Health and Fitness: Simple workouts to get you moving in spring

BASIC GEAR: You don't need a truckload of equipment to get a good workout. You might be surprised to see how hard you can work just with some cones and a set of dumbbells.
BASIC GEAR: You don't need a truckload of equipment to get a good workout. You might be surprised to see how hard you can work just with some cones and a set of dumbbells.

You might have decided this spring is the season to conquer your health goals but getting started could prove the biggest hurdle.

There could be a range of barriers to this including:

  • Fees – boot camps, gym memberships and the like are in my opinion an investment in your health, but they are not cheap and cost could be stopping you from committing.
  • Being overwhelmed – walking into a gym for the first time or joining a new fitness group can be intimidating if you are new to the environment and not confident in your surrounds.
  • Time – you might be motivated by an instructor but find you can’t seem to find a class that fits into your schedule.

Not knowing what you are doing in a certain class might also prevent you from going back. I am a big fan of functional training classes, which are pretty popular at many gyms and fitness groups, but some sessions can get confusing if they are overcomplicated with too many instructions, gear and moves to remember.

If the classes are similar each week then you should be able to pick it up quickly and will know what you are doing more confidently after a few sessions. 

But you don’t really want to leave feeling like you haven’t had a workout because you were trying to actually work out what you were meant to be doing.

Simple exercise with limited gear and time can give you a good workout. Less thinking, more moving.

Get yourself a set of dumbbells and a set of cones and leave them in your car. You can do a lot with the basics.

Here are some ‘Four-cone workouts’ that can be done at the park for free.

Set up the cones in a square, roughly 30 metres by 30 metres. You can adjust this to suit. Cones in a clockwise direction are A, B, C and D. Draw it to picture it.

Session 1: Part 1: 10 minutes continuous zigzag x [walk A-B, jog diagonally B-D, walk D-C, jog diagonally C-A]. Part 2: 10min continuous running or walking clockwise around with 5 squats at A, 5 push-ups at B, 5 bent-over rows with dumbbells at C, 5 ab crunches at D. Part 3: 10min x [jog A-B, walking lunges B-C, sprint C-D, walk D-A].

Session 2: Part 1: 10min continuous x [walking lunges A-B, 10 push-ups, jog B-C, 10 bent-over rows, walking lunges C-D, 10 shoulder press, run backwards D-A]. Part 2: 10 squats, run a full lap, 9 squats, run a full lap, continue all the way down to 1 squat and full lap. Part 3: 2min x [run A-B, jog backwards B-A, run A-D, jog backwards D-A]. Rest 1min, repeat. Finish with 5min core work.

Session 3: Part 1: 10 squats with alternating single-arm shoulder press, 10 push-ups, 20 alternating lunges, 10 bent-over rows with dumbbells, 4 x [run A-B, diagonally backwards B-D, run D-C, run diagonally backwards C-A] Repeat twice. Part 2: 10 squat jumps, jog A-B, 10 mountain climbers or standing shuffles, jog B-C, 5 burpees, jog C-D, 20 ab rotation with weights, jog D-A, 10 burpees, walk a full lap. Repeat four times.

Session 4: Start with 20 squats with alternating single arm shoulder press, 20 shoulder throws with light dumbbells, 20 bent-over rows, 20 jump lunges, 20 ab rotation with weights, run/walk 10 full laps. Next set 16 of each exercise with 8 laps, then 12 and 6 laps, 8 and 4 laps, finish with 4 and 2 laps.

Session 5: Part 1: 20min continuous x [5 squats, run A-B, 10 squat jumps, run B-C, 5 bent-over rows, run C-D, 20 high knees on the spot, run D-A, 5 push-ups, bear crawl A-B, 5 burpees, run backwards B-C, 10 lunges with biceps curl, walking lunges C-D, 10 ab crunches, run D-A]. Part 2: Moving clockwise. Sprint A-B, jog around to A; sprint A-C, jog around to A, sprint A-D, jog to A, sprint A-A full lap, walk a lap. Repeat. 

As it gets warmer, there are also some considerations to make while exercising.

Ensure you are consuming enough fluid before, during and after your workout. Exercise in cooler parts of the day if you can, or find some shade, and choose lighter weight clothing options.

Upcoming Fitness Events

Tomaree Trail Run Festival, Fingal Bay, September 23: Courses include a half marathon, 11.5km, 6km and kids event. The scenic trails are through Tomaree National Park, the Samurai Dunes and Fingal Bay beaches.

Fernleigh 15, Fernleigh Track, October 21: A 15-kilometre course along the iconic Fernleigh Track. You can do the whole course as an individual or a team of five with change-over zones at each railway station along the track.

Maitland Triathlon, Morperth, November 4: There will be a middle, standard (Olympic) and sprint distance. The Summer Run 10km is also on the schedule.

Spring Sessions Week #3

If you have set yourself a spring challenge, you will have roughly 11 weeks to go. If you haven’t then it’s never too late to get started. Add a warm-up and cool-down to this session:

Part 1: 10 x 150-metre runs on 1 minute (if it takes you 50 seconds, for example, you will have a 10-second rest before the next effort. Adjust the time to suit your fitness level);

Part 2: 20 x 40m runs continuous with 5 push-ups and 5 ab curls at opposite changes;

Part 3: 5 squats, 5 bent-over or horizontal rows, walking lunges 10m, jog backwards 10m, run hard 50m and walk back to start. Repeat 6 times.

Send your health and fitness news to r.valentine@fairfaxmedia.com.au.

Renee Valentine is a writer, qualified personal trainer and mother of three.