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4-Week fitness challenge: Week 3

Laura Williams, M.S.Ed. is a personal trainer, freelance writer and entrepreneur who works with a wide variety of fitness clients. She's the founder of the popular website, - Girls Gone Sporty, and she's the host of the High Impact Blogg...

7 High-intensity exercises that help build endurance

You're three weeks into this four-week fitness challenge. By now you've developed a workout habit, and you've enhanced your strength and cardiovascular capacity. Now it's time to kick things up another notch.

How it works:

This week you'll perform this routine once, adding it to the two workouts from week one and week two's workout. So, you're up to four total workouts this week!

The goal this week is to increase your heart rate for intense bursts of work interspersed with periods of rest. High-intensity workouts are short, sweet and tough. Because you get to rest here and there throughout the routine, you're able to push yourself harder and experience a greater calorie burn and cardiovascular load.

  • You'll need: Just your body
  • The workout: Perform each exercise as fast and hard as you can for 45 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of rest before moving on to the next exercise; rest one minute after finishing all seven exercises; repeat the full series three times

1. T-jacks

7 High-intensity exercises that help build endurance

  1. T-jacks are the exact opposite of jumping jacks. Start with your feet together, your knees slightly bent, your arms out laterally in a "T" formation.
  2. Hop your feet out laterally as you draw your arms down to your sides, landing with your knees slightly bent.
  3. Continue as fast as you can with good form for the full 45 seconds.

2. Mountain climbers

7 High-intensity exercises that help build endurance

  1. Start in a push-up position, your palms beneath your shoulders and your legs extended behind you, your body forming a straight line.
  2. Draw your left knee in toward your chest, lightly touching your toes to the ground.
  3. Hop your left leg backward as you extend your knee, and simultaneously hop your right leg forward as you draw your right knee in toward your chest.
  4. Immediately hop both legs back to the starting position (left leg forward, right leg back) and continue the exercise as fast as you can for the full 45 seconds.

3. Lunge to front kick

7 High-intensity exercises that help build endurance

  1. Stand with your feet hip distance apart, your knees slightly bent.
  2. Lunge your left leg forward, planting your foot with your weight on your left heel. Bend both knees and lower your back knee to the floor.
  3. Just before your back knee touches down, shift your weight forward and press through your left foot as you draw your right knee up in front of your body, kicking your right heel forward. Only kick your leg up as high as you comfortably can, and keep your left leg slightly bent to help with balance and stability.
  4. Reverse the movement, returning to a lunge before you press yourself back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat on the other side, then continue the alternating lunge with kick for the full 45 seconds, paying special attention to form rather than speed.

4. Squat with upper cuts

7 High-intensity exercises that help build endurance

  1. Step your legs out wide, your toes angling outward. Bend your knees and lower yourself into a half squat, your weight centered between your heels.
  2. Create fists with your hands and hold them in front of your body, your elbows bent. Tighten your arms, shoulders and core.
  3. Punch your right arm in an uppercut in front of your body — punching up and across your body in an angled fashion, your torso may rotate slightly as you punch, so keep your core and hips tight to protect your back.
  4. Immediately follow the right punch with a left punch, and continue the right-left uppercuts as fast as you can while maintaining good form. Continue for the full 45-seconds.

5. 180-degree jumping lunge

7 High-intensity exercises that help build endurance

  1. Stand with your feet staggered, your left foot a few feet in front of your right, your weight in your left heel. Bend both knees and lower your back knee toward the floor, keeping your torso upright and tall.
  2. Push through your left heel and return to standing, then jump up into the air, turning your body 180 degrees, so you land with your right foot in front, your left foot in back, your knees slightly bent.
  3. Go back down into a lunge, return to standing, then again jump into the air and turn 180 degrees.
  4. Continue this lunge-hop-lunge sequence for the full 45 seconds. Focus on form, rather than speed.

6. V-thrusts

7 High-intensity exercises that help build endurance

  1. Start in a full push-up position, your hands beneath your shoulders, your legs extended straight behind you, your weight on the balls of your feet. Your body should form a straight line from heel to head.
  2. Hop your feet forward, so your knees are pulled into your chest, your back is still straight, your weight on the balls of your feet.
  3. Hop your legs back and to the right, so they're positioned diagonally to the right of your shoulders.
  4. Hop your feet back up to center, then hop your legs back and to the left, so that this time they're positioned diagonally to the left of your shoulders.
  5. Continue this "V" formation as you hop up-back-up-back for the full 45 seconds. Keep your core strong and tight to protect your back during each hopping phase, landing light on the balls of your feet.

7. Super bananas

7 High-intensity exercises that help build endurance

  • Lie on your stomach, your legs extended behind you, your arms reaching in front of you.
  • In a single movement, tighten your core and lift your arms and legs from the ground, as if you were flying like Superman. Hold for a second, then lower to the ground.
  • Roll over to your back, your arms at your sides and your legs extended.
  • In a single movement, tighten your core and lift your legs from the ground as you also crunch your shoulders from the floor. Hold for a second and reverse the movement.
  • Roll back to your stomach and continue this superman-banana combination for the full 45 seconds.
Images: Laura Williams for SheKnows

More four-week fitness challenge workouts

Week 1: The baseline workout
Week 2: The strength workout
Week 4: The flexibilty workout

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