Turn Up the Heat

For the first time since I arrived in Madrid, the temperature has reached over 60 degrees! This is certainly a good cause for celebration, given my absolute hatred for cold weather. Per usual, with rising temperatures comes the awareness of what we all have been doing to our bodies from Thanksgiving to Valentine’s Day. Usually what we do during this time is quite different from the rest of the year, but even if you were good this year, as the temperature starts to rise, why not increase the intensity of your workouts? After all, soon you’ll be donning shorts and tanks, and there is no day like today to start on the ever elusive six pack…

Here are 2 specific ways you can target 2 specific areas of your workout to make the most of your time, and your efforts to be in the best shape you can be!

Turn it up with your cardio: with cardio, it is super easy to fall into a rhythm where you do the same or a similar thing time and time again. Cardio becomes stagnant especially during the winter when the elliptical, Stairmaster, and treadmill get the most use since it’s too cold to do much cardio outside. How can you mix it up? One of my favorite ways to push myself into varying the intensity of my cardio workout is by alternating sprints with jogging. You can:

1) find a field or a park with a reasonable distance to sprint across, and then jog back. Challenge yourself to see how many times you can do this, and then try to improve the next time. Or

2) On your regular route, sprint for 30 seconds, then jog for a minute, alternating back and forth as many times as you can without having to walk.

If you don’t want to run, try alternating jumping rope with jump squats. Jump rope (with a rope or just pretend as though you have one) for 1 minute, then for the next minute sink down into a squat, bending your knees but checking that your knees never go past your toes and then use the power in your legs to explode up into a jump. Alternate between the 2 exercises for 10 minutes to get your heart pumping.

Turn it up for your abs: Forget crunches, to heat it up for your abs, try alternating between full sit ups and planks! For the sit ups, complete 20 keeping your elbows out to your side, and sitting all the way up, bringing your chest towards your knees. Then flip to the other side and hold your body in as close to a straight line as possible for 30 seconds. Flip back over and complete 20 more situps, this time reaching your fingers out to touch your toes each time you sit up. Then back to the plank, holding for another 30 seconds, but this time moving your feet to add to the challenge. Step one foot out to the side then back to the center, then alternate, all the while trying to keep your core engaged and your body low in the plank position. Then do it again! Can you go through the sequence 3, 4, 5 times? Challenge yourself.

If you enjoy the added challenge and the extra burn from higher intensity cardio and abs sets, check back next week for ideas to work on defining your legs and arms as well! These ideas are simple, yet effective ways that you can mix up your routine without too much thought, though certainly effort will be required.

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