I’m off for a little solo R&R this week on the beaches of Croatia and as much as I love to run while I’m on vacation my carryon is filled with shoes to drink and eat in, not workout in. Luckily I have just enough room to fit a couple of workout bands into my suitcase so I wanted to share with you how a 20 minute, barefoot workout can keep your body strong and keep you feeling confident while you’re ocean or poolside (or if you are only dreaming of being poolside because life is way too busy for any kind of vacation and all you really have time for a is a 20 minute barefoot workout because you have no idea where your shoes are).

This workout is split into 3 circuits. Go through each circuit twice before moving onto the next.

Warmup: Back Bridge Traction
Start on your back, with a band (you can buy packs of 5 of these on Amazon) wrapped up around your thighs. Place your feet hip width apart and your hands by your side. Press into the backs of your arms as you slowly roll your hips, low back and ribs off the floor one vertebrae at a time. Once you have rolled to your shoulder blades, reach your arms behind your head into a big stretch and hold that reach as you slowly roll your spine back down one vertebrae at a time. Repeat this 5 times. This exercise is great to give your spine a little bit of traction. 

Circuit 1

Abdominal crunches
Keep the band around your thighs and your legs into table top position. Press your thighs into the band. Interlock your fingers and make a hammock for your head in your hands and slowly curl your ribs towards your thighs and your breastbone to the ceiling. Repeat for 20 then hold at the top and pulse a little higher for a count of 20. Then, hold the deep curl while your press your thighs out into the band. Press out for 20 then do 20 more pulsing crunches, maintaining the press into the band. To finish, hold the curl as you extend your legs straight to the ceiling, then bending again. Repeat 5 times and if your abs can still manage, lower your legs straight towards the ground, only as low as you can maintain your spine strong. Lift and lower for 5, then collapse in exhaustion.

High plank jumping jacks 10 jacks, 1 push-up
Flip yourself over into a push-up position (the band can stay where it is or you can move it down around your ankles). Jump your feet apart like you’re doing a jumping jack, keeping your upper body still and strong, and then back together. After you’ve done that 10 times do one push-up (feel free to drop to your knees) and then back up into the jumping jacks. Repeat this for 60 seconds.

Band side shuffles
Keep the band around your knees, or ankles, and shuffle quickly 5 steps to the left, touch the floor and shuffle back, touching the floor. Repeat for 60 seconds.

Go through this circuit twice before moving onto the next.

Circuit 2

Squat cable rows
Put the small band away and grab a longer and stronger one (again, you can buy these on amazon). Grab the band with your hands about shoulder width apart and have your feet slightly wider than your hips, toes turned out slightly. Arms stay straight as you squat down into a deep squat. Stand up, squeezing your thighs and glutes, and pull the band wide with straight arms (it should come right into your chest). Release the arms forward as you squat down. Repeat for 60 seconds.

Reverse lunge with cable lat pulldown
Place the band back around your upper thighs and hold onto the other band in your hands. Step one leg back and on an angle 10 times (firing from the glutes) then bring your feet together and pull the band towards your chest, making a ‘W’ with your elbows. Repeat this set for 60 seconds, always on the same leg. (Do the other leg on the second set.)

Burpees - double or single arm
I’m weird and I love burpees but I like to do them slow and controlled so they turn into more of a strength and stability exercise rather than cardio. You can do them with two hands, or up the ante and use one hand. Start standing tall, feet wide. Lower your hips down into a frog squat (or like a football player) keeping your spine as straight as possible. Find your strong core as you jump your feet back (feel like your abs are lifting your hips up as you jump back). Land strong, hold for a breath, then jump your feet back wide into your frog squat and stand tall. Repeat for 60 seconds.

Go through this circuit twice before moving onto the last.

Circuit 3

Kneeling leg lifts
Start on your knees with your arms to the side. Place your left leg straight, off to the side with your foot flat. Start to reach your right hand to the right and slowly float your left leg off the floor. Side bend to place your right hand down and lift your left leg high. Go through these 4 different moves for 15 seconds each:
1 - side leg lifts
2 - side leg circles
3 - side leg circles the other way
4 - leg pulls

Side plank
As soon as you finish the kneeling leg lifts, lower your left foot back to the floor and place your right leg straight behind it. Hold here or add a lift and lower your hips. Another option is to come onto your elbow. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.

Repeat this on the other side and then slap on some sunscreen and get on with your day. For those of you who won’t be by a beach this spring, put sunscreen on anyway!