Put on your game face. It’s time for March Madness! Whether you’re rooting for the top seeded teams or cheering on the underdogs, it’s hard not to get pumped for the NCAA’s top hoops stars making history with double overtimes and buzzer beater shots. (And if you’re following our March Madness Workout Challenge, a buzzer beater is equal to five star jumps.)
What makes these athletes unbeatable? Exceptional agility. We’re talking fast feet, quick reflexes, flawless footwork and straight-up explosiveness. Agility is an incredibly important factor for every athlete because it allows the body to move quickly and easily while adapting to constantly changing circumstances, says Anja Garcia, former NCAA Division I athlete and DailyBurn 365 trainer.
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And luckily, you don’t need to be All-Conference material to reap the benefits of training like an athlete. We asked Garcia to design a workout to help anyone jump higher, run faster and move more efficiently. She’s bringing the burn, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) style.
By alternating between high-intensity, all-out efforts and brief rest periods, “the body’s demand for oxygen rises, creating a deficit and making the body ask for more during recovery,” says Garcia. Translation: Your body will continue to burn calories even after your sweat session in order to help regain its store of oxygen.
The March Madness Sweet 16 HIIT Workout
Ready to play? Just because this workout is only 16 minutes doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. Before you begin, warm up by alternating between jump rope, jumping jacks and lateral lunges for five minutes. Then grab a basketball (or any lightweight ball) and follow along with the GIFs below. Perform each exercise for one minute, then take a 30-second rest after you’ve done all five. Repeat for two more rounds (that’s three rounds total). Ball’s in your court — so go bust a move!
1. Squat, Shoot and Press
Targets: Quads, glutes, rotational movement and core
How to: Stand in a neutral position with your feet hip-width apart, holding a basketball in front of your stomach. Lower into a squat position, making sure your core is engaged and your chest remains upright. Send your hips and bottom back (a). Explode through your heels, jumping straight up and bringing your arms and the basketball directly overhead (b). Land on the balls of your feet and bring the basketball back in front of your chest (c). Step your right foot out to the side, then rotate your upper and lower body so you are in a forward lunge with your right foot in front. Make sure both legs are at 90-degree angles, and quickly press the basketball out in front of you (c). Return to the starting position and repeat movement on the other side.
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2. Basketball Push-Ups
Targets: Chest, shoulders and core
How to: Start in a basic plank position with the ball under your left hand. Make sure your wrists are under your shoulders and your body is in a straight line from head to toe (a). Bend your elbows so your upper body descends to the ground. Then, press upwards back to the plank position (b). After completing the first push-up, roll the basketball under your body to your right hand (c). Perform another push-up with your right hand on the ball (d).
3. Lunge Layup
Targets: Quads, glutes and core
How to: Begin standing with your feet hip-width apart while holding the basketball in front of your stomach. Lunge back with your left leg, keeping your right shin perpendicular to the ground. At the same time, tap the basketball to the ground next to the inside of your front foot (a). Then, spring off your right foot while driving your left knee up. Pretend to do a layup with the ball as you jump up (b). Repeat as fast as you can for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
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4. Lateral Shuffle Shot
Targets: Quads, glutes, outer thigh, calves, shoulders and core
How to: Balanced on the balls of your feet, start in a half-squat position. Hold the ball in front of your upper body (a). Quickly shuffle four steps to the right, keeping your upper body facing front, with the back straight and core engaged (b). Jump up and raise your arms and the basketball above your head (c). Shuffle to the left and take a shot (d). Repeat as fast as you can.
5. Plyometric Lunges with Figure 8s
Targets: Quads, glutes, core and endurance
How to: Start with your right leg forward in a lunge position, with both knees at 90-degree angles. Your shoulders should be pulled back with your chest up, and hips facing forward. Hold the ball in front of your chest (a). With your left hand, pass the ball under your right thigh and transfer it to your right hand (b). Next, explode off the balls of your feet and launch yourself upwards. Midair, bring your right leg back and your left leg forward. Transfer the ball to your left hand, and keep your upper body relatively stable (c). Land in a lunge, with your left foot forward. Weave the ball under your left thigh and transfer it to your left hand (d). Repeat as fast as you can.
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Originally published March 2015. Updated March 2017.