We all want more bang for our buck. Working out is no exception. If you work your tail off in the gym, you want to see results. The more hours you log in, the more you expect to get out of your gym time, right? WRONG! Exercise is a prime example of quality over quantity. Instead of just focusing on the number of calories burned during your hamster session on the treadmill, start thinking about the number of calories you can burn after you throw in the towel and head home. This is called EPOC, or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption.
This extra oxygen consumption directly correlates to the amount of energy burned. In other words, the kind of exercise you do will determine how many extra calories you will be burning at rest, after your workout. High intensity exercise raises stress hormones like adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol, causing a chain reaction that eventually leads to lactic acid build up. This lactic acid build up triggers testosterone and HGH (fat burning hormones). All of these hormones work collectively to produce EPOC.
Elite level gymnasts are considered to be some of the strongest and fittest athletes, pound for pound. Why? Well, every flip, leap and jump is engaging multiple muscles at once, in maximum exertion. The more muscles you contract at once, the more energy is required, and the more calories are burned. Thus, greater EPOC results.
Below is a gymnastics-inspired conditioning circuit. All you need is a towel, resistance band and stopwatch. Perform as many repetitions in 30 seconds of each exercise as you can. Perform the circuit at least twice, resting as little as possible! Remember to be as explosive and quick as possible!
1. Lunge Jump Switches: Standing with your feet together, jump into a lunge position, with your left leg to the front, right leg to the back, and both knees bent to 90 degrees. Your front knee (left leg) should be directly over your left heel. Then jump as high as you can and switch legs, landing in a right leg lunge. Continue jumping and switching legs, while swinging your arms comfortably at your sides. Make sure you are pushing off both the front and back legs equally each time you jump.
2. Narrow-To-Wide Arm Pushup: Start in a straight-armed plank or push-up position, with your shoulders over top of your wrists. Then bend your arms, and lower down into a tricep push-up, keeping the elbows pointed backwards and tight by your ribs. From there, explode up, jumping your hands out wide to either side of you, and lower down into a wide armed push-up. This time, your elbows point out to the sides, forming 90 degree angles. Continue to push off the ground with your arms, “jumping” from narrow to wide push-ups. Keep the legs straight, feet in place and spine straight.
3. V-Ups: Lay on your back with your legs straight and together. Simultaneously lift your legs and upper body off the ground to form a “V” position. Then lower down to the starting position. Repeat. Hands can be kept resting palms down by your hips, or outstretched overhead for increased intensity.
4. Back Lunge Leg Kick with Band (one side at a time): Tie a loop in a resistance band and slip the loop around your right ankle. With your left foot, stand on the untied end. Give yourself the appropriate amount of slack in the band. Lunge backward with the right leg until both knees form 90-degree angles. Then push off the back leg into a straight leg kick backwards. Immediately lunge and kick again with the same leg. Perform 30 seconds with just the right leg, then switch. Make sure you keep your chest up when you lunge and kick!
5. Pike Handstand Pushups (feet up on bench or stairs): Place your hands on the floor shoulder-width apart, and step your feet up onto a bench. Keep your legs straight and lift your hips in the air, so your body forms an upside down “V.” Your shoulders should be directly over top of your wrists. Bending your arms, lower down until the top of your head gently touches the floor. Keeping the flexion in your hips, and straighten your arms to return to the starting position. Repeat. The more flexion you keep in your hips, the higher the intensity.
6. Seated L-leg Lifts: Sitting with your legs straight and extended in front of you, press your palms on the floor on either side of your thighs. Without rocking your chest backwards, lift and lower your legs off the ground. The farther forward your chest is kept, the more challenging it will be.
7. Front Jump Switches: Using bench or stairs, stand on left leg, with right foot placed on a bench. Shift your weight to the elevated foot, press off of the bottom leg, jump and switch feet, so that your left foot is now on the bench. Repeat. Keep the “jump switch” action in the air above of the bench.
8. Bicep Curl 21’s (7 bottom half, 7 top half, 7 full range): Grab some dumbbells (or the handles of a resistance band and stand in the middle of the band). Keeping the elbows tight against the sides of your ribs, perform 7 repetitions of the bottom half of a bicep curl, stopping when the elbow hits 90 degrees. Then perform 7 repetitions of the top half of the curl, starting at 90 degrees. Finish with 7 full range bicep curls. Increase difficulty by widening your stance.
9. Single Leg Down Dog To Plank: Start in an upside down “V” position with the hands and heels flat on the floor. Lift one leg to vertical, keeping arms and legs straight. Rock the shoulders forward and flatten out the hips until you hit a plank position. Keeping the leg elevated, rock the shoulders back and lift the hips up to return to the starting position. Repeat and perform for 30 seconds. Then switch legs.
10. Hollow Rock: Lay on your back and lift your legs off of the ground. Bring your arms overhead and lift your shoulders and upper back up off the ground. Keeping the heels off the ground, curve your spine and rock back and forth. You can decrease the intensity by bending your legs, or placing your hands on top of your thighs.
11. Arch Rock: This is the reverse of the hollow rock. Lay on your stomach and stretch your arms overhead. Keeping your legs straight, press your hips into the floor, lift your legs and chest off the ground. Rock back and forth keeping the hands and feet off the floor.
12. Hand-Stand Shrugs: With a partner or against the wall, kick up to a handstand position. With straight arms, press through your shoulders until your ears touch your shoulders. Release and repeat.
13. Burpees: Stand with legs shoulder-width apart. Squat down and place the hands on the floor, in between the feet. Keep the hands on the floor and jump the feet backwards into a plank position. Then jump the feet back to either side of the hands to a squat position, stand up and jump. Repeat.
REMEMBER! The more muscles you contract at once, the more energy is required, and the more calories are burned. Thus, greater EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) results.