5 GYM-FREE WORKOUT PLANSYour cardio routine is like your razor: After a few weeks of constant use, it becomes increasingly dull and ineffective. That's when you need to find a new challenge, says Patrick Ward, C.S.C.S., founder of Optimum Sports Performance in Tempe, Arizona. Here are five finely honed workouts for wherever your summer takes you. (And for more great exercises for throughout the year, check out The Men's Health Big Book of Exercises.)
Do This: Draw a line in the sand near the water, but not where it will wash away. Draw another one 75 yards down the beach. (One long stride is roughly equal to a yard.) Run from one line to the other 16 times at 70 percent of your maximum effort—in other words, slightly faster than a conversational pace. Each time you reach a line, do one of the following exercises and then rest for 30 seconds: plank (hold 20 seconds), lunge (10 reps), or pushup (10 reps). Pick a different exercise each time. "It will become harder as you progress," says Ward, "so pace yourself."
Why It Works: "All of your force dissipates into the sand, requiring you to work harder to cover the same distance," says Ward. The result: You'll burn more calories than you would pounding the pavement.
Do This: In a 25-yard pool, swim two laps (that's four lengths, or 100 yards) using a freestyle stroke. Rest for 20 seconds. Next, do two laps using a backstroke. Rest 20 seconds. That's one round. Do four more rounds, for a total of five rounds and 1,000 yards.
Why It Works: Swimming provides all the heart-healthy benefits of running without the joint-jarring impact. A recent French study of tri-athletes found that swimming accounted for just 7 percent of training injuries while running accounted for 73 percent. "The pool is ideal for cross-training," says Ted Knapp, an associate head coach of the NCAA's third-ranked Stanford University men's swim team. "You can rest the muscles you typically hit on long runs or bike rides without sacrificing your cardio burn." (Are you tough enough for any workout? If you have 15 minutes, we have The Shortest Total-Body Workout.)
Do This: Do the exercises described below as a superset (back-to-back), performing as many reps of each as you can in 30 seconds; rest for 30 seconds between them. Continue alternating back and forth until you complete 6 sets of both. "You want to move as much as possible during each of those active 30 seconds," says Craig Ballantyne, C.T.T., the author of Turbulence Training. "So crank up the intensity level as high as you can, and keep it that way for the duration of the workout."
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides. Push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body as deep as you can into a squat. Place your hands on the ground in front of you and kick back into a pushup position. Do two pushups and then quickly bring your legs back into a squat. Now jump up. When you land, go immediately into your next rep.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and put your hands behind your head, elbows back. Keeping your back straight, step forward with your right foot and slowly lower your body until your right knee is bent at least 90 degrees. Pause, and then push yourself back up to the starting position as quickly as you can. Repeat the movement, this time stepping forward with your left foot. That's 1 rep. Keep alternating back and forth.
Why It Works: These exercises focus on different muscle groups. "While one muscle group is active, the other rests," says Ballantyne. "That allows you to do more work with less fatigue in less time." In this case, you'll complete a total-body, metabolism revving workout in just 10 minutes.
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