Mix the fast-paced, muscle-sculpting benefits of Pilates with the stretching and strengthening poses of yoga, and you’ve got PiYo. This hybrid workout set to upbeat music has great perks for runners.
“I am a runner, and I was having chronic ham-string pulls, and I knew they really related to flexibility. So I started taking Pilates and yoga classes,” explains PiYo creator and trainer Chalene Johnson. “They just weren’t for me—I felt stifled. I wanted to move.”
PiYo was born out of this unmet desire, but Johnson says, although the exercises and entire sequence is Pilates- and yoga-inspired, the real quirk to the routine came straight from Cirque du Soleil.
Johnson remembers watching a performer do a different kind of workout in the gym: “I love their bodies. They’re super-duper flexible—so a light bulb just went off . You don’t have to hold a pose to be flexible.”
While our runner selves don’t plan on joining the circus any time soon, you can still build a stronger, hotter bod like the pros with these five quick PiYo-esque moves straight from Johnson herself. Get ready to sweat!
Related: Quick Strength Training For Runners
This series takes about 10 minutes. It’s designed to dynamically improve flexibility and strength at the same time. The exercises help address areas where runners are traditionally very tight, while also improving upper body strength.
Complete the exercises without resting in between. The nonstop, flowing workout provides incredible cardiovascular benefits to boost your run!
1. PiYo Cross
This exercise will get your heart rate up and prepare you for the rest of the series.
(a) Begin with your toes turned out in a wide stance, bend your knees and raise your arms with elbows bent. (b) Round your upper back and drape your arms over an imaginary ball in front of you. Work to separate your shoulder blades and scoop the abs. As you lift back to a standing position, return to a neutral spine, draw the elbows down toward your side and squeeze the shoulder blades together. Repeat for 20 reps.
Related: Is Yoga For You?
2. Pushup Plank Down Dog
Improve flexibility in your hamstrings, glutes and calves.
(a) Begin in a lower pushup position. (b) Move into a plank and hold for five seconds. (c) Press back into down dog. Work to lower your heels all the way to the ground. Return to start position. Repeat for 10 reps.
Related: Mastering The Plank In 3 Steps
MODIFY: Lower to your knees during the pushup position if needed, but work to maintain a full pushup in the future!
3. Beast Kick Through
This exercise builds core, glute and shoulder strength.
(a) Start in a tabletop position on all fours with knees slightly lifted off the ground. (b) Put your left hand behind your head and kick the right leg across and under your body toward the front of the room, keeping your supporting arm fully extended without locking the elbow. Return to start position, and (c) repeat on the other side. That’s one rep. Repeat for 10 reps.
Related: Dance Inspired Strength Training
4. Runner’s Lunge Single-Leg Down Dog
Focus on your core and upper body.
(a) Begin in a runner’s lunge with both palms on the floor and left leg forward. (b) Sweep the left leg up to the sky while keeping the right leg fully extended. Work to keep hips parallel to the floor. Repeat for 10 reps and switch legs for 10 more reps.
5. Swing Squat Alternating Runner’s Lunge
As you progress, work to lunge deeper to open up the hip flexors.
(a) Start in a squat position with your arms above your head, hands together. (b) Lunge your left leg back, bringing your left hand to touch the floor. Keep your right elbow bent as if in a running motion. (c) Return to squat position as you raise your arms back over your head. (d) Lunge back with the right leg and return back to squat position. That’s one rep. Repeat for 10 reps.