Staying fit and active in winter takes a lot of motivation and it can be easy to succumb to hibernation mode and comfort food. Try this heart-pumping winter metcon workout to keep your fitness up this festive period.
Related: What Is A Metcon Workout?
Winter Metcon Workout
EMOM: Every Minute On the Minute | 10 minutes total |
- 5 burpees
- 15 kettlebell swings (men use 16kg, women use 10kg)
- 5 inch worms
- 10 press ups
- 10 jumping squats
- 20 mountain climbers
- 10 push press (men use 10kg medicine ball, women use 5kg)
- 20 stiff legged deadlifts (men use 12kg dumbbells, women use 8kg)
- 10 jumping lunges
- 10 star jumps
Rest for 5 minutes
AMRAP: As Many Reps As Possible | 5 minutes total |
- Jumping lunges – 60 seconds
- Clean and press – 90 seconds – 50% of your 1RM
- Deadlifts – 90 seconds – 70% of your 1RM
- Overhead press – 60 seconds –50% of your 1RM
We've all seen the workout videos that try to encourage us to use everyday household items to help us work out. From pots and pans to the sofa, there are plenty of things you can use to complement your home workout, but here at Sundried, we've taken it one step further!
This routine amplifies your body's work using a towel, creating extra friction or tension to intensify your efforts. We also use multiple planes of motion to develop strength that improves performance not only in sport but in everyday life as we twist and turn in multiple directions without even realising it.
Training in different ways ensures you continue to progress, so challenge convention and use your towel to break a sweat, not wipe it!
Exercises using a towel
Towel Trunk Twist
Hold the towel out taut in front of you. Keeping both feet facing forward, twist from side to side as though you are looking for someone behind you.
Squat with Overhead Reach
Keeping that towel taut, squat down and reach both arms up straight above your head and as far back as your shoulders allow in one smooth motion. You're trying to warm up your shoulders through their full range of motion. We’ll be working them hard in this workout.
Squat with Towel Twist
As you squat twist your hands down towards the furthest foot and then up diagonally to the ceiling as you lift. This should look like a woodchopper motion with the towel kept taut.
Sliding Curtsey Lunges
Place your towel under one foot, this will be the one that moves. Slide back diagonally into a curtsey lunge and then drag the towel back to your start point, without it leaving the floor.
Door Pistol Squats
Wrap your towel around a door handle (make sure it's secure enough to take your weight), now take one leg out in front of you and sink down as low as you can on the other leg, this is a pistol squat. Great from improving your mobility and creating equal strength in both legs through isolation.
Reverse Plank Hamstring Curl
Come down to the floor and place your towel under your heels. Sit with your hands by your hips and then lift up into a reverse plank. Keep your body in a straight line and try not to relax your head back. Now drag your heels in towards your bum and then back out to straight. You should feel this in your abs, shoulders and hamstrings as you drag the towel.
Push Up with Arm Slide
Come into your regular push up position, with your towel underneath one hand. As you lower for a push up slide the towel hand out to your side in a straight line and drag it back in as you extend. If you need to, drop to your knees to make it easier.
Plank Star Slide
For this you need a towel under each foot. Start in your regular plank position, here you're going to be moving the opposite hand and leg. Lift one hand and twist into a side plank as you slide the opposite leg through towards the wall, making your body look like a star. As you return your hand drag your leg back and repeat on the other side.
Place one towel underneath both feet and return to your plank position. Slide your legs in towards your hands keeping your legs straight (without locking your knees) and lift your bum up into the air to perform a pike, pause at the top and slide to the start.
Pull Through Crunch
Sit on the floor and hold your towel taught between both hands above your head. Now bring your legs in as though you were performing a crunch, but as you do, bring the towel down towards your legs. Feed your legs through the gap between your legs and the towel and straighten them once the towel is held beneath your hamstrings. Curl your legs back up and pass the towel over your toes as you return to the start position. Tough.
Dorsal Raise vs V sits
Two for the price of one. Lying on your stomach start with your towel taut above your head. Lift your arms and legs to perform a dorsal raise, then keeping your towel tight, roll over onto your back. From this position fold in half, bringing your extended arms and legs together to meet in the middle for a v sit. Return to the mat and roll over to repeat your dorsal raise.
Towel Bend and Stretch
Holding you towel between both hands bend down keeping your legs straight to stretch your hamstrings and back, then rotate your shoulders and bring your taut towel behind your neck with extended arms.
Assisted Tricep Stretch
Hold the towel in one hand and extend above your head, folding at the elbow to stretch the tricep, now using the other hand grab the towel and gently tug to extend the stretch into the tricep. Repeat both sides.
Assisted Hamstring Stretch
Use your towel as a hook over your toes and gently pull the foot up towards your head to stretch your hamstring and calves. Repeat both sides.
Hold the towel tight above your head and lean towards the outside of each thigh, stretching across your obliques.
Now you may need that towel to wipe your sweat and bonus, your floor gets a good polish at the same time!
To download the Tone with a Towel workout as a take home PDF as featured in BestFit magazine click here.
The squat is one of the biggest exercises in fitness. It is a huge compound movement that can help to improve your fitness and strength in a number of ways. But what if you can't squat properly? How can you improve your squat?
Why can't I squat properly?
Squatting is a natural, functional movement that humans have been doing since the dawn of time. When we were young we would squat perfectly and naturally without even thinking about it. Just take a look at a child playing around, they'll drop into a squat and get back up again without a second thought. As we age, we get less and less good at it as we lose mobility and become sedentary in our lifestyle.
If you can't squat properly, it could be due to lifestyle or it could be due to your personal physiology. If you haven't done a squat since you were a child, you can't expect to do one perfectly first time you try. Like everything, exercises take practice, and you should ask an expert or fitness professional to give you guidance the first time you try to squat.
Some people have more reduced mobility than others, which may also affect your squat capabilities. If you have stiff or weak ankles, you will struggle to squat. Again, practice makes perfect, and with the right physio training, you'll be able to do a full, proper squat in no time.
Squats are a compound movement, meaning they use multiple joints and muscles to happen. A simple body weight squat utilises almost every muscle in the body and arguably once weights are added, no muscle gets left behind. It's a good idea to get well acquainted with the body weight squat before you add weight, so that you can be sure you have good form.
How to do a squat
- Begin with feet just outside shoulder width and toes pointing very slightly outward.
- Find a point to focus on looking straight ahead, don’t look down as this will compromise your spine.
- Head up, sink your weight back into your heels and bend your knees.
- Sink your bum down as low as your hips and flexibility allow.
- Your chest should stay upright and your back remains flat, the knees should follow the toes.
- Driving off your heels, straighten back up to the start position.
How to improve your squat
Lack of Range
A lack of range in your squat is usually caused by stiffness, inflexibility or even ankle instability. If your heels lift off the ground towards the bottom of your squat it is likely that you have either tight hamstrings, ankles or both. Stretching the ankles and hamstrings will help to achieve the full squat depth.
Knees collapse inwards
Your knees caving inwards during a squat is a common sign of weak abductors and gluteus medius, although there can be many other reasons as with any imperfection. Exercises which focus on activating these muscles such as lying clamshells, banded squat walks and single leg lunging can help to activate these areas. This being said, there are olympic athletes whose knees collapse inwards as they compete, who clearly don’t suffer from ‘weak’ anything. So it is not the only cause.
Back caves forwards when squatting
A weak posterior chain can lead to bending forward as the lower back attempts to make up for the weakness and ends up pulling you forward. Strengthening the hips, glutes and hamstrings will enable them to engage better and pull your body back to the correct alignment.
An arched back when squatting can be caused by a multitude of problems, a weak chest, poor posture, a weak trunk or even simply too great a weight can cause the shoulders to arch, compromising your squat technique. Trying to establish the cause of this imbalance can often be the most difficult task, but then there are simple steps which can be implemented in order to address the issue. A weak chest can be worked on by focusing on exercises such as flyes and pullovers, whilst fully engaging the pecs by forcing the shoulders back. A weak trunk can be improved by working on core strength using exercises such as the plank and hanging leg raises.
The barbell squat
Olympic squat, weighted squats, whatever you want to call it, this is when the squat becomes a game changer and has the greatest effects not only on strength but on weight loss, fitness and body composition. Weight training has a whole article of benefits of it’s own which you can read under “strength training”.
The first battle, do I use a neck wrap or not? To barbell squat you will need an olympic bar, collars and a rack. You will not need: Chalk, lifting gloves or a neck pad for the bar. If you hold the bar correctly you don’t need to use a pad to support your back, that’s what you’ve got traps for. What’s more - wearing a neck brace can damage your proprioception, you need to be able to feel the bar properly for effective balance. Padding makes the bar thicker, moving it upwards which causes a more forward lean and emphasises lower back stress. As your weight lifting gets serious and your strength increases a bar pad won’t be any help anyway. Heavy weights hurt.
Setting up to barbell squat
This is another common trait many will miss, despite the fact they’re in the gym, we can still call these people lazy, as they’re the ones who don’t want to faff with moving the rack to fit them properly, which can lead to poor technique. As someone who is 5 ft 2, I physically HAVE to set the bar up every time, as at most people’s height, I’d be trying to lift it over my head! The bar should be set at a height somewhere between your breast and collar bone. It needs to be low enough that when you stand with knees locked, the bar lifts off the rack, without you going on tip toes. It’s a squat not a calf raise.
Once you’ve set the bar up, it’s time to step under it, place the bar across your shoulders and select your grip. This is another vital piece of the puzzle. Follow these steps:
Step up to bar. Duck under bar. Make sure head is central. For a high placement, the bar sits across the neck, resting on your traps, for heavier weights the bar is usually placed slightly further down, so the weight is more central and therefore less likely to cause damage to the lower back. Keep your hands as close as possible without causing strain, which will flex the upper back and provide “cushioning”. Point your elbows down, straighten your wrists and keep your elbows in.
That’s the setup, so this is the moment where you have a stern word with yourself, big yourself up and then go for it. You should be able to straighten and un-wrack in just two steps, if you have to lift the bar any further out you could put yourself at risk.
The squat technique itself is almost identical to a body weight squat, except now you’ve got a weight on your back. The main factor here is to make sure you keep your head facing forwards rather than looking up, as this will cause compression at the top of your spine.
Once you have the basic squat perfected, the possibilities of where you can take it are endless. In our next post we will look at squat variations, so keep your eyes peeled!
Try this upper body arm workout for women to blast your arms and get results! Including exercises for biceps, triceps, and shoulders. Perfect for toning and sculpting your arms and bingo wings.
Cable Tricep Pull Downs
This exercise is for isolating the triceps.
How to perform the tricep pull down
Using either a straight bar or rope attachment, attach to a cable machine in the high position. Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, pull the bar down and keep your elbows tucked in. Push the bar down, fully extending your arms, then slowly raise the bar up back to the start position. Keep the movement control and feel the burn in the back of your arms!
Key exercise tips:
- Keep the elbows tucked in
- Fully extend the arms
- Exhale as you press down and inhale on the way up
- Too much movement of the arms – taking the elbows away from the body
- Shrugging the shoulders and using the trap muscles
- Going too heavy and using momentum
This is a great cardiovascular exercise that will trim and tone the arms whilst simultaneously working the core and blasting the shoulders.
How to use the battle ropes
Hold the ends of the rope at arm's length in front of your hips with your hands shoulder-width apart. Brace your core, soften your knees, and begin alternately raising and lowering each arm explosively. Keep alternating arms for 30 seconds. After 30 seconds, instead of making waves, start slamming the rope into the ground. Make sure to keep breathing and don't hold your breath!
Key exercise tips:
- Tense your abs tightly during performance
- Concentrate on keeping your speed fast
- Don't hold your breath
- Sacrificing technique with fatigue
- Performing the exercise for too long
Dumbbell Bicep Curls
This is an isolation exercise for the biceps using a pair of dumbbells.
How to perform the dumbbell curl
In a standing position, holding a dumbbell in your hand and keeping your elbow pinned to your waist, curl your arm up to your chest, flexing your elbow then slowly extend it back down again. Repeat on each arm for 10-12 reps.
Key exercise tips:
- Keep your elbow in a fixed position
- Fully extend your arm at the bottom of the movement
- Moving the elbow out of alignment
- Going too heavy and sacrificing technique
- Swinging the body with the movement
Tricep Bench Dips
This is a body weight exercise that you can do virtually anywhere. It’s a compound exercise, which means it will hit all three of your tricep muscles as well as your shoulders and chest muscles.
How to perform the tricep bench dip
Position your hands at shoulder width apart on a bench with your hands facing forward. Extend your legs out, taking your bum off the bench balancing on your hands.
Lower your body down towards the floor taking your arms into a 90 degrees bend. Press your body upwards, extending out your arms back into the start position.
Key exercise tips:
- Keep your core tight to maintain an upright position
- Make sure your elbows track in line with your hand
- Breathe in as you lower and breathe out as you press up
- If you find it difficult to perform the tricep dip with straight legs then bend your knees placing your feet flat on the floor
- Rounding/curving back
- Not going low enough
- Hyperextending the elbows
Sport brings endless opportunities to meet new people. I have been active in the running and triathlon world for a few years and now the majority of my friends are people who I have met because of something to do with sport. Relationships in life are vital in being able to maintain a healthy state of mind. Saying that, having a few close friendships is much more fruitful that having many "just friends". Personally, I have come to the realisation that these close relationships take precedence over nearly everything else in life such as money, career, and materialistic things, as for me it is the one thing which has the most significant positive effect on my mental well-being.
When it comes to sport, it is so much easier to train with other people. Some of you may not necessarily realise that a lot of the pro athletes at the Olympics are actually part of the same training groups and have the same coaches, even though they represent different countries. For example in triathlon, the same coach would coach pro athletes from a number of different countries even though these athletes then end up competing against each other. This highlights the importance of being around other people who are on the same wavelength and who understand you so that you can work together effectively.
This is good to know for us because it is so much easier for people with mental illness to get out the house and participate in sport if they have made plans with other people. It's hard to motivate yourself to go alone, so it is good to remember that even the best athletes do not live in isolation and they prefer to be around each other as it can help them to thrive. It helps them being with other people who understand the type of tough training schedules they have and can relate to how they are feeling. The same applies to everyone, especially those who suffer from depression, an eating disorder, or any other mental illness; you are stronger in numbers than you are alone.
Therefore, there is power in choosing the right people to be around. And it is also nothing to be ashamed of if you have to distance yourself from certain people who are not right for you if they work against your positive aspirations in life. Think of you, "number one", and make sure that you have good people on your side.
About the author:
Alister Brown is an athlete and coach who has been using sport to combat his own struggles with depression. Alister tells us why he feels surrounding yourself with the right training buddies can have such a positive influence on your mental health.