This is the ultimate endorphin-boosting workout, according to a fitness expert

This expert trainer reveals her go-to workout that’s guaranteed to get the happy hormones flowing this winter

Shot of a young woman working out on an exercise bike in a gym
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There have been numerous scientific studies that have proven the benefits of exercise on mental health, with regular workouts attributed to everything from reducing the risk of neurological diseases, to improving learning and memory.

That’s a good thing because the cold, dark weather we have been experiencing for so long in the Northern Hemisphere can have a huge impact on our mood, with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) impacting the lives of over 2 million Brits, according to one study.

Thankfully, scientists (via yet another study) have found that exercise can help combat the symptoms of SAD, including exhaustion and depression. In fact, all you need to do is set aside four hours a week - or around 35 minutes per day - in order to massively reduce bouts of depression.

To provide some much-needed ‘gym-spiration’, guaranteed to get the endorphins flowing, The Gym Group’s Master Trainer, Jenni Tardiff, and TGG team from around its 232 nationwide gyms have curated a simple but effective workout with member-favourite exercises to get the heart rate pumping and your mood boosted. 

According to Jenni, there’s even an optimal ‘happy hour’ in which to coax the most mood-boosting chemicals from your brain. “If you want to supercharge your workout, get it done first thing in the morning to set you up for the day ahead with a surge in energy. However, any form of movement, at any time of day, is guaranteed to put a spring in our step!’ she says.

In fact, studies suggest that working out in the morning leads to increased fat-burning capabilities thanks to the unique hormone profiles upon waking, as well as reducing the motivation for food following a workout.

In addition to this, further studies have found exercising in the morning helps boost productivity throughout the day, reduces stress and can even help you sleep better that night. Surely that’s enough motivation to get you hooked on the workout below.

Woman with upper body muscles smiling

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The ultimate mood-boosting workout

“The Happy Hour workout has been designed to showcase all the best elements of strength, cardio and HIIT training, including using some of our high-spec gym kit - all exercise formats will help to elicit the highest level of feel-good chemicals, endorphins and opioid peptides, in the brain,” Jenni explains.

“If possible, a 60-minute workout is the optimum time to feel an ‘endorphin high’, but any form of moderate-high level of exercise will deliver a boost in mood,” she adds.

Adjust the intensity and weights to match your fitness level and gradually progress as you become more comfortable with the workout. Take time to set up the circuit so you don’t have to wander around fetching weights in between intervals.

Should your gym or workout zone lack some of the equipment, feel free to swap out and replace it. For example, sled push could be replaced with a gradually increasing incline run on the treadmill.

Similarly, Assault Bike sprints could be replaced with standard static bike sprints or even burpees. Any move that combines an elevated heart rate with some resistance will do. Mix it up and have fun.

Young Woman Weightraining at the Gym

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Warm Up (10 minutes)

It’s important to warm up to prepare your muscles and elevate your heart rate. This could be a combination of dynamic stretching and light cardio, with movements like leg swings, arm circles, bodyweight squats, and five minutes of brisk walking or light jogging on the treadmill.

Circuit (up to 45 minutes)

Perform each exercise for one minute, then move to the next one. Rest for as long as needed between exercises, although aim to reduce rest periods as the weeks progress. Repeat the circuit as many times as possible within the allocated 45 minutes.

Treadmill Intervals (one  minute)

Set the treadmill to a moderate pace for walking or jogging. Gradually increase the speed or incline to a challenging level (e.g. a fast run). As you come to the end of the exercise, return to the initial pace.

Sled Push (one minute)

Load the sled with an appropriate weight, keeping it challenging but manageable.

Push the sled with force and determination. Focus on using your legs, not just your upper body.  Small quick steps with a firm hold on the sled. Arms can be extended or in close grip of the sled handles.

Slam Balls (one minute)

Hold a slam ball with both hands and choose a weight that challenges you. Lift the slam ball overhead and forcefully slam it to the ground. Catch the ball on the bounce and repeat the motion for one minute. Maintain a strong core and use your whole body for power.

Air Bike Sprints (one minute)

Pedal feet and arms as fast as you can on the air bike. Gradually adjust the pace to a challenging level for you. Focus on maintaining a high cadence throughout.

Deadlifts (one minute)

Use a barbell or dumbbell to perform deadlifts. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, keeping your back straight and shoulders back. Bend at the hips and knees to lower the weights to the ground. Keep the weights close to your body and stand up straight to complete the lift.

Use a challenging weight that allows you to maintain proper form. Perform as many as you can within the time. 

Cool-down (five minutes)

Finish the workout with a five-minute cooldown to gradually bring your heart rate down. Perform static stretches for all major muscle groups, focusing on your legs, lower back, shoulders, and arms.

Want more? Here are five exercises proven to make you happier, according to a different fitness expert.

Leon Poultney

Leon has been writing about automotive and consumer tech for longer than he cares to divulge. When he’s not testing the latest fitness wearable and action camera, he’s out in a shed fawning over his motorcycles or trying not to kill himself on a mountain bike/surfboard/other extreme thing. He's also a man who knows his tools, and he's provided much of T3's drills coverage over the years, all without injuring himself.