STAIRS -- This is one of my favorites because it gives you a solid cardiovascular workout as well as some terrific butt and thigh toning. If I don't have a lot of time for a workout, I will often jog to the beach and then take the stairs down to the sand and back up five or six times. I alternate my pace and my steps. Sometimes I will walk up them and skip two steps in between, or sometimes I will run up them skipping one step. Sometimes I will go down with a side step. I try to mix it up and make my legs burn. It is an energizing feeling.
PLANK -- I really love this workout because it doesn't require anything but yourself. It can be done anywhere that you can lie down and engages your entire body. There are a few variations -- you can extend your arms and balance or extend one arm and the opposite leg and balance. There are a lot of ways to mix it up, including increasing the time that you hold the plant. I usually hold it for 60 seconds, but sometimes I will hold it for 90 seconds or for two minutes. This is the best no-excuse workout because it is so simple and so effective. Recently, I have been doing plank while balancing my forearms on a bosu ball. This is really challenging -- I love it!
BALL CRUNCHES -- I really love these because of the range of motion the ball gives you. There are a lot of types of balls (stability, bender and bosu) that allow you to take the basic crunch to the next level.
PUSH-UPS -- Yes! I really do love doing push-ups because of the range of variations, such as wide arms, narrow arms, staggered hands, one hand elevated, inclined and declined. I use a 4/2/1 tempo to increase the intensity of the movement -- You start in the push-up position and perform the eccentric movement (or bending the elbows and lowering into a push-up) for four counts, hold the lowered, or isometric position, for two counts, and then come back up (or concentric movement) for one count. For those of you who can knock out 20 push-ups as if it's nothing, see how many of them you can do at this tempo!
JUMPING ROPE -- Two items I always have with me without fail are a water bottle and a jump-rope. The jump-rope I use has weights in the handles for an extra challenge. I always feel like a fighter in training when I jump-rope and have some good music blaring in my ears. On the sidewalk, I'll find a line in the concrete and when jumping rope I'll hop side to side over that line. I jump-rope forward and backward as well. When I jump-rope, I usually will choose a variation and do it for an entire length of one song and then switch it up when the next song comes on. I haven't mastered the crisscross yet, but that's my next jump-rope mission.
Lunden Souza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.