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I'm a runner on most days, but like many of you, I've been cooped up all winter (and for the better part of last year because of the pandemic). Meaning, I've had a lot of excess energy that I'd normally work off on my runs hanging around at the end of the day. To help me release some of that stir-crazy energy, I've been turning to some strength training and more high-intensity workouts.
Because I wanted to build a more regular regimen at home, I turned to LA-based ACE-certified personal trainer Morgan Rees to learn five moves I can safely — and quietly — do from my Brooklyn apartment and still get that intense release. I've been adding in these movements in a series when I find myself with excess energy at the end of the day — or after a particularly long afternoon of virtual meetings — and I can assure you, together or separately, these moves can be real stress relievers.
1. Standing Long Jump
"Obviously [you] need the space for this, but it's an explosive movement that challenges your fast twitch muscles and your ability to stick the landing," Rees said. "Doing just a few of these in a row will challenge your cardiovascular system."
- Lower yourself into a squat position.
- Swing your arms back and use them to propel yourself forward as they swing into a forward motion.
- Push off the ground with your feet jumping as far forward as you can.
- Land softly with both feet touching the ground before you take off for your second rep.
- Complete eight to 10 reps for three sets.
"You knew this one was coming!" she said. "There are many different versions of this move that you can do. I typically have my clients start in a prone position on the ground. They have to create enough explosive power to push themselves from the floor in order for the feet to land sturdily in a squat position."
- Lay on the ground in a prone position with your hands on either side of your chest pressing into the ground.
- Push yourself off of the ground until your arms are relatively straight.
- Tuck your knees to your chest and land with them firmly planted on the floor in a squat position.
- Bend over and go back into a push-up position by stepping your feet out behind you and not jumping to your starting position.
- Complete 10-12 reps for three sets.
3. Mountain Climbers
"This will extensively test your cardiovascular and muscular endurance," Rees said. "It's a continuous movement that relies heavily on core stability and muscular endurance throughout the entire body."
- Get into a push-up position with your arms straight.
- Push your upper body away from the floor with your hands and raise your hips so that your spine is neutral — essentially in a plank position.
- There should be no pressure on your lower back if you are properly aligning your hips.
- Begin to bring your knees up in an alternating movement while keeping your upper body stable.
- Pro tip: make sure that you don't bring your knees up high enough to cause your pelvis to tilt under.
- Do the movement for 30 seconds for 3 sets.
"It's not an explosive movement, but it requires an immense amount of composure and focus," Rees explained. "If you were doing a proper plank, your core will be shaking along with the rest of your body. Your low back should have no pressure on it and there should be no pain in that area. You can do this move on your hands or your elbows. If you have sensitive wrists I recommend doing this move on your elbows."
- Plant your hands or elbows in line with your shoulders.
- Pro tip: if you feel like there's too much pressure on your shoulders when doing this, you can move your hands or elbows slightly higher.
- Grind your toes into the floor and squeeze your glutes. The most important part of a plank is pulling your hips inward.
- Hold for 30-60 seconds for three sets; according to Rees, 60 seconds should be plenty difficult. If not, reassess to make sure that you are doing the movement properly.
5. High Knees
"You certainly don't need much space for this move — you are essentially sprinting in place," Rees said. "Easy? I think not. When your lower body is performing a sprinting motion, your upper body must maintain stability. That is why athletes look superb while performing this move. They've been taught to stabilize their hips and core while moving their legs."
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Push away from the ground in order to bring one knee up.
- As soon as that leg gets closer to the ground, prepare to push away from the ground with your offset foot.
- Continue this motion at whatever pace works best for you.
- Pro tip: if your hips start to dip back and forth or you do not feel stable, either slow down the move or work on hip mobility exercises to enable your hips to generate more power. "Be patient with this movement as it can take time to adopt," Rees added.
- Complete for 20-30 seconds for three sets.
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