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
Having a strong core is vital for everyone whether you practise a sport or not. A strong core will allow you to stay healthy in everyday life and will prevent related injuries such as a sore back. Try some of these suspension trainer ab exercises to really see results.
The main muscles which make up a strong core are:
- The External Obliques: The muscles which run along the sides and front of your stomach.
- The Internal Obliques: These muscles sit behind your external obliques and run in the opposite direction.
- The Transverse Abdominis: These muscles are the deepest abdominal muscles which wrap around your spine to protect and stabilise it.
- The Rectus Abdominis: These muscles are the glamour muscles, located at the very front of your abdomen, it is these muscle which create the elusive six pack.
Core Suspension Training
In order to develop a strong core, you need to train your abdominals like you would any other muscle group, with a variety of exercises using multiple ranges of movement in multiple planes of motion, to maximise training results.
Suspension training can maximise your core strength because it puts your abs under constant tension. The premise of suspension training is that when you are suspended you are unstable and because of this every single exercise you perform on a TRX or suspension trainer fires up your abdominals as your core is forced to constantly work at keeping you stabilised and hold your body balanced using your own body weight as leverage. When we then start adding exercises designed to target your waist, not only will your abs be on fire, but you’ll fire up your results too!
With all these exercises, it is important to keep good form; squeeze your shoulder blades together to prevent arching your back and keep your core tensed to protect your spine. Suck your stomach into your spine and then imagine you're pulling it up towards your rib cage to engage your Transverse Abdominis.
Grab your handles and face away from the anchor. Begin with the straps by your sides and slowly with control, fall forward as you bring your arms straight up above your head to align with your ears in one swift movement. Keeping your arms straight return them back to the starting point. The further away your feet are from the anchor point, the easier the exercise is as you are using less of your body weight as resistance.
TRX Mountain Climbers
For this one you need to start in a plank position; hands underneath your shoulders with your feet in the trainer’s stirrups. Make sure you have shortened the length or the straps. Keeping your hands stable, crunch and bring each knee in towards the chest individually for a suspended mountain climber.
TRX Oblique Crunch
This one really works your obliques, to the sides of your core. Start in the same position as the previous exercise, but this time both legs move in unison. Crunch your knees in diagonally towards your elbow and then straighten up into your regular plank, now match up the other side.
TRX Pendulum Swings
Pendulum swings start in the plank position, with your shoulders over your hands. This exercise requires you to balance and hold your core steady under momentum. Swing your legs side to side to gather some momentum, then begin bending the knees to perform a crunch on either side of your swing. This really targets your core from every angle.
Pull and Twist
Grab both handles and stand so that you are facing the anchor point. The closer your feet are to the anchor, the harder this will be as you're using more of your bodyweight. Lean back with your arms extended in front of you, pull your body weight up maintaining a neutral spine and twist your arms to point to the left, return to the start and repeat for the other side.
Spiderman crunch to plank up downs
Head back to the ground and return to your plank position, this time you’re going to bring each knee up towards your elbow. You should look like spiderman climbing, hence the name. Complete one per side and then progress into your plank up down. From your hand plank, take each arm down to an elbow plank and then return to start. All of this counts as one complete rep.
Strength and Conditioning Coach Jamie Lloyd suggests that in order to stay on top of your game and build strength, mobility, flexibility, stability and power, there are specific exercises that will allow you to hone your skills as a regular gym goer. Animal Flow exercises will not only challenge you but add variety and fun and a new dimension to your workouts.
So What Is Animal Flow?
Animal-based movements have been used for decades to help athleticism. I have certainly been using them for years in my own training and with clients, but Animal Flow is a dynamic movement system that has been developed by founder Mike Fitch to help you blend these fun moves into your training sessions.
Animal Flow is a combination of break-dancing, balancing, Parkour and callisthenics in one. But warning: it does get your blood pumping and gets you into a sweat! These moves can be used as stand-alone exercises or used to flow together which give you a phenomenal workout.
In order to improve, you have to practise and you’ll get a great buzz and an endless flow of energy afterwards. Animal Flow is suited to both beginners and advanced athletes alike.
How do you do Animal Flow Training?
Just follow your ABC! Try these 3 basic foundation moves.
Ape: king of the jungle!
Get down on all fours and move contra-laterally. The opposite side of the body moves across the body.
Bear Crawl: the signature move
Get into all fours in a box position, hover your knees one inch off the floor and bring your right knee to right elbow. Sit back into child's pose but keep your knees off the floor then bring your left knee to left elbow. Keep moving from one side to the next.
Crab Grab: a great back strengthener and hip opener
Sit down on the floor with your hands turned away behind you. Lift your whole body off the floor, then drive the hips up and with one arm overhead try to touch the floor behind you. Repeat on the other side, keep your backside off the floor. Aim to do 4-5 reps each side.
Animal Flow Workout
Do all of these moves back-to-back with no rest in between.
- Apes x 10 with reverse bear crawl
- Bear Crawl forwards with reverse bear crawl
- Crab Grab x 4-5 reps each side
Try doing 4-5 rounds!
About the author: Jamie Lloyd is an award-winning fitness professional, pain relief expert and performance coach based in SW London.
Getting fit doesn't have to cost the earth and not being able to afford a gym membership shouldn't be an excuse for inactivity. We give our top tips for getting fit for free.
Join a local running club
Some running clubs have a joining fee and annual dues, however you may well find that there are running clubs in your local area that are completely free of charge. These will be more casual and relaxed groups, however this is ideal if you are starting exercising as a complete beginner or do not want to feel intimidated by serious, competitive runners.
There are a lot of benefits of joining a running club such as increased motivation, discovering new routes, and companionship. Running is something that anyone can do for free and you may well make some new friends and find a new passion.
Make use of outdoor space
Anyone can train outdoors for free and there are lots of benefits of outdoor training such as burning more calories than inside and reaping the benefits of breathing in fresh air rather than the conditioned air of a gym.
If you are unsure about training outdoors during winter, simply make sure you are dressed appropriately and you will find that winter training becomes much more bearable. Layer up in running leggings to protect your legs and wrap up in a sport hoodie or waterproof jacket to keep you dry in changeable weather.
Ditch the car
An easy way to add exercise into your daily routine is to ditch the car and travel under your own steam. This could be in the form of walking/cycling to work or the local shops. Not only is this free, it will even help you to save money on fuel costs.
This is a great way to get more active without having to make too much of an effort and once it is a part of your daily routine, you'll notice how much fitter you're getting without even trying.
Parkrun is one of the most popular free sporting events in the country and for good reason. It's a way to practise racing for free and in a relaxed and friendly environment. Some councils tried to start charging for Parkrun but were quickly shot down as it is such a great way to get people into fitness and helps them meet new friends in their local area.
Parkrun is a weekly 5k race done in local parks all across the country on a Saturday morning and is free for anyone to sign up. You receive a personal barcode that times your run when scanned at the finish and you can see how you rank up against the other people in your town.
What is circuit training?
Circuit training was first developed in 1953 by R.E. Morgan and G.T. Anderson at the University of Leeds in 1953. The formula was as follows:
“A circuit consists of 9 to 12 stations, with each station representing one exercise. At each station, an exercise is performed with a specific resistance and for a specific number of reps. Work at each station takes 30-60 seconds, after which the trainee moves directly to the next station on the circuit (with no break) and begins the exercise. An aerobics station requiring 15-180 seconds of work is placed between the main exercise stations.”
Morgan and Anderson developed this form of circuit training in order to enable individuals to work at their own intensity while also training with others. This is why it is a popular training method for army recruits and other team exercise sessions.
During circuit training, the body is forced to work through exercises of varying intensities, resulting in the use of different energy systems all within one session. Training in both the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems provides an excellent workout improving overall fitness, speedwork and endurance.
Over the years, trainers have adapted and changed the formula to suit their needs, such as boxing circuits or bodyweight circuits, but the main structure and end result remain the same.
What are the benefits of circuit training?
- Multiple people can train at once and work at their own intensity
- The variety means there’s no room for boredom
- Circuit training boosts cardiovascular fitness
- Circuit training boosts muscular fitness
- It offers a full-body workout in a short space of time
- It's social
- No wasted time as rest periods are minimal
- Significant calorie expenditure
Research Supporting Circuit Training
A study at The University of Alabama found that circuit training can maintain heart rates at near 80% of the max, at this level of intensity aerobic development can occur - this takes place between 78- 85% of the maximum heart rate.
In a study of weight training circuits conducted by The National Athletic Health Institute in the 1970’s participants performed back to back strength exercises with no rest for 10 weeks. The study’s participants gained 3 pounds of muscle and lost 2 pounds of fat. Both men and women achieved reductions in skinfold thickness and increased their overall muscular strength. Despite the lack of any cardio within the circuits, participants saw an improved running time to exhaustion on a treadmill by 5 to 6% and an 11% increase in their VO2 max.
A study for Aging and Disease called “Impact of Resistance Circuit Training on Neuromuscular, Cardiorespiratory and Body Composition Adaptations in the Elderly” found that in order to optimise the body composition, muscle strength gains, and developed cardiovascular function from circuit training, the following protocols need to be maintained:
- 2 circuits should be completed weekly and can be implemented with endurance training.
- Circuit weight training should last 30–50 minutes. The number of sets and the repetitions per exercise is going to depend on the intensity of training.
- The loading intensity to promote hypertrophy (build muscle) should approach 60–85% (more highly trained individuals 85%) of 1RM, although low intensity is also recommended (e.g. 40% of 1RM), high velocity contractions on at least 1 day per week to develop muscle power.
- The work to rest ratio is also a critical factor in the prescribing of circuit training. The work to rest ratio 1:1 (30:30 s) may be an excellent stimulus to promote improvements on aerobic fitness, and modifications on body composition (i.e. decrease body fat).
Circuit Training Workout Routine
5 - 10 minute warm up light run.
Complete 3 rounds of the following exercises, try 45 seconds on with 15 seconds rest (just enough time to switch between exercises)
1.Bench step ups
3. Bench push ups
3. Travelling plank
1.Box jumps onto the bench
2.Bench plank rotations
3.Lateral Step up with abduction
1.Bunny Hops with hands on the bench
2.Mountain Climbers with hands on the bench
3.Feet elevated plank
5 - 10 minutes cool down stretches.
The beauty of circuit training is that a circuit can be set up anytime anywhere, you can change the routine to suit the equipment you’ve got, or use none at all. The main factor is your level of effort, as long as your circuit works you hard, you’ll reap the rewards.