Modern games come with plenty of down time that we usually spend perusing our endless Twitter feeds, staring at the loading bar, or, with the advent of battle royale games, watching teammates attempt win the game after we died in the first circle. Instead of wasting precious time looking at useless screens, here are some quick activities that get the heart pumping and can turn a failed round of Fortnite into a successful workout.
The battle royale routine
The average battle royale round can last anywhere from 15 seconds to over 30 minutes, and with a squad of teammates, you can spend nearly half an hour staring at them after dying early. This is the perfect opportunity to squeeze in a quick workout, and with such a generous timespan there is the possibility of burning some serious calories while your friends keep fighting.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is the epitome of an efficient and effective workout routine, pushing a full body workout into intervals that last only a few minutes apiece. With repeated sets, this routine is perfect for any battle royale and can be adjusted for length, making it a great option whether you die in the first circle or the last.
The key to HIIT training is intensity — these are short segments that work by really pushing your body for that duration, so each move is completed at maximum intensity. These moves require no equipment, little knowledge of fitness, and can be completed by most anyone. (Friendly suggestion for the benefit of your squadmates, you should probably mute your mic before beginning the routine.)
High knees: Running in place, bring your knees as high as you can to your chest, alternating each leg.
Plank shoulder tap: Take a plank position on your palms (like you’re doing a push-up), keeping your core tight, your glutes squeezed and your feet only a few inches apart, bring one hand off the floor and tap the opposite shoulder, alternating back and forth.
Jumping jacks: A classic move, start with your hands at your sides and your legs together, jump the legs out and bring your hands up above your head together.
Mountain climbers: Take a plank position on your hands and alternate bringing one knee to the chest while on the floor, simulating a run while in a plank.
Do each of these for 20 seconds and then repeat in reverse:
1. High knees (20 Seconds)
2. Plank shoulder tap (20 Seconds)
3. Jumping jacks (20 Seconds)
4. Mountain climbers (20 Seconds)
5. High knees (20 Seconds)
6. Mountain climbers (20 Seconds)
7. Jumping jacks (20 Seconds)
8. Plank shoulder tap (20 Seconds)
9. High knees (20 Seconds), etc.
The workout only lasts 3 minutes and can be repeated as many times as you want depending on the length of your gaming downtime; just be sure to take a couple minutes in-between each round as a break and to perform these moves at maximum intensity.
The load screen routine
For those who aren’t inclined toward online games and but spend time playing any game with long load times (like Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, Prey, Just Cause 4, Bloodborne, Fallout 4, or any game that frontloads like The Last of Us), there are other options available to get active.
While the above HIIT workout still is an option, these quicker loads are the perfect time to throw down some core moves. Your core can be worked consistently and more repeatedly than many other muscles groups, and short, intense sections of core training, for five days a week, is an effective way to maintain core strength and help improve those abs.
These load times can range from 20 seconds, all the way to three minutes. To make the most of that shorter window, form is everything, so make sure to squeeze the core, breathe out and get the full range of motion from the floor to the top of the move. A quick and efficient workout should hit all parts of your core, with upper and lower abs, and your obliques. Time under tension is the other key factor, keeping your core engaged while doing the move. Focusing on your whole body and working to stay stable while completing a move will do wonders.
90/90 crunch: This works your upper and lower abs simultaneously. Lying flat on the floor, bring the legs up and bend the knees, crossing one foot over the other or bringing them together parallel and holding them in this position the whole time, squeezing the lower abs. Then, bring the hands behind the head and do a normal crunch with your upper abs, making sure to breathe out as you come up and squeeze the core; don’t push your stomach out. Also make sure not to pull your head with your hands or tense your neck, let your core do the work.
Fifer scissors/Abs scissors: This move targets your legs, glutes and lower abs. Lay flat on the floor, with your legs down, bring one leg up and keep it as straight as you can without bringing your foot over your face, alternate back and forth, breathing the whole time, squeezing the lower abs and flexing the legs as straight as you can. Try to keep the leg that is down hovering above the floor, with that heel an inch off the ground. If this is too difficult, modify and let that leg touch the floor while the other is up. Your hands should be close to your sides and flat on the floor with your head down and neck relaxed. Don’t do the work with your neck, squeezing your neck won’t do anything to help your core workout but it will hurt you later. Do not arch your back!
Oblique crunch: This is basically a modified crunch with a literal twist. You lay flat, with your feet on the floor and knees bent, like a normal upper-ab crunch, but when you crunch, twist your torso, bring that elbow toward the knee without picking up your legs, squeeze your obliques and your serratus (generally, the outer abdominal muscles around your ribs) while alternating sides.
Starfish crunch: The toughest on the list, lay flat in an X, with your arms and legs outstretched, bring the opposite arm to the opposite foot, and squeeze them both up off the ground, crunching up, alternate each side. Your limbs should all be hovering above the floor the whole time, keeping your abs under constant tension. To modify, just let the side that isn’t crunching rest on the floor.
1. 90/90 crunch (1 Minute)
2. Fifer scissors (30 Seconds)
3. Oblique crunch (1 Minute)
4. Starfish crunch (30 Seconds)
This workout is only two minutes but will make your abs work and hit your whole core. For those looking for something quick, efficient and fun, the Baby Shark ab challenge is always an option (this is not a joke). It was created for kids but is very difficult and keeps your core under tension the entire time for the duration of the short song (around 2 minutes). And no, you don’t have to listen to the song to do the routine, just set a timer.
These are just a few options for fitting in some exercise and will never be able to replace a healthy diet, and a full, designed routine based on your needs, but it certainly won’t hurt to get up and moving during the amount of time we spend staring at loading screens or waiting for our buddies to secure that victory royale.
Derek Swinhart is a freelance writer and a personal trainer with a passion for video games. You can follow him on Twitter @Derek_Swinhart.