The retro workout you need right now

Single-leg deadlift 

Stand with feet together in the center of a step elevated by 5 to 6 risers. Hold a dumbbell with right hand beside thigh, arm extended and palm facing in. Bend right knee slightly as you hinge forward from the hips, extending left leg to hip height behind you and lowering the dumbbell toward floor. Rise up to starting position and repeat until you've completed all the reps on that side. Switch sides. “This can be used as a great warm-up for your hips before you go for a run or you could incorporate it into your leg workout,” says Vela. 

Step-assisted pistol squat

Start seated in the middle of a step elevated by 5 to 6 risers. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, elbows bent so dumbbells are almost level with shoulders. Lift left foot off floor, keeping the knee tracking over the ankle. Rise up onto right leg, maintaining a slight bend through the elbows while extending arms overhead. Return to starting position on the step. Repeat for all the reps on that side, then switch sides. “I recommend trying this without dumbbells first, becoming comfortable with the move, then adding in dumbbells of your choice,” says Vela. 

Deadlift to step-up curtsy lunge

Stand with feet together on a step elevated by 1 to 2 risers. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing in. Lunge left foot diagonally behind you into a curtsy. Return to start; repeat on other side. Continue alternating to complete all the reps. “Doing a lunge on the step increases your range of motion, so you can get a little more stretch and a greater contraction,” says Vela. “And you can add a number of arm variations to bring more muscle to the move. For example, incorporate a shoulder press to make it even more of a total-body exercise.”

Propulsion lunge

Start in a lunge position with your right foot on a step, elevated by 1 to 2 risers. Hold your left arm at a 90-degree angle, elbow in line with your bent right knee, and right arm slightly behind your side. Drive up explosively lifting your left knee so that thigh is parallel to floor, lifting right foot off the step. Land on right foot and return to starting position. Repeat for all the reps, then do the other side. “Make sure to land on the step exactly the way that you left the step,” says Vela. “A lot of people think they should heel strike on the step, but when you land it’s toe to heel.”

Straddle jump

Start with legs on either side of the end of a step elevated by 2-3 risers. Lower into a squat with left hand behind back, right hand placed on the top front of the step. Drive up explosively lifting both feet off the floor, bringing right hand to meet the left hand behind back. Land in starting position and repeat for all the reps. Then, switch hands and do all the reps on that side. “The key here is a controlled landing,” says Vela. “I always say to my classes, ‘A great athlete is going to fly high but an even better athlete is going to control that landing. Care for your joints, soften the knees upon impact, and sink into your seat.’ Basically, you want to minimize any noise you make when you hit the floor.”

Lateral hop with burpee

“It’s core, it’s cardio, it’s upper body, it’s lower body. It’s hip and ankle mobility. So, it’s a really good one for athletes.” Start by standing on one side of a step elevated by 2 to 3 risers. Bend your knees slightly, lifting left leg slightly off the ground, and balance on right foot. Leap to the left over the step, land on right foot, then lower left foot to ground and drop into a burpee. Repeat by leaping back over the step (still with the right foot leading) to the right side. Do all the reps on one leg , then repeat with the other leg. “To modify the move, you can stand behind the step and use it as a guide until you build your way up to actually flying over the step,” says Vela. “You can also lower the risers and just use the step top, with nothing underneath.”

Decline push-up into a hip extension

Start in a plank position, hands slightly wider than shoulder distance apart, with both feet elevated on a step (with 4 to 5 risers) behind you. Bend elbows and lower chest toward floor to push-up position. As you push back up to plank, raise your right leg as high as you can and hold for 5 seconds before returning to starting position. “Make sure to maintain a strong back,“ says Vela. “And to make sure all 29 muscles in your midsection are activated, keep the belly button drawn in toward the spine.” If you're up for an extra challenge, add ankle weights or a band around the ankles to increase difficulty, suggests Vela. 

Push-up to pike with TRX

Facing away from the anchor point of the TRX, rest each foot in a cradle. Place hands on a step (elevated by 2 to 4 risers) in an elevated high plank position. Keeping your core strong, pull legs into a pike towards the ceiling so hips are above shoulders. Slowly extend legs back to the high plank, then lower into a push-up. Return to starting position. “I love this one because it works your whole upper body including triceps, chest, and delts, and activates all the muscles between your ribs and hips,” says Vela.

TRX-assisted pistol squat

Set a step elevated by 4 to 5 risers about three feet away from the TRX. Facing the anchor point, stand on step and hold a TRX handle in each hand, palms facing each other, elbows slightly bent. Lift left leg and bend left knee so it’s parallel to floor and you’re balancing on your right foot for starting position. Keeping chest up, abs engaged, hips level, and shoulders down, squat, bending right knee, as you drop left leg down behind you and extend arms. Slowly rise back up to return to starting position. Repeat, then switch sides. “This move is a great way to build hip mobility, improve posture, and activate your whole back side,” says Vela. 

Inverted row with TRX

Place a step elevated by 2 to 4 risers against the wall beneath a TRX. Facing the anchor point, stand on step with feet hip-distance apart and hold a handle in each hand, palms facing in. Extend arms and lean back, rotating palms to face the ground and making sure spine stays supported in one plane from heel to toe. Exhale, then draw your thumbs toward your armpits, keeping elbows high and wide. Inhale, then slowly extend arms back into straight position. Repeat. “When using the TRX, it’s really important to control both sides of the contraction," says Vela. "Stay focused and measured during the entire move.”

Try it: stacked workout

“30 seconds allows you to put in the work without exhausting the muscles.”

4 travel-friendly workouts for the holidays

Up the intensity, wherever you are.