While a well-structured daily exercise regime should include plenty of cardio, stretching, body-weight exercises and resistance training, and does require at least 30 minutes, life usually does not offer ideal conditions or situations. So here’s a programme that takes care of multiple problems. You need 10-15 minutes, almost no equipment and little space to complete the entire set of exercises.
This programme is for you if you are a beginner, or are returning to an exercise regime after a long break but can’t get yourself to mentally commit a lot of time to it, and need to build up your physical and mental strength slowly. It’s for you if you exercise regularly or go to a gym, but find yourself in circumstances that do not let you visit the gym. And it’s for you if you are a fitness freak and want that extra boost in full body and cardio conditioning.
In part 2 of our 10-minute fitness blast workouts, we step up the tempo. As usual, these programmes involve no weights—just your own body weight used in creative ways. You will be surprised at how difficult that can get, and how far you can push your strength and conditioning without equipment. Gravity can be very mean.
The first routine here has got a bit of everything—strength, mobility, core recruitment, endurance— and lights the fat-burning torch as well.
The second routine involves plyometrics, basically moves that are explosive in nature, contracting and releasing muscles in the shortest possible time.
A practical definition of plyometric exercise is a quick, powerful movement using a pre-stretch, or a counter-movement. For these exercises, all you need is a bench or a box, or any raised platform. A pile of books can be used for the push-up drill. In the photograph, we have piled together a bunch of rubber tiles to create a 6- to 9-inch step.
As with most body-weight routines, it is safe for beginners to do these, and those with more advanced fitness can scale it up by doing more sets and reducing the rest times between sets for a fast and furious workout.
Begin by squatting on your haunches and place your hands, shoulder-width apart, on the floor in front of you. Kick your legs back so your body goes into a push-up position. Immediately pull your legs back into the squatting position. As soon as the legs touch the floor, leap up as high as possible, reaching up with your hands. Land, and go immediately back to the beginning position. That’s one repetition. Do a total of three sets of 10, with a minute’s rest between each set.
The key is to do the moves in quick succession to get the full-body conditioning benefits this exercise is famous for. Burpees are great for burning fat, increasing endurance and agility, as well as developing strength in the shoulders, core, hips and legs—it’s just a very versatile movement.
Dynamic horse stance
Get on your hands and knees with your wrists directly below the shoulders and knees directly below the hips. Keep your legs parallel to each other and your elbows pointing straight towards your thighs. Inhale and raise your right arm up and out in a 45-degree angle to the torso, and lift your left leg as high and straight as possible at the same time without losing balance or moving your pelvis. Exhale and bring your right elbow and your left knee towards each other so that they are both tucked in under your torso and your elbow goes past your knee. This is one repetition. Do 10 on one side, then repeat on the other.
Also known as Dive Bombers, these are a variation of the traditional push-ups that put special emphasis on the shoulder muscles, and have been practised for centuries by wrestlers and other martial artistes in the subcontinent.
Begin in the push-up position, with feet and hands little more than shoulder-width apart. Form the body into an upside-down “V” by pushing your butt up, and keeping the head, neck and spine aligned. The arms should be touching the ears in this position. From this position, commonly known as The Downward Dog in Yoga, bend the elbows, and lower the head towards the ground, bringing the chest almost to the ground, while the hips are still about a couple of feet in the air. Push yourself into what is known as the Cobra pose in yoga, with the hips in contact with the floor, the torso bent like an inverted bow, and arms extended fully. Return to the Downward Dog position by raising the abdomen into a normal plank, and then pushing your hips up. This is one repetition. Do three sets of 10 repetitions.
Cycled split squat jump
Assume a lunge position with the right leg forward (hip and knee joints flexed to approximately 90 degrees) and the left behind the mid-line of the body. Drop your knees and hips a little, as you would before jumping, and then explosively jump up, throwing the arms up to assist the movement. While off the ground, switch the position of the legs, so that you land back in the lunge position, but this time with the left leg forward and the right leg behind. This is one repetition. Work three sets of 10 repetitions each. The key here is to jump again as soon as you land while going through a set.
Photo by hang_in_there