Here are three free ways to spice up your workout and three ways that can spice it up even more but the second lot will cost you a few pounds. There are tons of ways that you can make your workout a little fresher and the only rule is to experiment.
It might be the timings that you play with – add a few sprints, repetitions, long endurance sessions, and short intense bursts. It could be exercises – use bodyweight, add kettlebells/Bulgarian bags/TRX, or do more challenging moves like burpees, a farmer’s walk, or rope climbing. Or perhaps the type of exercise – opting for strength training, cross fit, functional, complex, high intensity intervals, endurance training, contact sports, aerobics, bootcamps, or circuits.
The choices are endless so I am going to keep it simple and give you six moves every couple of weeks that could spice it up and build your repertoire of moves exponentially.
1) Repeat everything three times with varying or static quantities. The first lot should always push you the most. So a great example would be 75 burpess, followed by 50, followed by 25 to finish. Then you could do the same with squats/press-ups/tricep dips so you are adding a strength move to a cardio one. Scale it down or up to match your ability. If you are new to exercise aim for 10 burpees in each round or replace the burpee with a jumping squat. You could also go for 30 burpees, followed by 30 and finishing with 30. You control the level of challenge you set yourself.
2) A farmers walk is not used enough today considering how simple and effective it is. All you need is something heavy that you can ideally split in two so you can hold a weight in each arm for balance. You could also hold something above your head. The heavy weight puts stress on the core, working those stabilising muscles, and is also a great strength training exercise for the legs. You could fill up a couple of watering cans with water or sand, pick up a couple of dumb bells, hold up a tyre/chair/barbell above your head. The idea is to walk for as long as possible on a set course backwards and forwards or across a field with the heaviest weight you can manage. Then rest and repeat.
3) Put your workout into a pyramid. Choose 10 different exercises. Do the first one for 30 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds. Then do exercises 1 and 2 together. Then rest for 30 seconds. Then do exercises 1-3 together and rest for 30 seconds. Then exercises 1-4 with a 30 seconds rest. Do this all the way to 10 and rest for a minute before doing all 10 again. If you can throw in one more full set then give it everything you have got and call it a day on move 10. I would probably mix cardio and strength training and do: run on spot, press ups, squats, jumping jacks, jumping lunges, leg raises, plank with alternate arm row, tricep dips, burpees, back extensions. All body weight exercises, all free, and in combination a tough all-rounder.
And three slightly extravagant ways to spice up your workout:
1) Battling ropes: These are terrific at the end of any good strength training or cardio session and they are also a great substitute for your normal cardio regimes of running, boxing and HIIT drills. They have to attach to a strong and fixed point (ideally a wall bracket or a heavily weighted hook). The ropes are thick and reasonably heavy and just thread through the hook. Start with three moves, holding one end of the rope in each hand. First single arm waves and then double arm waves that send a ripple along the rope, then a jumping jack move that pushes the rope above your head and back down to your sides. Try 30 seconds – 1 minute of each and then repeat three times or just once at the end of a heavy workout. For more moves check out: www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bv4D7ii_0
2) Buy a sledgehammer and acquire a tractor tyre from somewhere (I find these fairly easy to come by if you just ask around). Start this slowly and build power and speed as you get used to the movement. Hold the hammer high up on your right with both hands in a staggered stance – the left gripping the end with the right gripping just above in a split grip. Bring the hammer down continuously for 30 seconds. Then change sides and change the hand grip/stance – repeat from this angle for 30 seconds. Then stand in a box stance and bring the hammer down from overhead for 30 seconds. Rest after each 1½ minute set and repeat anything from 3-8 times, depending on your endurance levels.
3) Get yourself some monkey bars and go back to your childhood. Admittedly you could just get a chin up bar outdoors or indoors but monkey bars are so much cooler. You can rehearse a Tough Mudder station by seeing how many lengths of the bars you can do and then try and beat that number. Perform sets of chin ups. Try some muscle ups where you pull your weight up and over the bar and then push up above it until your arms are straight beneath you. You can link your feet and hang upside down and try and crunch to touch your toes. Hang from your hands and swing your legs up/or knees up for intense ab options. In short these could be hours of fun and if you have children they will think it was bought for them – win win!
Yes in an ideal world I would own all of the above but in reality I do more of the first three pointers than the last three. We all have to have something to aim towards and there are an endless amount of homemade exercise aids that are far more cost effective and equally as good! Don’t rush out there buying gimmicks and branded products just because their marketing campaign tells you it’s the new best thing. Most of these exercise aids have been around for tens of years and it is just the design that someone has tweaked so that it is suddenly just a bit funkier and seemingly user friendly. Use your imagination and save some money.