Words by Mark Laws
“Ohhhh the weather outside is frightful…”, all the more reason to stay inside. Dark mornings, dark afternoons, de-icing the car every morning – it can only mean one thing…winter is here! After a long hard day at work you would be forgiven for being tempted to skip the gym and head straight home. We are supposed to fatten up a bit over Christmas anyway, right? But is it possible to have your proverbial cake and eat it? Well, for those of you that do want to keep on top of your training throughout the winter but don’t want to venture out in the cold any more than necessary, here is an early Christmas present from your old mate Santa cLaws.
First things first, this workout needs to be easy to learn and quick to carry out, leaving you as much time as possible to plan your Christmas.
Secondly, it needs to be something capable of challenging your body as much (if not more) than your normal gym routine.
Finally, it needs to be something that you find enjoyable, so you are more likely to stick to it.
In my opinion there is only one winner – bodyweight suspension training. Minimal equipment needed, maximum results yielded. Suspension systems don’t have to cost an arm and a leg, in fact even if you are saving all your pennies for your mum’s presents I guarantee there is something laying around the house that you could use, like a large towel or rope from the garage… with a little ingenuity even a spare bedsheets can be folded up and used to perform these drills (if you can’t work out how email me and I will show you firstname.lastname@example.org).
Bodyweight suspension training came into the mainstream after a Navy Seal tied his parachute straps around a branch in the jungle. In order to maintain the strength required to perform his duties, Randy Hetrick created a device that was light enough to be transported anywhere, was small enough to fit into his backpack and was versatile enough to challenge his elite level of fitness. The TRX was born and bodyweight suspension training was officially here. Ten years on, and there are a dozens of similar products on the market capable of achieving the same thing. Luckily, you don’t have to go to the jungle and you don’t have to spend a fortune. The Jungle Gym XT is available from www.jordanfitness.co.uk for £106.80…or you can look around your house and make something yourself…
As you can see from the photos over the page, it is possible to use a bed sheet, towel or piece of rope for all of the exercises in my workout. Whatever you use, please ensure it is secured safely to an anchor point and whatever you have secured it to must also be strong enough to take your weight. Doors, stairs or exposed beams will work perfectly. The dual strap design of the Jungle Gym XT (pictured right) allows for a huge range of progressions on all exercises and has a built in door anchor that can be used safely even on a wardrobe door, so there really is no excuse not to find somewhere in your home to do this workout.
Perform 3 sets of 10 of each exercise. Once these become second nature, then try the exercises on the right hand side. Maybe reduce the reps to allow for the added difficulty.
Keep the weight on the balls of your feet, face away from the anchor point and stay strong throughout your entire body maintaining a straight line from ankles to earlobes. Bend at the elbow lowering your chest towards the floor and then push back up to starting position. Move feet forwards to make it easier. Move feet backwards to increase intensity.
Start with slightly wider foot position to ensure stability. Turn towards the handle slightly so your sternum moves directly towards the handle during the downwards phase.
Lie on your back with both feet anchored around 12-18 inches off the floor. Lift the hips up towards the ceiling maintaining that straight line from ankles to earlobes again. Now curl your heels towards your backside and say ‘hello’ to your hamstrings.
This is not for the faint hearted but will work wonders for reducing any imbalances between your dominant and non-dominant side. Same set up as before but now only one foot is secured. Lay back and enjoy…