Build Serious Endurance With This Strength-Training Workout—No Intervals Required
Strength-training intervals are pretty polarizing: You either love them or you hate them—there are few that fall in-between. Many of us consider intervals to be the holy grail of ramping up fitness fast (and make no mistake—they do!), but if you fly the flag of Team Anything-But-Intervals, we have a workout for you.© Julia Hembree Smith Think eye-crossing efforts are the only way to build your cardiovascular system? Think again.
The key to gaining endurance from this strength circuit is going immediately from one exercise into the next with no recovery between sets. This keeps your cardiovascular system working hard from beginning to end without any intense, eye-crossing efforts.
“This is an endurance plus strength circuit combined, a brutal workout (in a good way!)” says Ela Dugan, a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach in Cambridge, MA. “Keeping your heart rate elevated for the entire circuit challenges your aerobic capacity.”
Prepare for a total-body workout with an emphasis on building core strength that will transfer directly into your running performance and compliment your run training. “The circuit is especially core-dominant, which is a great way to keep the challenge high, without the need for constant impact,” says Dugan.
This format is also a plus for those of us who are short on time, trying to squeeze in a sweat session in between seemingly-endless Zoom meetings. “Keeping the rest time limited during the circuit is a great way to train efficiently,” Dugan adds. “That means you can really get a lot of bang for your buck in a pretty short period of time.” Ready to get started?
How to do this workout: Perform 3 rounds of the complete circuit below with no rest in between the exercises. Each exercise is performed by a certified trainer so you can learn the proper form. Rest for 2 minutes between each round before starting again. You don’t need any equipment for this workout, and you can do it anywhere you have enough room to plank. An exercise mat is optional.
Remember, form—not speed—is key. Don’t rush the exercises. The aim here is to build endurance, not race against the clock. Review the exercises and instructions below, and familiarize yourself with the moves before you do the workout for the first time so that you can go directly from one exercise to the next without having to stop.
Start with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Hinge at the hips and send butt back as you bend knees to lower down into a squat. Keep your knees behind the toes, and don’t arch your low back by keeping your core engaged. Press through the mid-foot and heel, squeeze your glutes and jump straight up from the squat position. Land softly and lower back down into a squat. That is 1 rep. Repeat for 15 reps.
Inchworm to Push-Up
Start in a standing position with feet hip-width apart. Hinge at the hips and bring your hands to the floor keeping your legs as straight at possible without locking your knees. Walk your hands out in front of you to come to a high plank position, with shoulders over wrists and core engaged. Bend elbows to lower chest to floor, perform a push-up, then from a high plank, walk your hands back toward your feet. Return to a standing position. That is 1 rep. Repeat for 15 reps.
High-Low Plank (see Walking Plank video)
Start in a high plank position with hands directly beneath shoulders, glutes engaged, and a braced core. Keep a soft bend in elbows. Keeping your core engaged and hips stabilized, drop left forearm to the floor, then right forearm to the floor, to come into a low plank. Keep hips as stable as possible. From low plank, hold for 1 to 2 seconds, then push yourself back up to high plank one arm at a time. Again, focus on not rocking your hips. That is 1 rep. Repeat for 15 reps.
Lie facedown in a supine position with your arms stretched out overhead, palms facing the floor. Engage your core and press your pelvis into the floor. While maintaining this engagement, squeeze your glutes and lift your legs off the floor while simultaneously lifting your arms and shoulders off the floor. Instead, focus on your glutes and hamstrings lifting your legs, and your upper back muscles lifting your arms and shoulders. Hold for 1 to 2 seconds before lowering back down. That is 1 rep. Repeat for 15 reps.
Side Plank to Thread the Needle
Start in a low side plank on left side, with left elbow directly under your shoulder. Line yourself up so there is a straight line from your ankles, knees, hips, shoulders and head. Engage your glutes and lift your hips up as high as possible. Once stable, extend the right arm straight up. Rotating from the waist and maintaining your body’s straight line, reach the right arm down and under your left underarm. Reverse the movement. That is 1 rep. Repeat for 15 reps.
Push-Up to Knee Touch
Start in a high plank with your hands directly underneath shoulders, and your core and glutes engaged. Perform a push up by bending elbows and lowering your chest to the floor. Avoid sticking your chin out towards the floor or letting your low back arch or sag. Press back up then touch right hand to left knee by drawing knee to chest. Repeat the push-up then touch left hand to right knee. Continue switching sides after each push-up. Repeat for 20 reps, 10 reps on each side.
Lie faceup and press your lower back into the floor while lifting your legs into a tabletop position so shins are parallel to floor and knees form a 90-degree angle. Place your fingertips at your temples while opening your bent elbows out to the sides. From here, peel your right shoulder up while simultaneously drawing your left knee in to chest, pulling them both towards your centerline while extending the right leg away from you. Draw right elbow to left knee. Return to center then draw left elbow to right knee. Don’t let your lower back lose contact with the floor. That is 1 rep. Repeat for 15 reps.
Hollow Hold to V-Sit
Lie faceup on the floor. Engage your core to peel both your upper body and feet straight up to come to a hollow hold. From there, draw knees in to chest so legs come to tabletop position with shins parallel to floor and knees forming a 90-degree angle as you simultaneously lift shoulders higher. Your body should form a V. Keep both arms extended straight towards your feet, and your shoulders relaxed. Lower back to the hollow hold. That is 1 rep. Repeat for 15 reps.
Drop into a lunge position by stepping your right leg forward and bending both legs to 90-degree angles, so left knee hovers above the floor. Keep chest lifted and the right knee centered over the ankle. From here, explosively jump straight up and switch legs in the air, landing softly in a lunge with your left leg in front and right knee hovering. That is 1 rep. Repeat for 20 reps. Rest for two minutes before repeating the entire circuit from the top.