Many of us live busy lives, which means that our time in the gym can be limited. If you’re looking to maximize the moves you do during your precious gym time, look no further than these 2-in-1 exercises recommended by Les Mills trainer James Thomas. For targeting those stomach and back areas, James recommends intensity workouts like burpees and front squats. Here’s how to do them for the best body results:
"Burpees are one of my favorite exercises!" James says, explaining that they are a "simple movement" that is such an effective full-body workout. Combining strength, cardio and power training, burpees "hit every major muscle group making them an excellent choice for an interval based workout, your heart rate will elevate and your lungs will strengthen," he explains. Not only will you see gains in your strength from doing burpees, but in your cardio endurance as well. And, as an added bonus, there are many ways to manipulate the intensity of them.
How to do it: For a strong burpee, we start with feet just outside hip width. Drop butt back and down to sit into a squat position, keeping the chest lifted and bracing the core hard. From here, reach your hands to the floor as you kick your legs back into a plank. We really need to brace the core here as it will support your lower back. Drive the knees forward pressing up into a squat, jumping your feet to where your hands were. You can either stand up tall here, or jump up from the squat for some added intensity. If you are jumping, be sure to absorb your landing by bending your knees, or continuing the squat burpee moving right into a squat again.
Clean And Press
"Another top choice exercise for me is a clean and press," James says. "This improves muscular strength and power all while driving your heart rate up into an athletic training zone." This exercise works all major muscle groups in the lower and upper body at once, and the full movement also "relies heavily on strong core engagement," he says.
How to do it: Start with feet under hips and a soft knee bend. Explosively pull your weight up to your collarbones keeping it close to your body, leading with the elbows. At the same time, begin to sit butt back and down into a squat. Flip your elbows down, racking the weight close to your collarbones. From here, use your legs to drive the bar up and overhead. Keep your abs in a strong brace and track your biceps slightly forward of your ears. Catch the bar back down on your collarbones and while bracing your abs sit back and down into a squat to absorb the weight. Keeping the weight close to your body, bring the weight back down to its starting position.
"The training focus for front squats can shift toward either power and cardio, or toward a heavier strength training focus," James explains. There are variations to this, such as a goblet squat to a barbell front squat, he says. "Regardless of the variation, your body is still front-loaded and gaining all the benefits from this position. The way the load is distributed in this squat variation is what draws me to use a front rack more frequently. You will immediately feel your core lock in and tense up to support the weight racked at your collarbones, even more than a back squat. Your low, mid and upper back all engage, without the added stress of a bar pressing down on your back. You’ll feel some activation in your arms and shoulders as you support your weight of choice. A front squat also promotes strong form as it forces you to stay upright training safely through the reps. The quick of it, a front squat will train into your core, back and upper body along with all the same lower body training, without the added stress of having a bar on your back."
How to do it: Begin with feet just outside hip width, and toes angled slightly out. Keep your weight close to your collarbones (grip will depend on the type of variation being performed). Perform the motion of a squat, sitting butt back and down just above the knee line. As you lower, press your knees out to be in line with toes and brace the abs real hard. Your chest will be forced to stay lifted to support the weight in front. From the bottom of the squat, press through your heels and drive back up to a standing position while maintaining your core brace.