WARM UP, CARDIO & GAMES
Since you’ll be pushing, pressing and twisting your body during the workouts, it’s very important to warm up before you stretch. Stretching prior to warming up can cause more damage than good to muscles, ligaments and joints. When your muscles are cold, they’re far less pliable and you don’t receive any benefit from stretching prior to warming up. Below are some dynamic warm-ups that will get your heart rate up, loosen tight muscles and prepare you for your workout.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
Move both arms in a complete circle forward 5 times and then backward 5 times.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and extend your hands overhead with elbows locked, fingers interlocked, and palms up.
Bend forward at the waist and try to put your hands on the ground (like you’re chopping wood). Raise up and repeat.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and extend your hands overhead with elbows locked, fingers interlocked and palms up.
Bend side to side.
Around the World
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and extend your hands overhead with elbows locked, fingers interlocked, and palms up. Keep your arms straight the entire time.
Bending at the hips, bring yourhands down toward your right leg and in a continuous circular motion bring your hands toward your toes, then toward your left leg and then return your hands overhead and bend backward.
Repeat three times, then change directions.
Stand tall with your feet together and arms extended along your sides, palms facing forward.
Jump 6–12 inches off the ground and simultaneously spread your feet apart an additional 20–30 inches while extending your hands directly overhead.
Jump 6–12 inches off the ground and return your hands and feet to starting position. Do 10 reps.
Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bring your arms in front of you and bend your elbows 90 degrees.
Twist your torso to the right and raise your left knee to your right elbow.
Repeat with your right knee and left elbow. A little hop with the bottom foot helps you keep your momentum going from leg to leg.
Do 10 reps on each leg.
After your workout, stretching will help you reduce soreness from the workout, increase range of motion and flexibility within a joint or muscle, and prepare your body for any future workouts. Stretching immediately post-exercise while your muscles are still warm allows your muscles to return to their full range of motion (which gives you more flexibility gains) and reduces the chance of injury or fatigue in the hours or days after an intense workout.
It’s important to remember that even when you’re warm and loose, you should never “bounce” during stretching. Keep your movements slow and controlled. The stretches in this section should be performed in order to optimize your recovery. Remember to exhale as you perform every deep stretch and rest 30 seconds in between each stretch.
Forearm & Wrist
Begin the stretch gently and allow your forearms to relax before stretching them to their full range of motion.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and extend both arms straight out in front of you. Keep your back straight. Turn your right wrist to the sky and grasp your right fingers from below with your left hand. Slowly pull your fingers back toward your torso with your left hand; hold for 10 seconds.
Swap arms and repeat.
Stand with your feet shoulder- width apart and bring your left arm across your chest. Support your left elbow with the crook of your right arm by raising your right arm to 90o. Gently pull your left arm to your chest while maintaining proper posture (straight back, wide shoulders). Don’t round or hunch your shoulders. Hold your arm to your chest for 10 seconds.
Release and switch arms.
After you’ve done both sides, shake your hands out for 5–10 seconds.
Shoulders & Upper Back
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and extend both arms straight out in front of you. Interlace your fingers and turn your palms to face away from your body. Keep your back straight.
Reach your palms away from your body. Exhale as you push your palms straight out from your body by pushing through your shoulders and upper back. Allow your neck to bend naturally as you round your upper back. Continue to reach your hands and stretch for 10 seconds.
Rest for 30 seconds then repeat. After you’ve done the second set, shake your arms out for 10 seconds to your sides to return blood to the fingers and forearm muscles.
Chest & Arms
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Maintaining a straight back, grab your elbows with the opposite hand. Slowly raise your arms until they’re slightly behind your head. Keeping your right hand on your left elbow, drop your left hand to the top of your right shoulder blade. Gently push your left elbow down with your right hand, and hold for 10 seconds.
Rest for 10 seconds and then repeat with opposite arms.
Clasp your hands together behind your lower back with palms facing each other.
Keeping an erect posture and your arms as straight as possible, gently pull your arms away from your back, straight out behind you. Keep your shoulders down. Hold for 10 seconds.
Rest for 30 seconds and repeat.
Lying face-down on your stomach, extend your arms along the floor above your head, palms on the ground. Keeping your knees straight, extend your legs behind you, keeping your feet close together and your toes on the ground.
In a slow, controlled motion, contract your lower back (erector spinae) and raise your arms and legs 6–8 inches off the floor. Hold for 5 seconds.
Lower slowly back to starting position. Repeat slowly 10 times.
Standing like a soldier (with your back straight, shoulders square and chest raised), slowly lower your left ear to your left shoulder.To increase the stretch, you may use your left hand to gently pull your head toward your shoulder. Hold for 5–10 seconds.
Slowly roll your chin to your chest and then lower your right ear to right shoulder. Again, you may use your hand to enhance the stretch. Hold for 5–10 seconds.
Return your head to normal position and then tilt back slightly and look straight up. Hold for 5–10 seconds
Starting Position: Lying on your stomach, place your hands directly under your shoulders with your fingers facing forward and straighten your legs and point your toes.
Exhale and engage your core while lifting your chest off the floor and pushing your hips gently into the floor. Your arms help guide you through the movement, and your elbows should remain slightly bent at the top of the extension and your hips should remain in contact with the mat. Hold the up position for 15 to 30 seconds and then gently roll your upper body back to the floor. Hold for 30 seconds
From a kneeling position, sit your buttocks back on your calves then lean forward and place your lower torso on your thighs. Extend your arms directly out in front of you, parallel to each other and lower your chest towards the floor. Reach your arms as far forward as you can and rest your forearms and hands flat on the floor.
Hold for 30 seconds
You gym teacher was right—you’ll use this exercise for the rest of your life. Don’t settle for just a boring old set of jumping jacks—add a twist, lunge or side-step and make it a full-body move. Check out “Marching Twists” below for another way to mix it up.
you out!Try timing yourself for a minute at normal intensity and then punch like crazy for the next 30 seconds. It’s amazing how exhausting yet cathartic it can be to get your aggressions out. The good news about shadow boxing is that your shadow won’t be punching you back, although after about three minutes of vigorous punches and footwork you might be wishing for someone to knock you out!
We all know that boxers jump rope as a way to improve their agility, timing and cardiovascular system as well as keep them lean, so why don’t you try it, too? There are many different variations like speed-step, crisscross, side swing, double under…so get a rope and get jumping!
Most building have these contraptions and most folks walk right past to grab the elevator. Since no one else seems to use them, make these your playground. Sprint up, walk down; take two steps at a time; bunny hop up with both feet together… whatever works for you as long as you’re careful and don’t take a tumble.
Can you do the can-can? With your arms at 90o, twist your torso and raise your left knee to your right elbow. Repeat with your right knee and left elbow… and put a little rhythm into it! A little hop with the bottom foot helps you keep your momentum going from leg to leg. Start slow and work up the intensity, even throw in some intervals (See “Music Intervals” below) to really raise your heart rate. Feel free to get creative, work in some lunges, jumping jacks and other moves and create your own aerobics routine!
Medicine Ball Tosses
The medicine ball, long a tool for doing core exercises, is fabulous as a game prop whether you do tosses by yourself by throwing the ball against the ground/ wall or toss back and forth with a partner. I recommend starting with a lighter weight and progressing to a heavier one as you’re able. (See 7 Weeks to Getting Ripped for examples.)
These are exactly as the name implies— squats where you catch some air. (Check out the description in Exercises)
This great, full-body workout can be done anywhere to work up a sweat and target your arms, chest, glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves and core.To spice it up, add a push-up, plank or mountain climbers when you’re in push-up position. (Check out the description in Exercises)
Choose a few different spots no farther than 25 yards apart. Set down a marker and alternate jogging, bounding, high knees, butt-kickers, cross-over side bounds and sprinting between each point. If you’re on a sports field or a flat, grass-covered surface, try sprinting barefoot, which has helped me strengthen my feet, ankles and calves.Take it easy at first! (See “Hot Corner” in Games.)
Treadmill Incline Intervals
Hop on a treadmill and start at 0 incline and a moderate speed. Every 2 minutes, raise the incline .5 and raise the speed by .5. See how high you can go! Also try doing “Music Intervals” (below) by raising the speed/incline each time your songs hit the chorus—be creative. Safety note: Never exceed a speed that you can handle and make sure you’re comfortable before attempting any high inclines and rates of speed.
Hit The Deck
Run in place for 30 seconds, drop to the ground with your chest flat on the floor, perform an explosive push-up and return to your feet and repeat. Decrease duration 5 seconds each repetition until you hit 0.
This can be done on any cardio equipment and also works great with all calisthenics and sprints. Pop your earphones in and crank the tunes. During the verses of the song, perform your exercise at moderate pace; when the chorus comes in, up your intensity to 80%. If you’re lucky enough to have a guitar solo, try and hit 100%!
All of the games provide a bit of everything you’ll need to get ripped so don’t fret over which is best; just find those that work for you and have fun with them. As time goes on, create your own and have even more fun! (Photos & details available in 7 Weeks to Getting Ripped)
The goal is to create as much distance between you and your partner by tossing
a medicine ball back and forth using a variety of throwing techniques.This involves a lot of jumping, squatting and twisting, so make sure you’re warmed up before attempting any of them. Safety note: NEVER try to catch a thrown medicine ball. Let it bounce, as all the instructions say to do!
Number of players: 2
Description: Using 4 cones, place 2 cones side by side and the other 2 about 10 feet apart. Stand next to a pair of cones and face your partner, who’s standing next to the other pair of cones. Choose who goes first. Begin tossing the ball as far as you can toward your partner’s cones.
(See the 10 different tosses in 7 Weeks to Getting Ripped)
Footballs, soccer balls, tennis balls, rugby balls or even Australian Rules footballs—we’ve experimented with each and love them all. The games you find here are a smattering of what’s possible when you use your imagination with what you have on hand. The rule to remember in this section is throw or kick the ball really far and run like hell after it.
TOSS & RUN
Number of players: 1
Description: Throw a medicine ball as far as possible using an underhand technique. Once the ball is released, sprint after it as fast as you can. Gather the medicine ball and throw again until you’ve reached the end of the field. Repeat with no rest, going back down the field to the starting position. Repeat as desired. Alternate medicine ball throws, too.
There’s no winner or loser in this game— just exhaust yourself and your partner.
Number of players: 2
Description: Both players start at an end line or cone. One person starts the game by throwing the medicine ball as far as possible using an overhand forward toss. Both players sprint after the ball as soon as it’s released. The non-tossing player gathers the ball and throws it farther down the field. The original tosser will already be sprinting past him to catch up with the newly thrown ball. Repeat up and down the field, changing directions as needed.
Alternate each toss as follows: Overhand Forward, Underhand Forward, Shot Put.
OUT & BACK SPRINTS
Win the game by being the last one standing.
Number of players: 2+
Description: Start with 2 players side by side at a pair of cones. One player tosses the ball using either an overhand forward, underhand forward or shot put toss. The other player sprints after the ball, picks it up over his head and sprints back with the ball overhead.Be careful and keep a good grip on the ball over your head. When the sprinter makes it back to the starting position, switch roles (if you have more than 2 players, just rotate so everyone gets a turn).The first one to call it quits loses.
TENNIS BALL TOSSES
I use this whenever I need to get a workout but am not motivated to do sprints.
Number of players: 1
Description: In any open, grassy field, throw a tennis ball as high and far as you can. As soon as you release it, sprint after it and try to catch it before it hits the ground. If you catch it before it bounces once, that’s 3 points. If it bounces once, give yourself 1 point. If it bounces more than once, you get zero for that toss. Play against yourself to 21 for a killer workout.
This is one of our “go-to” games to make sprinting and speedwork fun while still having an element of game play. An absolute blast with anywhere from 2 to 4 people (any more seems to get too chaotic), this is best played on a soccer field, but improvisation will allow nearly any grassy field to suffice.
Number of players: 2–4
Description: Everyone starts at the end line near a soccer goal. One person punts a football as far as he can, the rest sprint after the ball.The first person to touch the ball gains possession and the right
to attempt to score a goal. From where the ball was touched, the player gaining possession has two tries to score a goal by punting the ball downfield and then into the goal.Three points will be awarded if a goal is scored in one kick, one point if in two kicks. After a goal attempt is completed, a new round starts with the person gaining possession in the previous round as the new punter. An American football bounces so erratically you never know what’ll end up in the net!To make the game a little more predictable, use a soccer ball. To make it more international, use a rugby ball.
Ready for a great workout that’s essentially circuit training with a race element? Find a soccer field and a buddy and get ready!
Number of players: 1–8
Description: This is ideally played on a soccer field, though anywhere you can mark off stations will suffice. Break down the field into sections, each one for a specific movement. See the diagram (available in 7 Weeks to Getting Ripped) for a sample breakdown. This game/race is all about intensity, so get creative! Add a flight of stairs, a hill or anything else that strikes your fancy.
Station 1 is the starting and ending point. At each point on the field designated in the diagram, perform a specific movement type as quickly as possible and then move on to the next segment.
Stations 1–5 : Push-up movements
- Station 1: 10 Standard push-ups
- Station 2: 10 Diamond push-ups
- Station 3: 10 Wide push-ups
- Station 4: 10 Narrow push-ups
- Station 5: 10 Standard push-ups
Run 1–5 : Running movements
- Run 1: Run backwards from Station 1 to Core 1
- Run 2: High knees/plyo skips from Core 1 to Station 2
- Run 3: Side to side from Station 2 to Station 3. At the halfway mark of Run 3, rotate 180 degrees to use both sides of your body.
- Run 4: Butt kicks from Station 3 to Core 2
- Run 5: Lunges from Core 2 to Station 4 SPRINT!: Explode up from the last pushup and go!
- Core 1: 20 In & out crunches
- Core 2: 20 Mountain climbers
Everyone starts at Station 1, which would be a corner of the soccer field—it’s both the starting and ending line. As soon as “GO” is yelled, everyone drops and does 10 standard push-ups. When you finish the push-ups, run backwards to the center of the soccer field for Core 1 (20 in & out crunches). When you finish the crunches, bound down the field to Station 2 doing high knees (also known as plyometric skips). Perform 10 diamond push-ups at Station 3 and then start side-to-sides down the end line of the soccer field (you’ll be passing directly in front of the goal). Once you reach the halfway point (the middle of the goal), turn around 180 degrees and finish the rest of the way using your other side.
The second half of this game is where it gets real. Consider the first half a gentle warm-up!
At Station 3 perform 10 wide push- ups, then run down the field performing butt kicks as fast as you can toward Core 2. At Core 2, do 20 mountain climbers (10 each side). Once finished with mountain climbers, do forward walking lunges until you reach Station 4, where you’ll do 10 narrow push-ups. On your last push-up, explode up into a full sprint across the soccer field to Station 5. As soon as you cross the boundary line at Station 5, drop and do 10 standard push-ups.The first person to complete all this is the winner.
Remember: The Hot Corner is also a great individual workout! Get out and get motivated for a fantastic workout!