This transforming workout torches calories, builds lean muscle, and unwinds your mind so thoroughly, you forget about everything else.
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“You have to continually challenge yourself to do one more rep until a buzzer sounds,” says Jesse Jones, Basecamp’s programme director. Crushing your goal becomes the only task that occupies your mind."
You made it to the gym. Great! But now, a little real talk: No zoning out! Just going through the motions during a workout could mean you’re cheating both your body and your brain out of the beneﬁts of a good sweat – exactly the detox you need in a manic month. Yet, get your head into your sets and reps – and out of your daily to-dos – and suddenly we’re talking about a true mental cleanse that allows you to really push it and rev your burn, spike your ﬁtness, and budge your muscles to the next level of sculptitude.
“When you’re preoccupied with things like ‘Did I answer my boss’s e-mail?’ or ‘I need to remember to buy that gift,’ your energy starts to diminish as the stresses of life creep in and eventually take over your workout,” says Jesse Jones, programme director of Basecamp Fitness in the US. You may have experienced this mental drift during a long run, a solo weight-machine circuit, or whenever you hit a steady rhythm.
But divvy your workout into bits in which the intensity is turned up – way up – and you won’t be bothered with anything except “How many seconds do I have left to reach my reps target?” That’s the laser focus you want to have because it makes the changes happen, Jesse explains. When you’re forced to think only about the task at hand, it allows you to fully harness every ounce of calorie-burning and muscle-carving power you’ve got to accomplish it.
At Basecamp, Jesse and programme manager Ian Armond developed a rapid-ﬁre total-body routine called The Threshold that is guaranteed to get you into the headclearing zone. They take members through it once a month to track their progress.
It goes like this: Work at your absolute max during a one-minute strength move, then catch your breath for one minute with some low-intensity cardio. For the recovery minutes, Basecamp uses the stationary Assault Air Bike with a fan that generates more wind resistance the faster you pedal, but any steady cardio will do. With every interval, your mission is to rack up the most reps possible.
Chasing those one-minute goals is the trick that keeps your intensity through the roof and your mind in the game. You set a benchmark; you try to beat it the next session. Repeat.
“It also lets you measure your progress by indicators, like endurance and strength, that go beyond a ﬂatter belly or a tighter butt, which can sometimes take longer to see,” Jesse says. “And having concrete proof that you’re improving each week helps motivate you to keep at it.”
Jesse and Ian have boiled The Threshold down to a fast and furious 20 minutes just for Shape readers. But rather than save it for once a month, you can do this more compact workout once a week. And even that small commitment will make a big difference. For starters, there’s the monster fat burn – more than eight calories per minute – both during and following the workout. “You’ll continue expending calories at a higher rate for hours after you ﬁnish,” Ian says. Plus, you’ll ﬁre up every major muscle for a concentrated dose of ﬁrming.
Just one rule: Give it all you’ve got during each strength move. That means pushing hard for the entire minute, gunning to beat your previous score. “Even if it’s just by one more rep than you did last week, you’re going to experience a mental rush,” Ian says.
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“We settled on one-minute intervals because that’s about the time when your muscles start to say, ‘Okay, we’re done now,’” Jesse says. “When you push past one minute, individual muscle groups get tired, and it usually leads to a breakdown in form.”
Warm up for ﬁve to 10 minutes by doing dynamic stretches – lunges with rotation, plus arm and leg swings – to loosen and activate muscles. Then start a one-minute timer and do as many reps of the ﬁrst move as you can in that time. Record your score when done (on paper or into your phone) and start the timer again for one minute of active recovery: Jog in place, jump rope, or ride a stationary bike. Repeat this process until you have completed all 10 moves. Finish with a ﬁve- to 10-minute cool-down of static stretching. Save your score and retest yourself with this same process one week later to see how much you’ve improved.
1 SQUAT ONE-TWO PUNCH
2 CRISS-CROSS SQUAT
3 T PUSH-UP
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7 LUNGE KICK
9 SQUAT HOLD
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