Here's an 8-Minute, Energy-Boosting, Total-Body Workout

Burpees are an important part of this 8-minute, total body workout.
Burpees are an important part of this eight-minute, total body workout. (John McBrayer, John McBrayer Photography)

We all have those days. The ones that seem to begin in the middle of the night, the second we'd finally entered the sweet dreams of REM sleep.

The ones which not even a double shot of espresso can assist. Our legs feel like lead, our brain like mush, and we perform each item on the agenda like listless robots, counting the minutes until we can turn out the lights, hit the hay and recharge for what will hopefully be a more energetic tomorrow.

Today, I want to offer a remedy for those days when you sense lethargy rolling in like a rain cloud. It may sound counterintuitive, but exercise actually helps increase energy levels, while promoting better sleep at night. Now, I am fully aware that low-energy days make it nearly impossible for most of us to psych up for exercise, but what if I told you all you need to commit to is eight itty bitty minutes?

In this two-part routine, you will be doing movements that will pump oxygen-carrying blood throughout your body, help your flexibility, boost your metabolism, build strength and stamina, and, of course, send your exhaustion packing!

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As I say in all of my workout articles, a five-minute warmup is a MUST. Warming up adequately does the following:

  • Elevates body temperature
  • Increases blood flow in the muscles
  • Improves efficient cooling
  • Improves range of motion
  • Reduces incidence and likelihood of musculoskeletal injuries
  • Supplies adequate blood flow to heart
  • Provides rehearsal of movements performed in the workout
  • Prepares you mentally

Warming up prepares us for an effective and rewarding workout. When the workout (the fun part!) begins, our blood is flowing hot, our hearts are pumping strong, and our minds are thinking fast, each part of us giving 100 percent to the exercises at hand.

Below, you will find a thorough warmup, followed by two mini routines, which are separated by a minute-long rest period. Carve out a grand total of 13 minutes to complete the five-minute warmup and the eight-minute workout. All you will need is a pair of tennis shoes and a timer.

WARMUP

  • 20 Jumping Jacks
  • 20 Arm Circles each direction
  • 10 Lateral Lunges (5 each side)
  • 10 Air Squats (lower for 3 seconds)
  • 15 Jumping Jacks
  • 10 Sit-Ups
  • 5 Burpees

Repeat

WORKOUT PART I

Set a timer for four minutes and repeat the following circuit as many times as possible, maintaining proper form throughout (form should always be prioritized before speed!):

  • 5 Push-Ups (traditional or modified, depending on your fitness level)
  • 10 Stationary Lunges (5 each leg)
  • 15 Butt Kicks

Exercise Instructions, in the Order Listed:

Jumping Jacks

  • Begin by standing feet together with arms at your sides.
  • Bend your knees and jump, moving your feet apart until they are wider than shoulder width. (You should be on the balls of your feet.) At the same time, raise your arms all the way overhead.
  • Maintain a slight bend in your knees as you jump your feet back together and return your arms to your sides. Repeat for the given number of reps.
  • Arm Circles

  • Stand in a neutral position with feet hip-width apart. Your arms should be straight out to the sides so your body forms a "T."

  • Begin making slow circles in a forward motion with your arms, then gradually make larger ones and complete the given number of repetitions.

  • Repeat in the opposite direction.

    Lateral Lunges

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and make sure you have about two to three feet of space on either side of you.

  • Step sideways a comfortable distance, two or three feet, with one leg. Plant the heel of the lunging foot and keep the foot of the non-lunging leg pointed forward.

  • Sit back into the lunging leg to create a definite crease in your hip. Keep your weight in the heel.

  • Push off the heel of the lunging foot to bring feet together to the standing position. Repeat on opposite side and alternate for given number of repetitions.

    Air Squats

  • Stand with your feet spread apart at a distance slightly wider than the shoulders. Position your feet so that your toes angle out. This angle varies from person to person, but should be about 30 degrees. Keep your weight on the heels to prevent yourself from rolling up onto the balls of your feet.

  • Keep your chest up, shoulders back, head up. This helps promote a nice, safe, intact lumbar curve.

  • Place arms straight out in front of your chest. The arms should be in a comfortable position as they act as counter balance to the motion of the exercise.

  • Bend your knees as you lower yourself down. Pretend there is a chair behind you that you're reaching back to sit on. Your knees should track over your feet and never jut out over them. In other words, your knees should be pointing in the same direction as your toes.  If you find your knees starting to cave in, focus on pushing them out.  A good way to achieve this is by imagining you are tearing the floor apart with your feet.

  • The push back up should be generated from your hamstrings and glutes. Your chest and head should remain pointing straight forward. As you rise, your arms will probably lower back to your sides naturally. Make sure your knees keep tracking with your toes and do not begin to buckle inwards. Also be sure to keep your lumbar curve intact (curved). Generally speaking, if you have your chest and head up, your lumbar curve will be in the correct position.

    Sit-Ups (grab a rolled-up towel or an AbMat and place it above your waistband, against your tailbone)

  • Lie on your back with arms overhead and feet in a butterfly position (soles of feet touching).

  • Take a breath in and forcefully "throw" your arms over your body as you sit up.

  • Touch your shoes as you exhale and return to a lying position, keeping the arms straight. Make sure your shoulder blades touch the floor at the bottom to achieve the full range of motion.

    Burpees

  • Lower your body down using proper squat form. Place hands on the ground in front of you.

  • Jump your feet back to a plank position, then quickly lower your chest to the ground.

  • Push yourself back up to a plank position and jump your feet back in toward your hands..

  • Jump back up and simultaneously clap your hands behind your head. Stand up all the way, extending the hips fully before beginning your next rep.

    NOTE: To modify this exercise, you may eliminate the push-up component. To further modify for beginners, you may also walk your feet out and back in instead of jumping them out and in.

    Push-Ups (traditional)

  • Get into a plank position on the ground: hands and feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.

  • Keeping your core (abdominals and back) tight, slowly lower yourself in a straight line. Make sure your neck stays neutral, naturally aligned with your spine. Don't let your hips pike up in the air or your lower back sag.

  • Continue to lower yourself until your chest touches the mat or floor or, for beginners, your arms form a 90-degree angle.

  • Keeping your spine rigid and abdominals pulled in, press your hands into the floor to return to start position.

    NOTE: Think about exploding powerfully from the bottom position to increase the intensity of this movement.

    Push-Ups (modified)

  • Get into a hands-and-knees position on a mat or floor. Hands should be slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, fingers facing forward. 

  • Keeping your core (abdominals and back) tight, slowly lower yourself in a straight line. Make sure your neck stays neutral, naturally aligned with your spine. Don't let your hips pike up in the air or your lower back sag.

  • Continue to lower yourself until your chest touches the mat or floor or, for beginners, your arms form a 90-degree angle.

  • Keeping your spine rigid and tummy pulled in, press your hands into the floor to return to start position.

    Stationary Lunges

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, torso upright with arms hanging straight at your sides.

  • Take a slow, controlled lunge forward with one foot. As you lunge, lower your body and allow the lunging knee to bend until your thigh is parallel to the ground.

  • Push explosively off the lunging foot to return to the starting position.

    Butt Kicks

  • Begin by jogging normally, either in place or traveling for a short distance.

  • Then begin raising your heels up toward your bottom as you jog, using rapid, forceful movements. Again, you may either do these in place or traveling.

    "But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint" (Is. 40:31, MEV).

    Diana Anderson-Tyler is the author of Creation House's Fit for Faith: A Christian Woman's Guide to Total FitnessPerfect Fit: Weekly Wisdom and Workouts for Women of Faith and Fitness, and her latest book, Immeasurable: Diving into the Depths of God's Love. Her popular website can be found at dianaandersontyler.com and she is the owner and a coach at CrossFit 925.

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