Calorie-torching exercises that tone in two weeks
Uh-oh, you completely forgot about your high school reunion and now it's just two weeks away. How in the world can you get LBD ready in such a short period of time? It won't be easy, but with this calorie-torching circuit routine, you'll start toning up in no time.
The beauty of circuit training is you get a "two-fer" workout. When programmed correctly, you'll increase your heart rate for calorie-torching effects, while simultaneously strengthening your major muscle groups to get that toned-up look. This circuit training routine is designed specifically to help you see greater results, faster, so don't expect it to be easy. The total workout lasts approximately 45 minutes, and you'll keep moving the whole way through, stopping only for water breaks between circuits.
- Sturdy bench or plyo box
- 5 to 15 pound medicine ball
- Set of 8 to 15 pound dumbbells
- Yoga mat
- 5 minutes: step-ups
- 60 seconds: wide to narrow leg squat with medicine ball
- 60 seconds: plyometric push-ups
- 60 seconds: lateral slides
- 60 seconds: walking lunge with a twist holding a medicine ball
- 60 seconds: dumbbell dead lift row
- 60 seconds: mountain climbers
- 60 seconds: V-sits
- 60 seconds: plié squat with calf raise holding a medicine ball
Complete the full circuit without rest between exercises, take a break for water, then repeat the entire circuit two more times. Finish the workout with five more minutes of step-ups.
Increase your heart rate and work your lower body with the step-up exercise.
- Stand facing a sturdy bench or plyo box at least 12 inches high. Place one foot firmly on the center of the bench and press up, stepping your other foot onto the bench.
- Reverse the movement and step down.
- Alternate which leg initiates the step-up and step as fast as you comfortably can for the full five minutes.
Wide to narrow squat with medicine ball
Squats are an excellent exercise to tone and strengthen your quads, hamstrings, and glutes, and by alternating between wide-leg squats and narrow-leg squats, you target your muscles in different ways. You can even get your upper body in on the action by holding a medicine ball directly in front of your chest with both hands, pressing your palms into the medicine ball to statically engage your shoulders, chest, biceps and triceps.
- Start with your feet together, your knees slightly bent. Hold the medicine ball with both hands at chest-height. Press your palms tightly against the ball, as if you were trying to smash the ball between your hands.
- Tip your hips backward and bend your knees, as though you were sitting down in a chair. When your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle, reverse the movement and press yourself back to standing.
- Immediately step out wide with your left foot, planting it firmly on the ground. Immediately squat down again, and when you return to standing, step your left foot back to center.
- Perform another narrow-leg squat, but when you return to standing, step your right leg out wide to perform the next wide-leg squat.
- Continue alternating between wide and narrow squats.
Improve your upper body power, increase your heart rate and strengthen your chest, biceps and core by performing plyometric push-ups. If you're strong enough to perform these while in a full push-up or knee push-up position, go for it, but if you're not quite ready for that step, start by performing the exercise on an incline by placing your hands on a bench or against a wall to complete the exercise.
- Start in a push-up position with your palms flat against the floor, bench or wall, positioned so they're in line with your shoulders. Make sure your body forms a straight line from your head to your heels — your back shouldn't sway and your butt shouldn't be pointing up toward the ceiling.
- Bend your elbows and lower your chest toward your hands. When your chest is just shy of touching your hands, press explosively through your palms, extending your elbows as you push your body away from the floor, bench or wall. Your hands should actually lift up and away from the surface you're using.
- Allow gravity to bring your palms back to the surface, "catching" yourself so your arms don't collapse beneath you. Immediately lower yourself back into another plyometric push-up.
Get your heart pumping as you engage your abductors (your outer thighs) and adductors (inner thighs) and strengthen your core with the lateral slide exercise.
- Mark out a space approximately 10 to 12 feet wide.
- Start by standing in the center of the space, then slide to the right side of the space, reaching down and across your body to touch the edge of the space with your left hand, before immediately sliding to the left side of the space, reaching down and across your body to touch the edge with your right hand.
- Continue sliding back and forth as fast as you can for the full 60 seconds. Keep your core tight and your spine in neutral alignment throughout the exercise.
Walking lunge with twist holding a medicine ball
Work your lower half, strengthen your core, and tone up your arms with this twisting lunge movement.
- Stand with your feet hip distance apart, squeezing a medicine ball between your palms at chest-height.
- Step forward about 2 to 3 feet with your right foot, bend both knees, and lower your back knee toward the floor, all the while keeping your upper body upright and your front heel planted.
- As your knee approaches the ground, twist your upper body as a unit toward the right, turning as far as you can without compromising form.
- When your back knee is just shy of touching the floor, press up to standing, immediately stepping your left foot about 2 to 3 feet in front of your right foot.
- Repeat the lunge and twist, this time twisting your torso to the left.
- Continue the walking lunge and twist for the full 60 seconds.
Dumbbell dead lift row
Tone and tighten your hamstrings, glutes and back with the dumbbell dead lift row.
- Stand with your feet hip distance apart, your knees slightly bent. Hold a dumbbell in each hand directly in front of your thighs, your palms facing toward your body.
- Press your glutes backward as you hinge forward from the hips, lowering your chest toward the floor. Make sure you're keeping your spine in alignment and your core tight as you hinge forward. The dumbbells should "graze" the front of your thighs down toward your knees and shins as you allow your arms to simply follow the movement naturally.
- When you've tipped forward as far as you comfortably can (you should start feeling a stretch in the back of your hamstrings), rotate your palms so they're facing inward and immediately pull your elbows back and up toward your body, grazing your sides as you squeeze your shoulders together.
- Reverse the movement and lower the dumbbells back to their starting point, then "pull" yourself back to standing by engaging your hamstrings and glutes.
- Continue the dead lift row combo for the full 60 seconds.
Mountain climbers are a serious cardio exercise that will also work your chest, shoulders, triceps, core and hip flexors (just to name a few). If at any point you can no longer hop your feet back and forth (trust me, it gets hard!), simply step your feet back and forth instead.
- Place your hands on the floor under your shoulders and extend your legs behind you so that you're in a push-up position.
- Pull one knee up toward your torso and rest your toes lightly on the ground, almost as if you were about to start running.
- In a single movement, hop both feet off the ground and alternate their positions so that when they hit the ground, the backward-extended leg is forward and bent and the bent-forward leg is extended backward.
- Continue hopping your legs back and forth as fast as you comfortably can.
Work your core with the V-sit exercise
- Sit on the plyo box or bench with your body in a V-formation, your feet off the floor, your knees pulled in toward your chest. Place your hands behind you on the bench or box for support, if needed.
- Keeping your torso angled slightly backward, extend your legs fully to a wide "V"
- Pull your knees back in to your chest, forming a narrow "V."
- Continue this exercise for the full 60 seconds.
Plié squat with calf raise holding a medicine ball
Tighten up your abductors, your glutes, quads and calves with this static-dynamic movement. Simultaneously tone your upper body by squeezing a medicine ball between your palms at chest-height.
- Step your legs out wide, rotating your toes outward so they point away from your body's mid-line. Bend your knees slightly and squeeze a medicine ball between your palms at chest height.
- Bend your knees, concentrating on keeping your knees in alignment with your toes (you'll need to squeeze your outer thighs and glutes to make this happen), lowering yourself into a deep squat. Your knees should form 90-degree angles and they should not extend out over your toes.
- Hold this position steady for the full 60-second duration of the exercise — this part of the exercise is static.
- As you hold the low squat, lift your heels up off the ground, rising up onto your toes for a dynamic calf raise. Hold your heels up off the floor for five seconds before lowering them back down to the ground.
- Immediately rise back up onto your toes, holding the position for another five seconds before lowering. Continue the calf raise movement for the full 60 seconds.