• Continued from last week
A simple way to increase intensity and add challenge to your workouts is to incorporate long jumps. With long jumps, you simply jump forward as far as you can, landing with both feet. You’ll feel your core working hard on this exercise as well as your heart.
To keep this move safe, land with soft knees. If you need to modify, try a staggered landing (one foot lands a bit before the other one). As always, skip this move if you feel pain or discomfort.
This move can be hard on the knees, so try landing with the weight in your heels and keeping the jumps short at first.
Stand with feet together and make sure you have plenty of space in front of you. Lower into a squat and jump forward as far as you can in an explosive movement. Land with bent knees, to protect the joints. Jump forward again, continuing for the length of the room, turning around and going the other way.
Repeat for 30-60 seconds. Add this move at the end of your regular cardio workout for an added boost, or do it a few times during your workout whenever you want to add intensity or mix things up.
Plyo jacks or plyometric jumping jacks, are another option for getting the heart rate up and challenging the body in a whole new way. Plyo jacks are like very slow jumping jacks. You jump out, just as you would in a jumping jack, but slow things down and add a deep squat.
When you jump your feet back together, you land in another deep squat to challenge your hips, glutes thighs and, of course, your heart rate. Circling the arms adds some intensity to the move as well.
Begin with feet together and lower into a squat, bringing the arms in front of you. Jump the feet out, landing in a squat and circling the arms up and over the head. Jump up once again, bringing the feet together and circling the arms back down. Add this move at the end of your regular cardio workout for an added boost, or do it a few times during your workout whenever you want to add intensity or mix things up.
Plyo lunges are another great plyometric move that will help build power and strength in the lower body. It’s also excellent for burning calories, getting the heart rate up and working the hips, glutes and thighs. This high impact, high intensity exercise is challenging, so stick with static lunges if this move is too much for you.
Stand in a split stance, right leg in front and left leg in back. Bend your knees and lower into a lunge, keeping the front knee behind the toe. In an explosive movement, jump into the air and switch your legs, landing so that the left leg is in front and the right leg is in back. Land with soft joints, lower into a lunge and repeat, jumping and switching sides. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 10-60 seconds
Jogging in place
Jogging in place is one of the simplest ways to get the heart rate up if you’re stuck inside. It doesn’t have the same intensity as jogging outside, since there’s no forward motion and no wind resistance, but you can still get the heart rate up by using your arms and working as hard as you can. You can also add some forward motion by jogging around the house or up and down the stairs.
Begin by marching in place, lifting the knees and swinging the arms. Move into a light jog, keeping the feet close to the ground as you get a feel for the exercise. As you warm up, start bringing the heels towards the glutes each time you jog. Add intensity by pumping the arms overhead, jogging faster or raising the knees (see the Jogging with High Knees). Repeat for 30 seconds to as many minutes as you can. You can also do this exercise in a cardio circuit.
Jogging with high knees
Jogging in place is great, but if you want to add intensity, try to lift the knees high as you run. Bring your knees up to the hips if you can and you’ll engage the core as well as the quads and the hip flexors.
While jogging in place, lift the knees high each time you jog. Try lifting the knees to hip level if you can, keeping the core tight to protect the back. To make it even harder, hold the hands at hip level and try to touch your knees to your hands each time you jog. Bring the knees up towards the hands, rather than bringing the hands down to the knees. You can also add intensity by pushing the arms overhead.
Repeat for 30 seconds to as many minutes as you can. You can also do this exercise in a cardio circuit.
Front kick lunge
This is a great move for getting the heart rate up with no equipment needed. It’s low impact, but that doesn’t mean it’s low intensity. Adding a low lunge at the end while touching the floor will engage the glutes and thighs and help raise the heart rate.
Stand with feet about hip-width apart and bring the right knee up. Extend the right leg out into a front kick, but avoid locking or hyper-extending the knee. Bring the leg back and immediately take it behind you into a straight-leg reverse lunge, keeping your balance on the left leg (if you can). Lunge as low as you can, touching the floor with your fingertips. Stand up, bring the right leg forward again and kick.
Repeat the kick and low lunge sequence for one minute and repeat the sequence on the other side for one minute.
Speed skaters are great for getting the heart rate up and for working the body with lateral movement, something we often don’t spend much time doing.
This move is not only great for the heart, it targets the outer thighs as well. This is a great compliment to exercises that have you going forward and back such as long jumps. Start with the feet together and jump to the right, as far as you can. Land on the right foot and cross the left foot behind you for a balance challenge. Now jump to the left, again taking a very wide step, and land on the left foot.
Continue going from one side to the other, trying to keep the movement low and wide rather than jumping up in the air. Continue alternating sides for 30-60 seconds.
Add this move at the end of your regular cardio workout for an added boost, or do it a few times during your workout whenever you want to add intensity or mix things up.
Modified mountain climbers
Mountain climbers are great for both cardio and core strength but what if you’re not ready for that level?
One way to easily modify mountain climbers is to elevate the upper body, which will take some of the weight off your arms and place it on the lower body, which is stronger.
As you build upper body and core strength, try this move with the hands on the floor.
Stand in front of a raised platform of some kind – a weight bench, a step (as shown), a chair or even a railing. Place your hands on the platform just wider than the shoulders and walk the feet out so that your back is straight – kind of like a pushup position. Bring the right knee in towards the platform while keeping the rest of the body in place. Take the right leg back and switch sides, bringing the left knee towards the platform. Continue alternating knees, speeding up if you can. Complete 1-3 sets, going for 30-60 seconds each time.
This move is different from plyo-lunges in that you don’t switch the feet in the air, but stay on the same leg. This move will build lots of power and strength in the lower body while increasing the heart rate and intensity. The key is to land softly. Try to absorb the impact with your muscles, rather than your joints.
Begin in a staggered stance, right foot forward and left foot back. Bend the knees into a lunge, going as low as you can, but not past 90-degrees. Spring up into the air as high as you can, keeping the hands on your hips or taking them up in the air for more intensity. Land softly on the balls of your feet and lower back into your lunge. Complete 8-16 reps before switching sides.
Speed skaters with weights
Speed skaters are great for getting the heart rate up, but adding some light weights can add more intensity and put more emphasis on the glutes. Because you’re moving quickly, you don’t need heavy weights here. That can cause strain and injury. The idea is to add a little intensity with light weights so you get a little extra calorie-burn.
Start with the feet together and hold light weights in both hands. Take a wide lateral jump to the right while crossing the left foot behind you and bringing the left weight towards the floor. Keep the abs braced to protect the back. Push off the right foot and jump to the other side, taking the right weight towards the floor. Continue going from one side to the other for 1-3 sets, working for 30-60 seconds.
Jumping jacks with resistance band lat pullsJumping jacks are often a staple of any home cardio routine, but it’s easy to spice things up by adding some equipment. Adding a resistance band to traditional jumping jacks is a great way to add more intensity and engage the upper body, which always helps burn more calories. As you pull the band down, you engage the back, making this a multi-purpose exercise.
Hold a resistance band in both hands straight up overhead. Make sure your hands are close enough to get tension on the band when you pull it down, but not too tight. Jump the feet out in a jumping jack and, at the same time, open the band, pulling the elbows down to either side of the body. Focus on squeezing the back as you bring the arms down. Jump the feet back together as you take the arms back overhead and repeat for 60 seconds.
• Adapted from www.verywellfit.com