The ‘battle of the bulge’ has never been quite as literal as when testing my latest workout, Les Mills Combat, which is based on a combination of six martial arts – boxing, kickboxing/muay thai, taekwondo, capoeira, karate and jiu jitsu.
Because I usually prefer more straightforward strength training, I wasn't sure I’d enjoy this equipment-free, MMA-style program (think Fight Club in your living room). But just as it’s important to mix up your workouts to keep your body from plateauing, it’s equally critical to change up your routine to prevent boredom.
So off I went with trainers Rach Newsham and Dan Cohen, who take turns leading different segments of kicks, jabs, punches, blocks and strikes, all choreographed to popular pop songs (a hallmark of the Les Mills franchise).
Maybe their enthusiasm was infectious, or maybe I had some extra aggression to unleash at my TV, but either way, I was impressed. It’s not just pointless kicking and punching the air; this workout will challenge you in several different areas at once — cardio, power, explosiveness, core, coordination and strength.
The lack of equipment makes the program especially versatile if you’re on the road of just don’t have time to hit the gym on a regular basis. And the HIIT (high intensity interval training) is my favorite way to work out because it’s effective, efficient and offers a real kick in the butt if you’re looking to take your training up a notch.
Here’s a breakdown of the individual workouts:
- The Basics: Master the techniques as well as the MMA-based guards and stances you will use throughout the Les Mills Combat workouts (30 min)
- Les Mills Combat 30 Kickstart: Low in complexity, but high in intensity, this workout introduces you to the basic Les Mills Combat combination moves (30 min)
- Combat 45 Power Kata: Katas are martial arts training methods that develop technique and flow; this workout combines speed and power with cross-training to maximize calorie burning (45 min)
- Combat 60 Extreme Cardio Fighter: Challenge endurance with a high-repetition sequence of moves that forces multiple muscle groups to fire at once (60 min)
- 60 Live Ultimate Warriors Workout: A hard-driving blend of all the martial arts featured in the combat programs that focuses on upper body, legs and butt, core and cardio (60 min)
- Power HIIT 1: High intensity interval training uses short bursts of maximum effort followed by recovery for metabolic and muscle conditioning overload (30 min)
- Shock Plyo HIIT 2: Propulsion exercises designed to improve athletic power and endurance to get you into peak performance mode (30 min)
For more information on Les Mills Combat, visit Beachbody.com.