Your 20-Minute De-Stress Workout

Anthony J. Yeung
by Anthony J. Yeung
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Your 20-Minute De-Stress Workout

Life can get pretty stressful. Whether it’s your job, family or friends or a bunch of things all at once, it’s important to take action to melt away the tension, frustration and anxiety and start feeling like your normal self.

Although it can be tempting to go to the gym and try to crush yourself with heavy weights or high-intensity intervals, it’s not the best way to relieve stress. When your mind and your body aren’t in the best “state of mind,” pushing yourself to the limit can actually make things worse.

Instead, the best approach is to do a workout that helps you leave the gym feeling refreshed, energized and happier.

Forget your “traditional” workout where you only do a given number of sets and reps — for this de-stress workout, you’ll use a method that maintains a consistent effort throughout.

It’s called, “high-intensity continuous training.” The way it works is you do one repetition of an exercise every 4–6 seconds for a set period of time. The rule is you must keep your heart rate below 150 bpm, which is usually the top of your aerobic zone. (If you go above, take longer rest between repetitions and get back below 150 bpm.)

By staying in your aerobic zone, you’ll promote recovery and activate your parasympathetic nervous system (the one that’s responsible for rest and relaxation). Now, you’ll get a lot of muscle-building work without fatiguing your body or mind. You’ll also get an assortment of breathing drills, activation exercises and mobility drills to open your body, improve your flexibility and relax your nervous system.

Try this 20-minute de-stress workout the next time you feel overwhelmed. It not only offers exercises to strengthen your muscles, but it also helps you relax away your stress, improve your breathing and get the blood flowing for more energy and recovery.

5 breaths

Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes straight ahead. Drop into a deep squat and hold onto something in front of you. Round your spine and breathe deeply into your belly and back.

10 yards

Get on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips; keep your knees an inch above the ground. Crawl forward by taking a small step with your right arm and left leg at the same time and alternate. Keep your hips low and your head up.

4 reps per side

Lie on the ground with your right knee bent, right foot flat on the floor, right arm holding a weight above you, and left arm and left leg at your side. Drive through your right foot and roll onto your left elbow. Then, straighten your left arm. Squeeze your right glute and drive your hips straight up. Pull your left leg underneath and behind your body, resting on your knee and ball of the foot. Move your torso straight up, then lunge to a stand. Reverse the sequence to descend. Do all your reps on one side and repeat on the other side. Keep your chest up and watch the weight the entire time.

5 minutes

Take one step every 4–6 seconds. Alternate legs by switching feet at the top. Keep your heart rate below 150 bpm.

5 minutes

Do one pushup every 4–6 seconds. Keep your heart rate below 150 bpm.

6 reps each side

With your left leg, lunge forward and to the left about 30-degrees. Place both hands on the ground while keeping your elbows locked and press your trailing knee to the ground. Squeeze the glute of the rear leg and extend your right arm to the sky while watching your hand with your eyes. Maintain a neutral arch in your lower back throughout. Stand up and switch sides.

3 minutes

Foam rolling helps relax your muscles, stimulate blood flow and improve muscle recovery. Target common trouble areas like your calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes, IT band, lower back and lats.

8 breaths

Get into a child’s pose and round the entire length of your spine. When you inhale, breathe through your nose, expand your diaphragm and focus on pushing your belly into your thighs. Exhale every last ounce of air from your lungs, hold for one second and then inhale.

About the Author

Anthony J. Yeung
Anthony J. Yeung

Anthony, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, is a fitness expert at Esquire, GQ and Men’s Health and gets guys in shape for their wedding at GroomBuilder.


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