"Using a skipping rope is amazing for your body," says personal trainer Samantha Clayton. "All you have to do is look at a boxer's tight, toned body to know it's a major fat-blaster." You're toning your upper and lower body at the same time, while quickly boosting your heart rate. The result: an 80kg person can torch more than 1500kJs in 30 minutes. Check out this jump rope fitness guide for tips and workout ideas.
Don't have the room to swing the rope? Try "ghost jumping," mimicking the movement without the actual rope. "This is just as effective in keeping your heart rate up," says Clayton. To keep it interesting, try doing fast intervals with short recoveries in between, challenge your balance by jumping on one leg, double-dutch with the kids, or jump to the beat of your favourite songs.
No barbells, dumbbells or resistance bands? No problem. "Your own body is the best piece of equipment you own," says Clayton. You can get an amazing workout in a small space by mixing and matching basic moves like lunges, squats, mountain climbers, planks and push-ups. "Squats and lunges tone your legs and butt, and push-ups are great for your chest and arms," says Clayton. Planks and mountain climbers are fantastic for your abs. Aim to do 3 sets of 10 reps for each move. To boost your kilojoule burn, keep rests between each move no longer than 20 to 30 seconds. To amp calories even more, add a 1-minute cardio blast - like jumping jacks - between each set.
"A kettlebell workout can be done in less than half the time of typical workouts and burns twice as many kilojoules," says Sarah Lurie, author of Kettlebells for Dummies. How many kilojoules are we talking? Up to 20 per minute, according to a 2010 study, or up to 1600 kilojoules in a 20-minute session. Here's why it works so well: "Most kettlebell exercises give you a cardiovascular workout and a full-body strength workout at the same time," says Lurie. "The basic kettlebell swing works every major muscle group and taxes your cardiovascular system at the same time. Even adding just two kettlebell workouts a week into your routine will transform your body."
Loved by personal trainers and hard-bodied fitness types (a former Navy SEAL is credited with their development), these versatile nylon straps hook to any stable anchor - think your bedroom door or a sturdy pole or beam - and allow you to use your own body weight as resistance for more than 100 different exercises. They're perfect for at-home exercisers because they require minimal space, weigh about 1kg, and can be rolled up and stashed in a drawer or closet between sweat sessions. Because suspension strap moves require balance, your abs are constantly engaged, working your body from head-to-toe. To up your kilojoule burn, move through a suspension circuit quickly, resting only for enough time to adjust strap length between moves.
If you love logging kilometres on the open road, consider setting up your bike in your living room. "You can put your favourite TV show or movie on the TV and pedal away," says Andrew Bernstein, gear editor for Bicycling Magazine. "The most common set up is a rear-wheel trainer, which locks onto the bike's rear hub and elevates the back wheel a few inches off the ground," says Bernstein. These devices use a resistance unit to simulate riding on a road. You'll also need a "trainer block" to elevate the front wheel so that your bike is level. Whatever your setup, expect to sweat: A 85kg person burns between 665 to 2,000 kilojoules in 30 minutes of cycling. "We recommend you get a rubber trainer mat to put underneath you to protect your floors, especially if you’re spinning on carpet," says Bernstein.
If you have room to unroll a yoga mat, you have enough space for a challenging asana session. To make yoga a great kilojoule-burner, focus on repeating moves that engage your largest muscle groups and get your heart rate up, says yoga teacher Tamal Dodge. A few poses to try, in addition to the basic warrior I and II: Crescent lunge, chair pose and extended side angle. Link them all by flowing through a vinyasa (lower from high plank to low plank, flow forward to upward facing dog, and then press back to downward facing dog). And try our fat-blasting yoga workout for even more burn.
Long used by dancers to sculpt a lean, long body, barre work has become a staple in many exercise studios. The ballet-derived exercises are normally done using a stationary handrail, but you can do them with a chair, kitchen table or even the back of your couch. Barre work strengthens your deepest ab muscles, pulling in your waist like a corset, while lifting your butt, trimming your thighs and toning your arms. It also whips into shape your perfect-posture muscles, so you'll stand straighter.