The phys-ed workout

Looking for a new way to melt fat, burn calories and get stronger? Kick it old-school’literally’ and add some classic calisthenics to your next workout, plus learn how to do each exercise with our instructional videos

The phys-ed workout

Source: Web exclusive, June 2010

Remember phys ed? The exercises you did on the school’s sports field weren’t just for fun’they also gave you a great full-body workout. If you’re looking for a new way to shake up your fitness routine, try exercising like a kid again. These phys-ed inspired moves are great for building cardiovascular endurance and increasing agility, coordination and strength.

For the full workout, perform two sets of each exercise (10 repetitions is one set), resting for 10 seconds between sets. Follow up with a 15-minute jog to get the full P.E. experience. Need a coach? Watch the videos to see how each move is properly executed.

1. High knees

Nothing warms up the body and gets the blood flowing like a good old-fashioned high-knee run. From a standing position, start slowly by lifting each knee, alternating, to hip height. Gradually pick up the pace to a light jog, pushing off with the ball of the foot and landing with heels down. Arms are bent and relaxed, hands are held in a loose fist (not clenched). Be sure to keep knees high throughout.

Variation: Increase the heat and power by punching arms above the head.

2. Burpees

The burpee is a dynamic full-body blaster that incorporates strength and cardio in one exercise, Standing with feet hip-width apart, drop down to a squat and place both hands flat on ground just in front of you. Jump your feet back to fully extend your legs parallel to the floor, moving into a push-up position. Hands are under your shoulders, core is firm and hips are down. Next, jump legs forward, back to original squat position and stand up. Repeat.

Variation 1: To decrease intensity, legs may be walked back individually when moving into push-up stance.

Variation 2: To make the move more intense, add a hop after moving into standing position.

3. Jump rope

Scorch maximum calories with this schoolyard favourite’but make sure your technique is more boxer-in-training than little-girl-in-the-playground. Firmly grasp each handle of the rope, palms facing forward at hip height, rope resting behind feet. Swing rope overhead and push off with the ball of the right foot. Bring rope around again and push off with the left foot. With each rotation, focus on your feet landing quietly, with a singular bounce. Circling the wrists very quickly will allow a smooth gate.

Variation: Try hopping on one foot for an eight count, then switching sides.

4. Crab walk

This fun and funny-looking exercise gets your heart revving while using body-weight resistance to engage your core as well as your upper and lower body. Sit with your hands placed approximately six inches behind your glutes, fingers are facing towards your body. Feet are flat on ground and knees are bent and positioned a bit wider than hip-distance apart. Keeping shoulders away from the ears, lift hips up off the ground to a low tabletop position. Start by walking right arm and left leg back then follow with the opposite side. Crab walk eight paces back, then eight paces forward. Make sure to keep your core engaged to protect your lower back.

Variation: Engage muscles laterally by moving sideways to the left and right.

5. Floor jacks

This variation on the standing jumping jack builds stamina and strengthens your core. Start in a push-up position with your body long, hips low, and shoulder blades relaxed down your back. Then jump legs out into a wide ‘v.’ Next, hop legs back to starting position, creating a supported prone jumping jack. Repeat.

Variation: Ratchet this exercise into high gear by pulling legs towards the upper body from a push-up position, into a hand braced squat. Concentrate on using abdominals to pull lower limbs towards upper body. Next, jump knees back to starting position.

6. Sprint drills

Channel your inner competitive athlete with this high-intensity training practice. Choose three landmarks in an open area (three fence posts, for example). Each landmark should be about 10 meters apart from each other in a straight line. Sprint to the first landmark, stop and touch the ground, turn around and race back to your starting point. Brake at the original start point, touch the ground again and repeat the drill to the second landmark. Repeat until you’ve sprinted to each of your three landmarks.

Tip: Keep a steady pace with this leg strengthening, cardio-fuelled exercise.

Rory Lindo is a certified fitness instructor based in Toronto.

Videos recorded using a flip video camcorder.

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