Seven Exercises so your heart will go on

Not only is Valentine’s Day this Friday, it’s also National Heart Month. What better way to prevent heart disease and celebrate (or boycott) matters of the heart than pairing some of HCI’s favorite cardio endurance exercises with heart pumping songs? According to the American Heart Association, stay on top of your heart health with 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity75 minutes of vigorous cardio per week, or some mash up of the two. Click here for the full specs on keeping your heart in shape.  

Now for the good stuff!

If you’re intimidated by exercises that pump up your heart and turn you red in the face or, if you’re looking to add more spice to your tried and true routine, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a breakdown of seven exercises and sequences with modifications and songs that will motivate you to push through the blood, sweat and tears. 

Expert Tip:

Doing an exercise too fast or too slow can make all the difference. If you can keep up with the beat, the right song will set a good pace for your workout. Alongside a breakdown of the exercise, we’ll give you a BPM range so you can put your favorite songs to the test. [There are free BPM calculator apps!] For more BPM guidelines and reasons why exercising to music is helpful, click here

1. Rowing + Galantis

The Exercise: Rowing Machine for 3:30-5:00 minutes

The Song: “Runaway (U & I)” by Galantis | 3:47

BPM Range: 120-180

Get your body warm and your spirits amped with this dynamic duo. Trade out rowing for the dynamic bike or Jacob’s ladder to keep it a short burst, low impact full body and cardio-centric warmup before the rest of your workout.

1. Catch — sit forward, knees bent, arms long and shoulders rounding. This position looks different depending on your range of motion.
2. Drive — initiate push back with your legs, then back keeping your arms straight.
3. Finish — pull your arms to the center of your low ribs, shoulders behind your hips, legs as straight as possible.

2. Squats with Bieber

The Exercise: Jump Squats for ~3:30 minutes

The Song: “Let Me Love You” by Justin Bieber + DJ Snake | 3:26 

BPM Range: 100-105

Doing jump squats to a whole song without breaks could send anyone into cardiac arrest. Instead of stopping movement altogether, add in traditional squats and squat pulses to feel the burn. If you’re counting to the music try your jumps and traditional squats in two counts and pulses on the beat.

A sequence could be: two count squats 20 times, pulse for 20 beats, 10 jump squats, and repeat until the end of the song.

1. Keep the knees over toes, hinge at the hips keeping your chest up and extending through your spine.
2. Jump out of the frame reaching overhead, creating a long line from your fingertips to your toes.
3. Stick the landing how you started and adding a smile if you feel inclined [fake it 'til you make it].

3. A Date with the Rink

The Exercise: Ice Skaters for ~3:30 minutes

The Song: “Trust Nobody” by Cashmere Cat, featuring Selena Gomez | 3:36 

BPM: 65-75

What’s more romantic than ice skating? Another high intensity interval training exercise called ice skaters, of course. On top of making your heart work overtime, this exercise attacks your glutei and muscles around your hips.

Sequence + Modification: 20 alternating ice skaters, ice skaters with a touchdown + 20 pulses on each side. If you’re having trouble balancing on one leg, place the free foot on the ground below where it would be held. For a heart break, pulse to the beat in that low-end crossed position.

1. Push off of one leg with a bent knee, kick out the free leg jumping to the side.
2. Land onto the leg with a bent knee keeping the toes and knee pointed forward.
3. Cross the leg you pushed off with behind you keeping it in the air or touching down on the ball of your foot.

4. I Need Your Plank

The Exercise: Walk the Plank Sequence for 3-4 minutes

The Song: “I Need Your Love” by Calvin Harris, feat. Ellie Goulding | 3:55 

BPM Range: 70-120

This pair gets to the core of what your heart needs.

Sequence: 10 walk the planks starting with the right arm, 10 walk the planks starting with the left arm, 30-second isometric hold [lift one leg for an added challenge], 15-seconds of mountain climbers [running in place in plank], and repeat.

1. Place your hands directly under your shoulder spreading the fingers wide on the floor, keep the hips low, spine extended or slightly contracted lengthening the neck.
2. The pattern is right, left, right, left, OR left, right, left, right. Take your first arm down to your forearm and then the other.
3. Push off of one forearm then the other back to a full plank. Try to keep the hips from dipping down to the ground.

5. Heartbeat Swings

The Exercise: Kettlebell Swings for 3-3:30 minutes

The Song: “Heartbeats” by The Knife | 3:52

BPM Range: slow and steady

When you add weight, focus on form over speed to prevent injury. If you can’t last the whole song, take your standard strength training rest. Keep the weight lower for this one to focus more on the cardio workout.

1. Take your squat form, start with the kettlebell between your knees, keep the latissimus dorsi engaged drawing the shoulders down and back to prevent strain.
2. Keeping the neck long press up with your glutei, straighten the legs and beginning the swinging pendulum motion.
3. Complete the swing at shoulder level with a straight spine before returning to the starting position.

6. Give Me Your Side Step

The Exercise: Side Steps with Resistance Band for ~3:30 minutes

The Song: “Give Me Your Love” by Sigala | 3:26 

BPM Range: 60-65 + double time 100-120

Get ready to feel the burn with this couple.

Sequence + Modification: Start with 8 side steps to the right, then 8 to the left, bring it down to 4 and 4, 2 and 2, and 1 and 1, take a squat pulse for a quick break before repeating the pattern. Resistance band placement can be above the knees, below the knees, at the ankles, or around the pads of your feet.

1. Start with a low squat position, arms can meet in the center of your chest to keep your upper body form tight.
2. Step your foot to the side wider than your beginning position and bring the other foot back in.
3. Repeat to the other side. As you start to feel fatigued, check back in with your form. Try to keep it low.

7. Lunges to Lean On

The Exercise: Lunge Switches for 3-3:30 minutes

The Song: “Lean On” by Major Lazer | 2:57

BPM Range: 80-90

Lean on this lunge exercise to stabilize your hips and give you heart burn. Throw in some lunge pulses.

1. Lunge — keep both knees bent in your lunge at around 90 degrees with running arms for extra stability [opposite arm in front]. Make sure your hips are square and your knees point towards your toes.
2. Switch — you can keep the jump low to the ground or go for a full extension.
3. Opposite Lunge — stick the landing on the other side.

8. Throwback Cool down

You did it!

The Exercise: Your post-workout foam rolling and stretching routine. Throwback Song: “Back at One” by Brian McKnight | 4:24

 Make sure to add a cool-down stretch and, or foam roll post-workout to prevent soreness and injury. Happy Valentine’s Day and National Heart Month from HCI!

Also, if you’re not a member yet or looking to recruit your #swolemate, enjoy a $50 joining fee discount starting tomorrow, February 14 through the rest of Heart Month.