Fitness Flash: March Madness workouts for the couch-bound

Whether you’re consumed by “Linsanity” or are gearing up for March Madness, it seems like many athletic Ephs will spend much of this month plopped on the sofa watching ESPN.

Adrian Mahoney ’14 works on strengthening his core with side twists during a commercial break of a basketball game. (Caleb Baer/Photo Editor)

If it’s game night and homework’s got your hands tied, the odds are high that you’ll spend your free time chilling with your buddies in front of a flat screen – not making the trek to Lasell.

But don’t dive headfirst into the chip bowl just yet. On average, every hour of primetime TV contains 18 minutes of commercials. That means 18 minutes an hour that you could be spending creating a buff bod. Even if commercials are actually your favorite part, all of the following moves can be completed without taking your eyes off the screen. Now you can stare at the Budweiser girl while sculpting a six-pack of your own.

 

Core sculptors

 

With each of these two-minute tone-ups, you’ll be creating a Situation in no time.

1) The Plank – Get down on your elbows in a push-up position and hold it for the duration of the commercial break (or as long as you can). While this move is a cinch to master, holding it for an extended amount of time is harder than you’d expect.

2) The Holy Trinity – Do 30 crunches, 30 side twists and 30 supermans (laying on your stomach and raising your feet off the ground).

3) The 100 – Borrowing from classic Pilates, lay on your back with your feet six inches off the ground. Lift your shoulders slightly, and pump your arms up and down 100 times. Feel the burn.

 

Butt-blasters (and other lower-body toners)

 

Repeat these moves without resting for the full two-minute break, or try adding weight and doing fewer reps.

1) Lunges – They’re an efficient way to engage the glutes, hamstrings and quads in a single motion. Increase the number of muscles you use by doing different types of motions, including stationary, walking, reverse and side lunges. Aim to do 50 reps.

2) Squats – Like lunges, squats are a great combination exercise that works multiple muscle groups. Do 50 reps.

3) Calf raises – Do 100 reps, squeezing at the top of the movement to feel the contraction. Stand on your least favorite textbook to increase your range of motion.

 

Stellar stretches

 

For many people, building flexibility takes less time than building strength. If you stretch for six minutes per day, as I’ve outlined below, you should notice a difference within the month.

1) Splits – Don’t worry. They’re not as painful as they look. Start out by placing one leg behind you, knee bent, while extending your front leg as far as possible. If you can, try to straighten both legs and press your whole body down toward the floor.

2) Bridges – Start out lying on your back, with your arms and legs extended. Push up into a bridge position so that your body forms an arc. Gradually try to walk your feet in toward your hands, feeling the stretch in your abs.

 

And some exercises to avoid

 

1) Water-pipe pull-ups – I know they’re a tempting way to impress dorm mates and build buff biceps, but don’t risk rupturing expensive plumbing equipment (unless you plan to swim some laps later).

2) Stair suicides – While sprinting up and down flights of stairs provides a heart-pumping workout, passers-by will probably think you’ve gone insane if they catch you doing it. Also, you never know what kind of slippery substances might have been spilled in the stairwell last night. Indeed, running in a dormitory stairwell might actually be suicidal.

3) Handstand push-up contests – Unless you’re extremely coordinated, you risk spraining a wrist or kicking a hole in the wall you’re balancing upside-down against. Particularly if you’re imbibing traditional game-day beverages, there’s just too much that can go wrong.

 

Short but sweet

 

While it may seem like working out for two minutes at a crack won’t make much of a difference, recent research suggests otherwise. In fact, the science is strong on interval training. Exercising for short, intense periods revs up your heart rate and allows you to go harder than steady-state cardio. While 18 minutes of exercise is no substitute for a two-hour gym session, intense intervals are a great way to boost energy and increase your metabolism if you don’t have time for a complete workout. So if you’re looking to tone up without taking time out of your day, try these moves next time you watch a game with friends (or stream Gossip Girl in the privacy of your own room). Just be sure to go easy on the Fritos and dip.