The Cardio Sculpt Workout
A workout to tone every muscle in your body with minimal equipment. But this is no cakewalk. Be prepared to sweat.
BY MAHRI RELIN, BODY CONCEPTIONS NYC
This workout gives you a combination of cardio and sculpting exercises, and it can be done in any gym or living room. Just bring a mat or towel, small weights (2-3 lbs), and a timer (which can be found on most smart phones). Altogether, you will raise your heart rate, target and tone every muscle in the body, and increase your flexibility as well.
I really believe in the power of music, so I recommend picking a playlist of 10-12 of your favorite songs that really inspire you to move. Medium-fast tempos are preferable, and I recommend trying to coordinate your movements/pulses with the beat of the music. You will have lots more fun and will probably be able to push yourself harder as well!
Begin with some dynamic stretches! Dynamic stretches involve moving smoothly through different positions to bring warmth, flexibility, and circulation to your muscles and range of motion to your joints to prevent injury. These movements might have gentle similarities to the exercises you will be doing, like arms circles, lunges, side-to-side reaches, rolling up and down the spine, knee lifts, ankle circles, etc.
Tabata-Style Interval Circuit:
Tabata-style circuits are fabulous for burning calories, raising your heart-rate quickly and safely, and getting sufficient cardio for the day in a short amount of time.
For this circuit, complete each exercise for 20 seconds at the highest intensity you can do, then rest in between for 10 seconds before moving to the next exercise. Repeat this circuit twice.
a) Jumping Jacks: 20 seconds, 10 second rest
b) Jump Squats: 20 seconds, 10 second rest
c) Mountain Climbers: 20 seconds, 10 second rest
d) Ice Skaters: 20 seconds, 10 second rest
Jumping jacks – Standard format. Make sure you keep your knees over your toes, your abs engaged, and your shoulders relaxed.
Jump Squats: Begin with the legs hip distance apart in a squat position with your chest reaching forward, your abs engaged, and your tailbone reaching back. Keep your core engaged as you jump up explosively. When you land, make sure your knees are tracking over your toes and you land fully through your feet. An alternative to this exercise is to pulse up and down in a squat position rather than jumping.
Mountain Climbers: Begin in a high plank (hands and toes on the ground) with your shoulders over your wrists and your hips in line with your spine. Quickly pull one knee into your chest, then switch legs at a running pace. An alternative is to slowly pull each knee into your chest, or hold the plank for 20 seconds.
Ice Skaters: Start with your right leg in front (slightly turned out) and your left leg crossed behind you, your upper body leaning forward, and your left arm reaching down to the ground. From here, jump up explosively to the other side and land with your left foot on front, your right leg crossing behind, and your right arm reaching down towards the ground.
The following exercises should be done with 2-3 lb weights. Full water bottles also work. Keep your abs engaged, chest open, and shoulders down with shoulder blades melting down the back. Keep your knees slightly bent to avoid locking, and stand with your feet hip distance apart.
a) Lateral Arm Circles: Holding a weight in each hand, reach your arms out to each side with your elbows slightly bent. Keeping this shape, circle your arms backwards 30 times, then forwards 30 times
b) Forward Reaches with Twists: Begin with your hands by your hips and your palms facing up (with the weights), and your elbows pulled back. Reach your arms straight forward while twisting your hands so that your palms face down when the arms are extended. Pull your arms back in, and repeat 40 times.
c) Triceps Arm Pulses: Bend forward at the waist with your knees slightly bent, your chest reaching forward, and your tailbone reaching back. Extend your arms straight behind you and lift them slightly above your hips with your palms facing each other. Pulse your arms together with small movements 60 times.
The key to these exercise is to keep your knees and toes facing forward, your abs engaged, and your chest open with your shoulder blades melting down your back (instead of tensing and lifting your shoulders up towards your ears).
Begin in a parallel lunge with your left leg forward. Keep your back right knee aligned below your hips, and keep your left knee aligned above your left heel. Do not let your back foot turn out to the side. And make sure you pulse directly up and down rather than forward and back. If you feel knee strain at any point, do not bend as deeply. COMPLETE ALL THREE EXERCISES ON ONE LEG BEFORE SWITCHING TO THE OTHER LEG
a) Pulses in Parallel Lunge: Hold your lunge with your hands in prayer position, your chest open, and your abs engaged. Pulse up and down 40 times.
b) Toe Taps Forward and Back: Shift your weight forward onto your front left foot with your hands kept in prayer position and your right leg extended straight behind you in a longer lunge. Tap your right foot forward and then tap it back to a straight leg. Repeat the taps in and out 40 times.
c) Diagonal Arm Reaches: Keep your weight forward in a deep lunge with your left knee bent and your right leg straight. Start with both hands on your hips. Bend forward and reach your right hand across your body to the ground in front of your left foot. Then lift back up to your hips. Repeat these arm reaches 24 times. REPEAT ON THE OPPOSITE LEG.
Using a mat or large towel, lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet on the ground hip distance apart. Lightly support your head in your hands with your elbows out to each side, your chest open, and your lower abs pulled into your spine. Try to pull in with your abs instead of pushing out as you execute these exercises. If you feel any strain on your lower back, feel free to lift your legs higher or bend your knees more. And take breaks if you need to in the plank position.
a) Upper Body Lifts with Leg Extensions: Lift your legs into a tabletop position and hold your head in your hands. As you lift your upper body/shoulder blades off the mat, extend your legs straight out. (If you can’t straighten your legs completely, you can keep a slight bend.) Return your upper body back to the mat and your legs back to tabletop. Repeat 24 times.
b) Extended bicycle twists with Pulses: Return to tabletop position and lift your upper body slightly off the ground with your hands behind your head. Twist your chest to the right while pulling your right knee into your chest and straightening your left leg above the ground. Holding this twisted position and looking right, kick out your left leg 10 times. Hold your twist the other way and repeat with the right leg 10 times. Repeat this whole set 4 times.
c) Plank with Twists: This exercise can be done on your forearms or up on your hands depending your preference and wrist strength. Begin in a plank position with your hips in line with your spine. Lift your hips up and over to the right side, then up and over to the left side. Don’t touch your hips all the way to the ground when you twist. Repeat each set right and left 20 times.
For this section, fold up the back of your mat or towel and come to hands and knees. If you have wrist pain, feel free to come down to your forearms. Keep your shoulders square during these exercises and try to keep tension out of your shoulders and neck. Engage your abs and extend long through the back of your knees without locking them. Your legs should be slightly turned out with your working hips slightly lifted but not stacked open to the side. COMPLETE ALL THREE EXERCISES ON ONE LEG BEFORE SWITCHING TO THE OTHER LEG.
a) Hydrant to Extension: Come to your hands and knees, and extend your right leg straight behind you. Pull your right knee towards your shoulder, keeping your knee lifted to the side as you bend it in. Then return the leg straight behind you. Repeat 25 times.
b) Toe Tap Rainbows: Return to hands and knees, and place your right leg straight out diagonally behind you to the right side with your toes on the ground. Keeping your knees straight, lift your leg up and over to the left side and place your toes on the ground to the left. Lift up and over and return to the right side again. Repeat this rainbow pattern 20 times.
c) Straight Leg Pulses on Forearms: Come down to your forearms, and extend your right leg straight back. Since your upper body is tilted forward, you can lift your leg higher than hip level. Keeping your leg straight and abs engaged, pulse the leg up and down 40 times. REPEAT ON THE OPPOSITE LEG.
You should always take time to stretch after your workouts, preferably focusing on the muscles you targeted. have given you ideas below, but feel free to add or change them depending on what works for you. Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds.
a) Lunge with Knee Down: Lunge forward on the right leg, and place your left knee on the ground. In this position, you can keep both hands on the ground, reach up to the sky with both arms and arch back, or place your right hand down to the ground and lift your left arm up and over to the right. Repeat on the other side.
b) Legs Extended Forward: Sit with both legs straight in front of you, and reach your hands towards your toes. Try to keep your chest reaching forward, and breathe into your hamstrings.
c) Figure-4: Sit back with your hands on the ground behind you and with both feet flat on the ground in front of you and your knees bent. Pick up your right foot, and place it across your left knee. Lift your chest and pull your body/pelvis forward. Repeat on the other side.
d) Twists: Lie flat on the ground with both legs straight. Pull your right knee into your chest, then pull it across your body to the ground on the left. Extend both arms out to the side and look to the right. Repeat on the other side.
e) Shoulder Stretch: Sit up in a cross-legged position, roll your shoulders back, and clasp your hands behind you. You can slightly lower your head forward to enhance the stretch.
LEARN MORE ABOUT MAHRI RELIN’S BODY CONCEPTIONS HERE.