Everyone knows the importance of cardio, but let's face it: Spending much more than 30 minutes on the treadmill or elliptical can feel a little pointless, even if your podcast lineup is spot on. Paige Hathaway feels the same way, which is why she created this 30-minute full-body, no-equipment program that can help you take care of a lot of business in a short amount of time, while enjoying yourself along the way (although listening to Paige on the Bodybuilding.com Podcast is still a good idea).
"I designed this workout to make cardio fun," says Hathaway. "You're still going to build muscle and strength while burning the most calories in the least amount of time."
The protocol is a bit unique. You'll alternate two exercises for a minute, then rest 30 seconds and move to a different pairing. The only exception is the single-leg burpee (you read that right), where you'll just alternate legs for a minute.
Take a few minutes to generally warm up, familiarize yourself with the movements, and then dive in!
Superset: Frog Squat and Jump Lunge
The frog squat is a thigh burner of the first order. Just lock your feet in place, lock your elbows into your knees, and move your hips up and down. That's it! Do your best to keep your spine neutral and don't lower your head. This will warm you up right away.
As for the other half of the superset, beginners can do a simple alternating lunge. If you're more advanced or want a challenge, Hathaway has one for you: "You're going to do a jump lunge." Keep these strict and powerful!
What a difference raising one leg makes! All of a sudden, not only does your other leg have to work harder, but your core and shoulders will feel the difference as well.
Since this is a single-leg version, you'll do 30 seconds with one leg followed by 30 more seconds with the other. If you feel one leg is weaker than the other, start with that one so you can finish strong.
Be aware of the entire body while doing this one. "When you get into that plank position, just make sure you keep your core tight and your butt isn't too far up or too tucked under," Hathaway advises.
If you can't do single-leg burpees for the full minute, just try to do as many as you can before switching to doing them with both legs.
Superset: Shoot Through and Heel Tap
Like the first exercise, you'll alternate performing 5 reps of each exercise while the clock is ticking. If you're doing this with a partner, make sure you have plenty of space. No head kicks allowed!
Believe it or not, you might find yourself smiling at this point. "The shoot throughs are so much fun," Hathaway says. "They're going to work your arms and your back and when you stand up, those heel taps are really going to get your heart pumping."
Superset: Mountain Climber and Bicycle Crunch
For many of you, these will be the most familiar exercises in the workout. Start with five mountain climbers followed by five bicycle crunches. Then, just hop back up and do it again.
"You're just going to flip back and forth until you've reached your 60 seconds," says Hathaway.
Simple enough, right? But over the course of a minute of continuous reps, you may be surprised how much you feel it.
While the mountain climbers will challenge the arms and chest, the real emphasis for this pairing is the abs. So make sure each rep you do is a good one
Superset: Bear Crawl and Burpee
The rep scheme here will change slightly, but you're still going to do serious work. Start with a 4-5-step forward bear crawl, then get up and perform a jump squat, like at the top of a burpee. Bear crawl backward to where you started, and do another burpee. That is your protocol for this minute.
The bear crawl is deceptively challenging, particularly if you haven't been doing it much, but especially at the end of this circuit as fatigue sets in.
Hathaway says, "Just make sure you have good form by keeping your knees off the ground and your core tight." You'll feel tired at the end of a minute, but explode up in each burpee.
"Rounds two and three, I promise, get a little bit easier," Hathaway promises. "But by the time you're done with round four, I hope you don't hate me."
In about 30 minutes, you've worked every muscle in the body and broken a serious sweat without ever touching a weight. Who needs the treadmill when you've got a spot of floor and Paige Hathaway to guide you?