At-Home Bootcamp Workouts: Exercises, Benefits, and Tips

Linda Rider

Designing your own workout can be a challenge.

With countless exercises touted as the “best” and the overabundance of information online, you may find yourself spending more time planning than exercising. Or maybe the sheer overwhelm of trying to plan a new workout has left you doing the same routine over and over.

For this reason, boot camp workouts, with their heart-raising, strength-building combination of exercises, have soared in popularity. They’re also quick and include convenient pre-selected exercises, to boot — no pun intended.

This article tells you all you need to know about boot camp workouts, suggests exercises you can try, and provides helpful tips to give you the best results.

Boot camp workouts include a range of cardio, strength training, and speed exercises all in one session.

While the primary goal of boot camp workouts may vary — such as building muscle or increasing cardiorespiratory fitness — they usually include elements of all three types of exercise.

For example, a boot camp workout can include cardio exercises (e.g., jumping jacks, sprints, jump rope), bodyweight and resistance exercises (e.g., squats, pushups, planks), or exercises that tackle both at the same time (e.g., jump squats, mountain climbers).

In most cases, boot camp workouts are high intensity and short, but they burn a ton of calories, get your heart rate up, and strengthen your muscles. This is ideal for people who have limited time but still want to get in a good workout (1, 2).

Though each workout will be different, they usually include 2–5 rounds of 5–10 exercises. They may also be broken up into a few circuits, which are groups of 2–3 exercises. This will depend on the type of exercise, your fitness level, and your desired workout length.

You can also decide to do time-based exercises, such as AMRAP (as many reps as possible) intervals, or a set number of reps before continuing to the next exercise.

Summary

Boot camp workouts feature a series of 5–10 high intensity cardio, strength training, and speed exercises that are usually repeated a few times.

For a well-rounded boot camp workout, you’ll want to include a range of exercises that focus on developing cardio, strength, and speed.

Before starting, it’s best to do a 5-minute dynamic warmup to prepare your muscles and heart for the work ahead. This can include some shoulder rotations, leg swings, a light jog, and other moves to get your blood flowing.

Start with the first exercise and progress through each one until you’ve completed them all. Then, return to the beginning and repeat this 2–3 more times. Be sure to take 20–30 seconds of rest after each exercise, as needed.

1. Jumping jack (30 seconds)

What it targets: full-body workout and cardio

Equipment needed: none

  1. Stand with arms at your sides and legs together.
  2. Jump up and spread your legs out to the sides (around shoulder-width apart) while at the same time lifting your arms out and over your head.
  3. Jump back to the starting position while lowering your arms.
  4. Continue this for 30 seconds.

2. Squat (30 seconds)

What it targets: glutes, hamstrings, quads

Equipment needed: none

  1. Stand with feet slightly more than hip-width apart. Your toes should be slightly pointed out and hands should be on your hips or in front of you.
  2. Slowly push your hips back into a sitting position while bending your knees. Avoid driving your knees forward — instead, focus on hinging your hips.
  3. Continue to lower yourself until your thighs are parallel with the floor (knees should be at a 90-degree angle). Hold the position for 2–3 seconds, then slowly lift back up into the starting position.
  4. Complete as many as you can with proper form in 30 seconds.

For an extra challenge, you can add resistance by holding a dumbbell or kettlebell or using loop resistance bands.

3. Pushup (30 seconds)

What it targets: upper back, deltoids, triceps, chest, biceps

Equipment needed: none

  1. Start on all fours with arms straight and wrists aligned under your shoulders.
  2. Straighten your legs by stepping your left foot back into a high plank position, followed by your right foot. You should be on your toes with your spine neutral, core tight, and hands shoulder-width apart.
  3. Bend your elbows and slowly lower your body to the floor. Make sure your back and hips are in a straight line. Your elbows may angle out slightly to the sides.
  4. Once your chest reaches the floor, press your hands into the floor to straighten your arms and return to the starting position. This is 1 rep.
  5. Perform as many reps as possible in 30 seconds.

If this is too difficult, perform modified pushups with your knees bent and on the floor.

Tip: Focus on proper form instead of trying to complete a high number of reps with improper form.

4. Jump rope (30 seconds)

What it targets: full-body workout and cardio

Equipment: jump rope

  1. Stand with feet together, holding a jump rope handle in each hand.
  2. Swing the jump rope forward, over your head.
  3. As the jump rope swings toward your feet, jump over it.
  4. Continue jumping for 30 seconds.

If you don’t own a jump rope or you have a low ceiling, you can substitute with the high knees exercise:

  1. Stand with feet together and your hands in front of your stomach with your palms facing the floor.
  2. Lift your right knee quickly off the floor and tap your right hand.
  3. As you lower your right leg, lift your left leg to repeat the movement.
  4. Continue alternating legs for 30 seconds. You can increase the speed for an extra challenge.

5. Walking plank (30 seconds)

What it targets: full-body; arms, core, legs

Equipment needed: none

  1. Make sure the space around you is clear and free of obstructions.
  2. Starting in a traditional plank position, slowly move your right hand and foot 1 step to the right, followed by your left hand and foot to return to plank position. Continue this for 5 steps to the right.
  3. Repeat in the other direction until you’re back where you started.

Take your time with this move to ensure proper form and target your muscles effectively. Be sure to keep your core tight the entire time.

6. Wall sit (30 seconds)

What it targets: glutes, quads, core

Equipment needed: a wall

  1. Stand against a wall with feet hip-width apart.
  2. Pressing your back into the wall, slowly slide down until you’re in a squat position (hips and knees at 90-degree angles). Place your hands on the tops of your thighs or squeeze them together in front of you.
  3. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Be sure to squeeze your glutes and engage your core.

7. Mountain climber (30 seconds)

What it targets: full-body; arms, core, legs

Equipment needed: none

  1. Start in a traditional straight-arm plank position.
  2. Lift your right foot off the floor and bring your right knee toward your chest. Avoid rotating your hips or shoulders. Return to the starting position, then do the same with your left knee.
  3. Continue alternating legs for 30 seconds. Be sure to keep your core engaged and maintain a neutral spine.

For an added cardio challenge, try to increase the speed while maintaining proper form.

8. Good morning (30 seconds)

What it targets: hamstrings

Equipment needed: none

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart with elbows bent and your hands on the back of your head. Engage your core and keep your shoulders back.
  2. Inhale and slowly hinge forward at the hips (rather than the waist) while keeping your back straight and your knees slightly bent.
  3. Bend until you feel a light stretch in your hamstrings and your chest is close to parallel with the floor.
  4. Push into the balls of your feet and squeeze your glutes to slowly lift your back until you’ve returned to the starting position. This is 1 rep.
  5. Perform as many as you can with proper form in 30 seconds.

Summary

A well-rounded boot camp workout will include some high intensity cardio, strength training, and exercises that combine the two.

To ensure your safety and get the best results, here are some helpful tips:

  • Start slow. Going too fast too soon can deplete your energy and make it harder to complete the entire workout.
  • Use the first round as an extra warmup. This will help ensure that your muscles are properly warmed up and your heart rate increases slowly.
  • Focus on form, not reps. Don’t worry about the number of reps you complete if it compromises your form. Aim to perform each move with proper form to target the right muscles and prevent injury.
  • Take rests between exercises. If you need to take a breather, then take one. This will allow you to recover and perform the next exercises properly.
  • Stop when you need to. If a boot camp workout says you should do 5 rounds but you’re exhausted after 2 rounds, that’s OK. You can work toward increasing the number of rounds as your fitness improves.
  • It’s OK to skip an exercise. If an exercise doesn’t feel right, skip it or replace it.
  • Mix it up. If you’re getting bored of the same boot camp workout, replace a few exercises or add additional ones for a new challenge.
  • Take a class. If you’re looking for more direction or want to work out in a group setting, most gyms offer boot camp classes for all fitness levels.
  • Check in with a healthcare professional. If you have any preexisting health conditions (such as high blood pressure or heart disease) or injuries, get clearance from a healthcare professional before trying a new form of exercise.

Summary

For best results and to ensure your safety, be sure to make modifications as needed and focus on proper form.

Boot camp workouts can be a fun, quick, and efficient way to get in a good workout.

While there are many varieties of boot camp workouts, they usually combine cardio, strength training, and speed exercises.

Most boot camps will include a few exercises that you’ll repeat for a set number of rounds. This is usually based on the exercises selected, your fitness level, and the time you have.

If you’re looking to step up your fitness or just try something new, give boot camp workouts a try.

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