I know some of you are thinking right now, “What does exercise have to do with loving my life?”
I understand and it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve heard someone ask that question! However, for many of us, exercise is the perfect way for us to love our lives because it gives us so much energy, helps us feel stronger, and gives us fairly achievable goals to strive for.
So today I’m sharing 3 of my favorite effective, short-duration cardio routines!
I am not a fan of making your exercise routine take up a ton of time during your day. There really is no need for it to as long as you are intense and focused! (If you have the time to spend 60 minutes +, by all means, go ahead and do that but for many of us busy women, it’s hard to find!)
Getting outside is a huge benefit to your exercise routine as well because it is a great change of pace if you are used to being in your basement or a gym. Sometimes 1-2 outdoor sessions is just what I need to get me out of a rut and there really is nothing quite like being outside in the “original gym” God created!
As we move into the fall, many of us will be experiencing cooler temps which makes some of these workouts a little more doable. If it’s too hot, I encourage you to get up earlier in the morning. Take a friend with you or be sure to stay in a well-lit area if its too dark! I’ve even included a partner workout that could be done at a track (or improvised somewhere else!) so it makes the time go faster. Of course all 3 of these exercises can be done with a friend or two!
For those of you just starting off, these may seem intimidating but I want to encourage you to try them out! They are customizable to your level and intensity. You might be surprised at how much you love them!
1. Partner track workout
Grab a friend, spouse, or child and try this workout which can be done at a track or a neighborhood street! Picture demonstrations for each move can be found here!
Grab bar with an overhand grip. Raise body to the bar and then return. (Omit if you don’t have a bar or do another exercise!)
Assume push-up position. When you are down, bring one knee to the elbow. Press up and return leg to original position. Switch to other side.
One-Leg Tricep Dips:
Face each other on the ground. Each of you lift your leg and join them in the middle. Dip down as you keep the leg lifted. Be sure to switch legs.
Jump Squat and Reach:
This takes a little coordination. Have fun with it! Face each other and squat down. Jump back up and reach diagonally, clapping hands at the top. Squat back down and then switch clapping sides!
One person lays on the ground while the other stands. The person on the ground grabs the ankles of the standing one. The standing person throws their legs in different angles as the laying friend brings them back to starting position. Alternate between a side left throw, center throw and side right throw! We also do something called a pendulum swing which is throwing the legs to the left and swinging them down and around in a circle. Then throwing them to the right and swinging all the way around!
2. The “Side Street Scorcher”
I teach an outdoor pilates/cardio class in the summer and this routine is one they all groan at however they all enjoy the challenge (and sore muscles!) after. The key is finding a great incline so that you can really feel the leg muscles. Do each exercise once and then repeat the circuit as many times as you can or have time for. For photo demonstrations, go here!
Gut it out as fast and hard as you can until you reach the top. Jog down. Repeat.
Lunge with Tap:
Lunge forward and lean into the leg as you tap down. You want to keep the focus on the front of the legs but don’t let the knee extend over the toe. Alternate right and left lunges up the hill. Jog down the hill once you hit the top.
Side Slide and Squat:
Turn your body to face the sidewalk. Reach your leg out to the side as you squat deep and touch the ground. Bring legs together and repeat your way up the hill. Jog down. Make sure you switch and face the other sidewalk and repeat moving up.
Squat deep, tap the ground and jump forward. Repeat. Again, think of leaning forward and putting emphasis on front of legs without knees extending over the toes. Jog down the hill.
3. Simple Sprints
I’m a big proponent of sprinting! I love it because it requires shoes and about 100 meters of empty space. That’s it! It’s fast and super effective for fat burning! I feel them them all over my body and especially in my ABS the next day. Crazy, right?! I understand that sprinting can be a little intimidating to some of you so I wanted to give you some very easy ways to incorporate it into your routine. (For more info on sprints, check out my post here!)
Light pole Runs:
Go to a side street and jog to the first light pole, then sprint to the next and repeat. When you run out of room turn around and do it back!
Bump up the speed and go for it! I prefer to keep the treadmill running at the high speed and just step off the side of the treadmill (like this) to recover, then I get back on when I’m ready again. Saves the time of slowing down and speeding up!
Hill sprints are another awesome way to switch things up! I do it both on paved roads or on grassy hills! Sprint up, then jog or walk back down and repeat.
I love the track especially for early mornings when I need a safe, well lit place to run. There are a lot of options here!
– Do a pyramid. 4-100’s, 2-200’s, 1-400, and then go back down
– Sprint the straight and jog/walk the curve
– Stay on the straight and do 6-8 80’s
I’m sure you can do this with a regular bike, but I do these on stationary/recumbent ones in the gym when I want to do something other than the elliptical and want to cross train. Start out where it’s easier and interval through 15-20 sec of “sprinting” and 15-30 sec of recovery. Halfway through, amp up the resistance!
I hope you’ll share in the comments which workout you will be giving a try. Or for those of you who have been working out for a while, have you tried these types of workouts? What are some of your favorite ways to workout outside?
Clare Smith lives with her husband and 2 children in Northeast Ohio. She is a certified fitness instructor and teaches Pilates and group fitness classes at her church and local university. Clare’s passion (outside of raising and nurturing her children and home) is motivating women of all ages and stages of life to live well physically, emotionally and spiritually.