When it comes to basic training, bootcamp workouts are one of the best ways to get in shape fast. It’s why the military devised this type of exercise as a form of conditioning for troops initially, hence its name. But you don’t have to be a solider to benefit from bootcamp workouts. They’re ideal for anyone who’s looking to build endurance (both muscular and cardio).
What’s more, learning how to create a bootcamp workout yourself is easy because they all follow a simple pattern of alternating circuits that consist of a combination of cardio and strength-training exercises. Because of this, bootcamp workouts are easy to modify or customize to your fitness level and time based on how many rounds of circuits you do.
The most important thing to remember when you’re creating a bootcamp workout at home is safety. Even endurance athletes get tired after doing something for 45 minutes to an hour, so it’s important to pace yourself, use lighter weights, and rely on keeping good form. Remember: The goal is to build endurance from where you are now. If you’re new to fitness or bootcamp, take breaks and hydrate.
I recommend doing bootcamp workouts a maximum of twice weekly, with other activities, like strength and mobility training, two or more times weekly for best results. If your goals are general conditioning, you can stick to bootcamps more than twice weekly, just be sure to stretch beyond the typically short cooldowns classes provide. If at some point your goals become more specific, you may want to consult with a trainer on how to bridge the gap.
I’ve designed the all-levels bootcamp workout below to be done using bodyweight or a pair of dumbbells if you have them.
Time: 30–60 minutes
Equipment: mat, dumbbells
Good for: total-body conditioning
Instructions: This bootcamp workout has seven circuits, which you will complete for a total of 3–6 times rounds, performing 10–15 reps of each move. Rest for one minute in between rounds.
How to: Start standing with feet just outside of hips. Squat, lowering down with a focus on pushing heels away from each other. Come all the way up to squeeze glutes at the top. That’s one rep.
How to: Place your hands shoulder-width apart on the floor, then extend your legs behind you with your feet about hip-width apart. Your body should form a straight line from head to heels. Keeping your core tight, bend your elbows to lower your body toward the mat. Elbows should be pointing 45 degrees away from your body. Press back to start. That’s one rep.
How to: Start standing with feet wider than mat and arms at sides. Place hands on the ground, and jump or step back into a plank as fast as possible without losing control. Hop feet forward outside of hands. Raise into a squat position, arms overhead. Return to standing. That’s one rep.
How to: With your feet under your hips, hinge at your hips with your knees slightly bent and your arms just in front of your legs. Focus on keeping your back flat, torso parallel to the floor or at a 45-degree angle, and core engaged. Drive your elbow back toward your hips with weights in hand, feeling your shoulder blades squeeze together, then slowly lower them back down. That’s one rep. (You can also do this arm exercise with bottles of water (or wine like Kate Hudson) or a resistance band.)
How to: Lie flat on your back and place your hands on the sides of your body. Bring your left knee toward your chest as you extend the right leg straight in front of you raised off the ground. Then switch sides. Keep your lower back firmly planted on the ground. That’s one rep.
How to: Start standing with feet under hips and hands at sides. Hop to right side, pulling navel into spine, and landing on right foot and reaching left hand in front of you while you reach left leg behind right. Repeat on the opposite side. That’s one rep.
How to: Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding one dumbbell in your hands. Bring the weight overhead, extending your arms straight so the dumbbell is above your head. Keeping everything from your shoulders to elbows still, slowly bend your elbows, lowering the weight behind your head until your arms are just lower than 90 degrees. Your elbows should point forward, not out to the side. Pause, and raise back to straight. That’s one rep.
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