Need to burn fat but have bad knees? That may be a blessing in disguise. Too many athletes focus on running as their only conditioning option. That is an inefficient use of the many low-tech options available to you as a garage athlete. Before I get into the meat of this post, I’ve got to shout out Anna Woods because the video of her practicing double unders was what inspired this post.
Now I’m trying to tell you that running doesn’t work. Jogging, sprinting, even walking with a weighted vest all work. But they all take time and unless you use a treadmill require distance. So what if you’re short on time or can’t leave the house for some reason? In peak condition, I could run three miles in 21 minutes, nowadays it’s probably more like 26 minutes. So if I take off running I’m half a mile from home in about thirteen minutes and I’m only at the halfway point! No bueno if I’ve just put my kid down for a nap and I’m the only adult at home. So here are my go to alternatives to running away from home.
Ah! The humble jump rope. Now I freely admit that I never mastered the art of jumping rope or doing double unders as the CrossFitters like to say. Even when I was a fighter, I struggled with the coordination necessary to jump rope successfully. But for our purposes that makes it a good thing because to paraphrase Coach Dan John the harder it is to do a movement the more calories you
burn doing the movement. Or more specifically, the less efficient you are at something, the more muscle it takes to get it done and the more calories you’ll burn trying. Jumping rope is an excellent solution for when you need to get your conditioning in and you don’t have a lot of time or you need to stay in a specific location such as the next room while your baby is asleep. The other thing I like about it is even if you get good at it, you can always just increase the time so it still meets your needs if you can’t leave where you are. It’s not necessarily friendly to the shins and knees so if that’s your reason for not wanting to run, you should probably leave jumping rope alone until those issues are addressed. But I bet you can punch the air…
Since I’ve got you thinking with a combat mindset anyway consider shadow boxing? I admit that if you are in a commercial gym and you start throwing punches and kicks at the air people will look at you strangely. But you are a garage athlete so who’s going to look at you strange? Your cat or dog? So what? After all that you control the food supply. One thing to be careful about is to avoid hyper-extending your elbows when you throw punches so I would avoid going to full extension and if you have shoulder issues you don’t want to rotate the punch past a quarter turn from vertical. Do these in timed rounds and all you need for that is a stop watch and enough room to avoid hitting something. Add in head fakes, circling and bobbing and weaving to engage the legs and I promise you that a few three to five minute rounds will be all you need. But let’s say you don’t think you’re coordinated enough to defeat attacking oxygen molecules. Okay, here’s something we’ve all done before that will fit the bill for you…
Sometimes more commonly known as animal movements crawling is just as tough as it was when you were in gym class (if you’re old enough to remember that sort of thing). Bear crawls, crab walks, Spider-Man crawls, lizard crawls and leopard crawls are all excellent ways to burn calories and reset your motor skills. In fact there’s an excellent DVD on the topic called Pressing Reset by Geoff Neupert and Tim Anderson of Original Strength. They hold seminars to teach people how to
reconnect with the ability to get on the ground and move the way a baby learns to walk. Crawling offers additional benefits in that it helps reconnect our upper and lower body together the same way it does for babies who are first learning to walk. And quite frankly too many adults lose the ability to get up off the ground . You might laugh but it’s true. I know simply getting on the ground and getting back up may not seem like much but there’s a reason why they have football players & wrestlers do it every day. If you’re somebody who is fairly sedentary at work this is an excellent way to rediscover your inner athlete without a lot of other movements which are not kind to seasoned joint capsules. An excellent source for information on how far you can take animal movements is Vahva Fitness on YouTube.
Things Are. Mountain climbers, jumping jacks or side shuttle hops if you prefer a military Target, Hello Dolly, Windmills, In-N-Outs, the list is only limited by your imagination. If you do not have an imagination you can borrow @working_womans_workout’s. She has a new time efficient, usually bodyweight only exercise circuit every day on her Instagram feed that will help get your heart rate and waistline moving in the right direction.
So there you have it: Four conditioning options that don’t require you to leave your living room. Personally I like to switch things up every two weeks. Why? Because I hate cardio but I can put up with anything for 2 weeks. If you find that you enjoy a particular training modality we can always do it 4430 days but I still recommend switching to something else every month so that you don’t become neurally efficient and decrease the conditioning effectiveness of the movement protocol.
Here’s one quick example: A sedentary adult with knee issues might start out with simply getting on the floor then getting back up as quickly as possible. Then they’d progress to basic crawling the length of their living room. After thirty days of that, move to shadow boxing incorporating movement. Two weeks after that, go back to crawling until month’s end. The next month try light calisthenics for two weeks and back to crawling, trying some of the more advanced crawls this time. Set a distance goal and crawl until you get it. Then switch back to shadow boxing for two weeks and finish up with learning the basics of jumping rope. Set a goal for number of skips without a mistake. Keep at it for four weeks or until you reach your goal whichever comes first.
Simple yet effective and you’re still in the house for when the cable guy finally shows up.
Post in the comments what your favorite conditioning ideas are for when you’re stuck in the house.