Cardio tends to get boxed up as a time-consuming form of exercise that takes a full hour of running, HIIT, swimming, or biking. That, my friends, is what we call a workout myth. And here to bust it is a little thing trainers like to call the “leg matrix,” a cardio finisher that takes just 90 seconds and provides the heart-racing way to close any workout.
By definition, a matrix is a “rectangular array” of elements. In this case, those elements are four specific moves—body weight squats, reverse or forward lunges, jump squats, and split lunges—that burn out your legs and core while upping your heart rate right before you start your exercise cool down.
The technique of spiking your heart rate in the final stretch of your workout is something trainers like to call “metabolic training” or Metcon. “The idea is to engage different muscle groups, for short spurts, that will keep your metabolism active and always anticipating what’s next,” says Justen Sjong, senior director of route setting and programs at El Cap.
Basically, it’s the cherry on top of your workout sundae. Below, fitness coach Matt Klingler explains how to try it out at the end of your next sweat sesh.
The 90-second cardio finisher to tack onto any workout
Start out your circuit with 24 reps of a classic, body weight squat. Start standing with your feet a little wider than hips’ width distance apart. Lower your butt toward the ground keeping your knees over the ankles and your back flat. Come back to standing and squeeze your glutes.
How to do a squat the right way:
2. reverse lunges
Stand up and lunge your left leg straight back, hovering your left knee just above the ground and keeping your torso as upright as possible. Come back to center and switch sides. Complete 12 reps on each leg.
3. JUmping lunges (AKA, split jumps)
Start in a shortened lunge position with your right knee directly over the ankle and your left knee hovering just above the ground. Bring your left arm forward and wing your right arm back. In a quick motion, switch the orientation of both your legs and your arms so that your left leg is forward while your right legs is back and your right arms is forward while your left arm is back. Complete 12 reps on each leg.
4. Jump squats
Start back in your squat position with your weight in your heels. On an inhale push into your feet and jump straight up into the sky, straightening your legs in the process. Land right back in a squat position. Do 24 reps of this exercise.
To make the exercise easier, lessen the amount of reps within each set. To make it harder, run through the circuit twice or even three times with a short break in between each round.
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