Bored of your exercise? Why not work out like a heptathlete? Katarina Johnson-Thompson shares a 45-minute athlete’s workout designed to give your current fitness routine a shakeup
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to your workout routine. In fact, new research from BRITA found that 44 percent of people asked, admitted they never change their exercise routine at all. On top of that, a further 17 percent only change it up every three months.
We’ll put our hands up right now and say we’re guilty of this. It makes sense – we’ve all got our favourites. Healthista digital director Yanar Alkayat is a CrossFit queen, food and lifestyle writer Vanessa Chalmers avoids anything that isn’t a high-intensity sweaty workout and Healthista editor Anna Magee is a total yoga fanatic. But we understand the importance of switching things up every now and then. In fact, changing up your exercise regime can make a real difference to anyone, especially if you feel your fitness gains have plateaued (which over two-thirds of fitness fanatics asked say it has).
A varied exercise routine has been proven to improve muscle strength and prevent injury in overused muscles. It can help you to break through a weight loss plateau, plus – well, it’s just a little bit more interesting, isn’t it? So to help bust through boring workouts, heptathlete and Olympian Katarina Johnson-Thompson has teamed up with BRITA to develop a new workout that will help you to switch things up in your exercise routine.
As a heptathlete, Liverpudlian track and fielder, Johnson-Thompson works across seven disciplines of athletics, so she knows a thing or two about switching up her workout.
WORKOUT LIKE A HEPTATHLETE
Katerina’s Switch 7 Moves
‘I find a lot of people stop training or find it hard to motivate themselves as their workouts can often become repetitive or boring. Luckily, I’ve never really had that and a lot of it is due to being a heptathlete. I have a lot of variety in my programme training for seven different events and in this workout I wanted to create a program that incorporated elements of the seven events I do, which I’m hoping will help people stay motivated.’
‘The workout contains a variety of essential training components – power, endurance, speed and agility with hydration at the core to ensure people reach peak fitness. To be an all-around athlete, obviously, you need to train all types of energy systems, which this workout does,’ explains the sports star.
To ensure your power is explosive do these moves in short bursts of 20 seconds followed by 40 seconds rest and repeat 5 times.
Stand opposite a box with your feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down and drive up through your heels to jump onto the box, landing with your feet flat.
Beginner option – use a step rather than a box
Starting from a low plank position, lower yourself down and push up driving all your power through your chest and arms to lift off the ground. Land back in a low push up position.
The goal is to overload the muscle and complete each move for a full body workout. Start with a round of each exercise for one minute, then 45 seconds and a final round of 30 seconds per move. These can be done against a wall or with a partner.
Squat jump ball throw
In a squat position, hold the ball above your head. As you drive up from the squat into a jump, throw the ball at the wall (or to a partner) as hard and high as you can, catching it as you sink back into the squat.
Chest ball throw
Face a wall, holding the ball at your chest. Thrust the ball against the wall (or at a partner) as hard as possible and catch it, throwing it straight back at the wall.
Side rotation ball throw
Stand with your back to the wall, holding the ball at your chest. Keep your feet still and rotate your body to the right, swinging the ball against the wall (pass to your partner). Rotate 180 to the left to do the same and repeat.
Sit up ball throw
In a sit up position in front of a wall, hold the ball to your chest and launch into a sit up. Thrust the ball at the wall (or your partner) as you come up, hold and catch the ball then recline onto the floor and repeat.
Combine explosive power with strength to work on your speed over a short distance. Complete a pyramid of sprints: 10 meters, followed by 20, 30, 40 and 50 meters.
Resistance band sprints
Place a resistance band around your waist and ask a partner to stand behind you and hold it. Sprint forward 10 (followed by 20/30/40) meters, driving forward with your arms and leaning forward slightly. As you run ask your partner to pull on the resistance band to challenge yourself.
In theory, this move looks simple but can be tricky done at speed, which is the point when your agility is tested. Repeat the move for three minutes with each leading foot.
Start with both feet outside the first square, to the left. With your left foot leading, follow the pattern of left-right-left-right inside and outside of the squares. Gradually increase your speed as complete it as many times as you can within three minutes.
As you’ve already covered speed and strength, this exercise is designed to repeatedly challenge your pace. Aim for 10 repetitions, otherwise, continue until failure.
Find a hill with a good incline and run up it as fast as you can. Drop a marker and jog back to the bottom (recovery). Turn around and sprint back up, aiming for the marker. Repeat until you can’t reach the marker.
It’s important to gradually bring the heart rate down whilst stretching the muscles. Primary yoga stretches are a great way to increase the flexibility of the whole body and aid recovery. Start in the downward dog position and move fluidly through these stretches.
Lower back and abdominal muscles – COBRA
Lower body to the ground laying face-down on the floor with hands directly under shoulder and toes on the floor. Push hips towards the ground raise your chest off the ground facing ahead creating a cobra position. Hold for 10-20 seconds.
Glutes – DOWNWARD FACING DOG / PIDGEON
Move into a full push-up position with hands under shoulders and straight arms. Bring the left knee underneath you up to the left shoulder with the heel by right hip or if possible up towards the right shoulder.
Lower upper body over the left leg with the chest facing forward. If you want to deepen the stretch bring the chest down to the floor and reach arms out in front of you. Hold for 10-20 seconds, then switch sides.
Upper back and shoulders – HALF CHILD’S POSE
On all fours, turn your left palm upwards and thread your left hand underneath your chest towards your right arm. Slowly lower the left shoulder toward the floor, turning your head so it’s left side is near the floor. Hold for 20 seconds then repeat on the opposite side.
Calf muscles and quads
Move up to a standing position with feet shoulder width apart.
Step right foot ahead but keep weight equal between both feet. Slowly bend both knees and you should feel the stretch along the left quad. Hold for 10 seconds then straighten left leg pushing it further behind you and try to bring the heel of the back foot down to the ground where you should feel the stretch in your left calf. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat on each leg.
Katarina Johnson-Thompson’s top training tips
Enjoy your workout
I tried a lot of different hobbies that didn’t stick when I was younger until I found one I liked, which ended up being athletics. It was a hobby that I wanted to always do and think that is the same for anything, if you enjoy doing something, then it’s not a struggle.
Thanks for everyone’s support over those two days (or four years!) It’s certainly not what I came here to do, but I know I gave it my all. I can only look forward, thankfully I have time on my side. Between now and Tokyo there are lots of boxes I want & will tick. I’m more motivated than ever. I have to take some comfort in the fact I jumped a new British and Olympic hep HJ record of 1.98m, you can see how much it means to me 🇧🇷🇬🇧
Make it social
Do it with a friend. If you can keep training social, it really helps with enjoyment and actually, I find I work harder as you can bounce off the other person.
Know you can do it and believe in yourself! Your brain may tell you to stop and that you can’t go on but you can keep going – find that extra push within yourself and you’ll be really grateful afterwards.
Remember your reasons
Think about what you are exercising for – what is the goal? Keep this in mind and if you really want to succeed, you will find the motivation. Diversity is key, which is why the Switch7 workout has worked so well for me.
Don’t forget to drink water
Stay hydrated. Make sure you take on a lot of fluids throughout the day and especially during training so you don’t dehydrate. The BRITA fill&go Active bottle is perfect for this as it’s the right size to throw in your bag to take to training. Not being properly hydrated can have a noticeably adverse effect on your performance.
BRITA fill&go Active, with its squeezy design and filter system it’s the perfect accompaniment to stay hydrated and sustainable whilst exercising. BRITA is committed to reducing the number of single-use plastic water bottles that are adding to the rising tide of pollution in the UK.