How to Turn Your Commute into a Workout

How to Turn Your Commute into a Workout
(Image credit: Unknown)

1 Limber up

‘Static stretching doesn’t work by itself,’ says mobility expert Dr Kelly Starrett, author of Becoming a Supple Leopard. ‘It doesn’t address your motor skills or your ability to get into good positions.’ Here’s your new warm-up.

Couch stretch

Put your shin against the front of a sofa, knee on the floor, and plant your other foot. Drive your hips towards the floor and hold for 30 seconds each side. This helps with hip and knee mobility.

Calf smash

Sit on the floor with something cylindrical – a foam roller is ideal – under your calves. Raise yourself on your hands and roll back and forth ten times. This reduces the stress on your Achilles tendon, your knee and your foot’s plantar fascia.

2 Food dash

Fuel your run (and the rest of your day) properly by eating the right breakfast. Glenn Higgins ( suggests blending a frozen banana, 2tbsp peanut butter, 240ml almond milk, 120ml water, chia seeds, oats, 1tsp Greek yogurt and a few ice cubes. ‘Add a scoop of your favourite chocolate or vanilla whey protein for an extra muscle-building boost,’ says Higgins. Don’t drink it the second before you head out of the door though – you’ll need at least 30 minutes to digest it, so prepare it as soon as you get up.

Want more options? Try this pre-workout trail mix shake

3 Pack your bags

Don’t want to turn up to work looking as if you’ve never heard of the concept of ironing? Pick up a Suit25 bag from Slicks ( This 25-litre backpack has a system for transporting your suit into work with minimal wrinkles. For a pack designed to keep a laptop safe along with everything else you need, there’s the 32-litre Giga Office (

4 Map it out

Now that you’re free from the shackles of the bus route, you can mix up your journey into work. Download My Tracks from the Google Play Store, which uses your phone’s GPS to record your speed, distance and elevation when you run (or cycle). You can use the app to find different routes or, if you find a route you like, shave seconds off your time.

Our list of the best health and fitness apps

5 Pick up speed

A slow jog each morning isn’t enough to get the heart going. Add sprint intervals to turn your commute into a workout. ‘Sprint for 20 seconds, then drop off to a slow jog for 40 seconds to get your breath back,’ says Higgins. ‘Repeat this ten to 15 times. This powerful sprint interval session is ideal for a commute as it’s not overly complicated and suits any terrain.’

6 Beat the traffic

Don’t stand twiddling your thumbs when you get stopped at a pedestrian crossing – but don’t make a mad dash through the traffic either. Instead, take advantage of wearing a backpack and perform this circuit from Higgins each time you stop.

Jump squat: Reps 20

Squat, holding the backpack in front of you. Jump off the ground and then land back in the squat.

Lat stretch: Time 15sec

Hold on to the traffic light pole, feeling the stretch in your lats.

Upright row: Reps 15

Perform an upright row holding the handle.

Lunge rotation: Reps 20

Lunge forwards, holding your backpack out in front of you with both hands, arms parallel to the floor. Rotate to the same side as your forward leg. Alternate sides.

7 Take a running jump

Fences and walls needn't mean a lengthy detour. The step vault, a common parkour move, combines safety and speed to let you clear waist-high obstacles with control. Approach the obstacle and put one hand on it, putting your weight through your shoulder and down your arm. Lift your opposite leg (the outer one) to place the ball of your foot on the obstacle. You should momentarily be balanced on the obstacle between one hand and the opposite leg, with both the palm and foot as flat as possible. Now just step through and continue running. ‘You land precisely on the other side while still gripping the obstacle,’ says ultrarunner and parkour fan Christopher McDougall, author of Born To Run. ‘So you land under control and can decide your next move.’

Matt joined Men’s Fitness in April 2014 as features writer after spending several years writing for a luxury lifestyle magazine, swapping champagne and canapés for cardio and leg days.

Matt is a keen Thai boxer and his interest in fitness took off when he made the decision to compete semi-professionally and had to get in shape. Training aside, he says the worst thing about fighting is resisting the urge to apologise all the time. 

Oh, and he’s still on the look out for a decent fight nickname after being told ‘The Best’ was reaching a little bit…

Favourite move: Any kind of squat variation

Favourite sport: MMA and Muay Thai kickboxing

Personal best: Competing in a semi-pro K1 bout

Targets: Sub-1hr 40m half marathon and winning a fight by KO

Scariest MF moment: Writing about myself in the third-person for this profile

Favourite MF website story: Spider-Man workout

Favourite trainer quote: ‘Hands up, chin down’ – every striking coach ever

Biggest gym crime: Avoiding the weights and sticking to the treadmill