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A 4-week fitness challenge that will make you feel incredible

After a month of holiday partying, it’s time to get down to business. Refocus and recharge your fitness routine by trying this four-week fitness kickstart program.

If the only curls you’ve done in the last month were cheese curls (yum), then this series will be challenging but rewarding.

How it works

The program involves a slow build, starting with just two workouts per week for the first week, then adding one additional workout to the program each week. By the end of the four weeks, you’ll be up to five workouts per week, including strength, cardio and flexibility training.

The good news is the workouts are short and sweet. This week’s workout is a baseline builder. The idea is to redevelop endurance and strength with a 30-minute circuit routine that involves body-weight cardio and strength training moves. Perform the full routine two times this week.

  • You’ll need: Just your body!
  • The workout: Perform each exercise for one minute, perform the circuit three times through.

1. Cross country ski jumps

Cross country ski jumps

  1. Start with your legs staggered, your left foot about two feet in front of the right. Place most of your weight on your right heel, your knees bent, your left heel coming up off the ground.
  2. Extend your right arm directly in front of you, as if you were holding a ski pole, with your left arm down at your side. Engage the muscles of your arms.
  3. In a single motion, hop both feet up, scissoring their positions so you land with your left foot forward, your right foot back, maintaining a slight bend in your knees. As you switch your foot position, also swing your left arm forward and your right arm back.
  4. Continue this alternating cross-country ski hop as fast as you can while maintaining good form.

2. Alternating power lunges

Alternating power lunges

  1. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, your knees slightly bent. Lunge forward with your left foot, planting it solidly on the ground and pressing your weight through its heel as you bend your right knee and lower it toward the ground. Keep your torso upright and tall, and watch the alignment of your front knee — it should track with your toes without extending in front of your toes.
  2. When your right knee almost touches the ground, shift your weight forward slightly and push yourself to standing through your left heel as you draw your right knee up in front of your body.
  3. Reverse the movement to return to start, then repeat on the opposite side.
  4. Continue to alternate between sides for the full minute.

3. Step-ups

Step ups

  1. Stand directly behind a sturdy chair or bench (I used a sturdy storage ottoman), your feet hip-distance apart.
  2. Plant your left foot solidly on the chair or bench and press through your heel to step up onto the platform.
  3. Step back down and repeat on the other side, continuing to alternate for the full minute.

4. Jumping jacks

Jumping jacks

  1. Stand with your feet together, arms at your sides, knees slightly bent.
  2. In a single movement, jump both feet out laterally as you swing your arms over your head.
  3. Quickly jump back to the starting position and continue.

5. Plank step-outs

Plank step outs

  1. Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, your toes angled outward. Bend your knees and squat straight down, planting your palms on the ground directly under your shoulders.
  2. Step your left leg straight back, supporting yourself on the ball of your foot and your toes, then step your right leg straight back to meet it, ending in a plank position.
  3. Check your form, making sure your body forms a straight line from heels to head, holding the plank for five seconds before reversing the movement, stepping your right leg forward, followed by your left.
  4. Immediately step back into a plank position, holding it again for five seconds, before stepping back to the low squat. Continue for the full minute.

6. Rotating push-ups

Rotating pushups

  1. Start in a push-up position. You can either do this on your knees or your toes. Just make sure your palms are planted under your shoulders, but slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Also, check to be sure your body forms a straight line from heels to head or knees to head, depending on your chosen start position.
  2. Bend your elbows, lowering your chest toward the floor, your elbows pointing out and back at an approximately 45-degree angle.
  3. When your chest is a few inches from the ground, shift your weight onto your left palm and rotate your right hip up toward the sky as you press yourself away from the ground, extending your left elbow and taking your right hand off the ground.
  4. Finish the rotation in a side plank position, making sure your hips are lifted so your body forms a straight line from feet to head (or knees to head if you’re doing knee push-ups).
  5. Rotate back to the push-up position, perform another push-up, this time performing the rotation to side plank on the opposite side.
  6. Continue the push-up-to-side plank rotation, alternating between sides for the full minute.

7. Bear crawl

Bear crawl

  1. Start on your hands and knees on the floor, your heels flexed, your toes planted on the ground.
  2. Press through your palms and lift your knees from the floor by just a few inches, so your weight is supported on the balls of your feet and your palms.
  3. Step your right hand forward a few inches, followed by your left foot. Then step your left hand forward a few inches, followed by your right foot. Your knees remain off the ground as you crawl forward, your back straight and butt low (not pointing up toward the ceiling).
  4. Take several steps forward with your hands and feet, then reverse the movement and take several steps backward.
  5. Continue the forward-backward crawl for the full minute.

8.Chair dips

Chair dips

  1. Sit on the front of a sturdy chair or bench, your feet several feet in front of you, balanced on your heels, your ankles flexed.
  2. Press your butt up off the chair, shifting your weight in front of it.
  3. Bend your elbows and lower your butt toward the ground, keeping your elbows in toward your body so that they point straight backward as you bend them. (They shouldn’t splay out to the sides.)
  4. When your elbows form a 90-degree angle, press through your palms and engage your triceps to push yourself back to start. Continue for the full minute.

9. Reverse plank

Reverse plank

  1. Sit on the ground, your legs extended, your palms on the ground slightly behind you, your fingers pointing toward your feet.
  2. Engage your core and press your hips upward until your body forms a straight line from heels to head. Hold for five seconds.
  3. Lower yourself carefully to start, then continue repeating for the full minute.

10. Alternating arm-leg extension

Alternating arm-leg extension

  1. Start on your hands and knees on the ground.
  2. Engage your core, and in a single movement, extend your left arm directly in front of your left shoulder as you extend your right knee and hip directly behind you. Your body should form a straight line from fingers to toes.
  3. Reverse the movement, returning to start, then repeat on the opposite side. Continue alternating sides for the full minute.
Images: Laura Williams for SheKnows

More four-week fitness challenge workouts

Week 2: Building strength
Week 3: Enhancing endurance
Week 4: Improving flexibility

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