Lift w/lateral raise
Beginners: Stand with a dumbbell in each hand, elbows slightly bent. Lift your arms to the side to shoulder height. As you do so, bring up one knee. Hold for two seconds, then lower your arms and your knee. Continue, alternating knees.
To Advance: 1) Use heavier weights. 2) Do a Shoulder Press instead of the lateral raise. 3) Close your eyes as you perform the exercise.
Plank (with progressions)
Beginners: Do a forearm plank, keeping your body in alignment. When you can hold the plank with good form for a minute, try some progressions: Move your feet, out out, in in, without losing form. Try jumping jack feet. Move from plank to side plank, alternating sides.
Does this need instructions? Just make sure that you’re not pulling on your head and neck. Relax your head into your hands, keep your elbows aligned with your ears.
Note: I really don’t think that all workouts on the internet are either crazy or bland. There are tons of fun, safe, effective, non-crazy workouts out there. My statement was a generalization used as the opening sentence of my post to engage the reader (you). And you know what they say about generalizations.
Disclaimer: Although I am a certified Coach and Personal Trainer, I am not YOUR Coach or Personal Trainer. Always adapt workouts to suit your body and fitness level. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.
Crazy or Sane (or a combination of both)? What is your favorite workout?