The 20-Minute Full-Body Circuit Workout

 

ICPNo gym membership?  No equipment?  No problem!  If you have 20 to 30 minutes (dumbbells optional), you can do this very effective, full-body circuit workout!

If you’re relatively new to exercise or strength training, forgo the dumbbells.  If you’re at an intermediate to advanced level of fitness, at least five pound dumbbells are recommended.  Perform each exercise for 30 to 60 seconds, resting in between each move no more than 10 seconds.  Perform the circuit two to four times through, resting for two minutes in between each set.

 

  1. Squats: With your feet hip-width apart and holding medium to heavy dumbbells at your shoulders, bend your knees into a squat. Keep your back straight, your chest up and your shoulders back.  Return to standing.

Modifications:  Don’t use weights and don’t squat down as far.

OR

Jump squats:  Lower into a squat, extending your arms straight in front of you.  On the way back up, push off your feet into a hop, swinging your arms back and behind you.  Land toward the front of your feet, not your heels.

  1. Push-Ups: Start in a plank position. Your wrists, elbows, and shoulders are in one line and your core is activated so that you have a flat back, pushing through your heels to create length in your body. As you take an inhalation, lower your chest towards the floor. On exhalation, push your chest back up to the starting position.

Modification:  Perform on your knees with your hips lowered and aligned with your body.

  1. Split Squats: Holding a medium dumbbell in each hand, start by standing with one foot forward, and the other foot back. Bend both knees. The thigh of your front leg and the shin of your rear leg should be parallel to the floor. The knee of your rear leg should be almost touching the floor. Keep your front knee behind your front toe. Return to standing. Do 10 reps on one side, then switch for 10 on the other side.  Keep switching until your interval is finished.

Modifications:  Don’t use weights and don’t squat down as far.

  1. Chair Triceps Dips: Place your palms behind you on the seat of a sturdy chair with your knees bent and feet on the floor. To begin, lift your hips off the chair.  Slowly and gently bend your elbows and lower your body down in front of the chair. Keep your elbows facing the back of the room. Extend your arms and repeat.
  2. Sumo Squats: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your toes pointed outward.  Hold two medium dumbbells in front of you at chest level.  Keeping your tailbone tucked under, lower into a squat position with your knees tracking your toes.  Return to standing.

Modifications:  Don’t use weights and don’t squat down as far.

  1. Reverse Plank: Start in a seated position on the floor with your legs together and extended in front. Place your hands under your shoulders with your fingertips pointing in front of you. Lift your hips off the ground until your body is straight. 
  2. Wall Sit: Lean against a wall in “chair” position with your knees bent and your thighs as parallel to the floor as possible.
  1. Straight-Arm Plank: Keep your torso rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.  Your palms should be directly underneath your shoulders.

Modification:  Perform on your knees with your hips lowered and aligned with your body.

Awesome Abs: 5 Of the Best Crunch-less Moves

no-crunch abs workout

Descriptions and photos of these moves below!

 

Do you faithfully perform crunches, hoping to achieve a flat tummy? It may be time to mix it up a bit! Research shows that crunches are one of the worst abdominal moves in terms of how hard the obliques and rectus abdominus are worked.  The crunch only affects a small part of the core, repeatedly bends the spine, and burns few calories.  Try this no-crunch abs workout instead. Continue reading

The 20-Minute Fat-Torching Workout

                                                                                   *my workout was originally published on fitnessgoals.com.

If you don’t have the luxury of spending hours in the gym, here’s some good news…You don’t have to.

 

Research shows that high-intensity intervals of strength and/or cardio training burn just as much, and in some cases, more fat–in less time.

The following moves are extremely efficient.  Compound exercises allow you to keep your heart rate revved, firm up and burn mega fat all at once.  Intense workouts like this one will jack up your metabolism so that you’ll continue to burn calories for hours after your workout.

For maximum results, add cardio to this circuit.  Do two to four minutes of jogging, jumping jacks, jump ropes, or another cardio exercise between each of these moves.

Perform this circuit two to four times, resting one to two minutes in between.

 

squat to overhead press

Squat to Overhead Press

  1. Begin in a standing position.  Holding two medium dumbbells at your shoulders, with your feet hip-width apart, squat and return to standing.
  2. Once in standing position, extend your arms overhead and back to your shoulders.
  3. Repeat this sequence for 10 to 15 reps.

lunge with biceps curl

Lunge with Bicep Curl

  1. Holding light to medium dumbbells, extend your right leg, lunging forward.  Make sure your knee does not extend past your toe.  Simultaneously, keeping your arms close to your sides and elbows back by your ribcage, curl your arms up.
  2. As you return to standing, pushing off your front heel and extend your arms back to your sides.
  3. Do this 10 to 12 times, then repeat on the opposite leg.

static wall squat with lateral arm press

Static Wall Squat with Lateral Arm Raise

  1. Lean against a wall in “chair” position with your knees bent, holding two light dumbbells at your sides.  Bring your thighs as parallel to the floor as you can.  Keeping your arms fully extended, slowly raise them to shoulder level.
  2. Lower your arms slowly back to starting position.
  3. Repeat 10 to 15 times.

pile squat to triceps extension

Plie Squat with Triceps Extension

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your toes pointed outward.  Hold two light to medium dumbbells behind your head with your arms bent and elbows up.  Lower into a plie squat position and return to standing.
  2. Once in standing position, extend your arms up over your head, making sure to keep your upper arms still, not letting them drop in front of your face.  Bend your arms again to starting position.
  3. Repeat this sequence 10 to 15x.

Plank to push-up

Plank to Push-up

  1. Assume a plank position, keeping your abs tight and body straight and aligned.  Stay in this position for 10 seconds.
  2. Staying in this position or moving to your knees (but keeping your hips down), perform 10 push-ups.
  3. Return to plank position and repeat this sequence 2 to 3 times.

one legged bent over row

One Legged Bent Over Row

  1. Holding medium to heavy dumbbells, hinge forward at the waist, keeping your abs tight, shoulders back and back straight.  Let your arms extend to the floor.  Extend your left leg in the air behind you.
  2. Maintaining this position, bring your arms up, raising your elbows as high as they will go, and keeping them close to your sides.  Pause for a second, and return to starting position.
  3. Repeat for 10 reps, then do the same exercise with the opposite leg lifted.

 

Model: Shelby Elmore, NASM-CPT

Photography: Darian Simon-Toliver

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Burn Mega Fat With A Stability Ball

Stability ball…Swiss ball…Yoga ball…That big round blue ball…

You can find it in every fitness center, and you can buy one for around $15-$20.  It’s become a fitness staple because of its versatility and low cost (Work your core by sitting on it while you watch TV!).  Your kids will love it too (Just don’t let them pop it!).

Do you have one, but aren’t sure what to do with it?  Check out some of my favorite stability-ball moves.  Do these as a circuit, 2-3 times.  Do 10-18 reps per exercise.  Click on each photo for a demonstration. Continue reading

The Best (and Worst) Moves For Awesome Abs

truth-about-six-pack-abs-girl

Everyone pines for a six-pack.  People love to work their abs, and that’s good.  Your core is the foundation from where all your power originates.  Keep in mind that the core includes not only the abdominal muscles, but those of the back, glutes, spine, and hips (pelvic floor).  Keeping all of your core muscles strong also helps to prevent injury in athletes.

Before I continue, let me first say that you cannot spot reduce body fat on your waist, or anywhere else, for that matter.  You can strengthen your ab muscles with all of the exercises in the world, but without getting your heart-rate up through cardiovascular exercise, you won’t be able burn off the fat needed to see those strong abs you worked for.  So do your cardio!

People who want that flat tummy often gravitate toward crunches, because that’s the most well-known ab move.  However, research has shown that crunches are one of the worst ab moves in terms of how hard the obliques and rectus abdominus are worked.  The crunch only works a small part of the core, repeatedly bends the spine, and burns few calories.

The plank, a stabilizing move, works your whole core, as well as the transverse abdominus and your upper body.  It’s one of the best ab moves you can do.  What’s more, the possibilities with plank variations are endless!  Let’s first start with how to do a simple plank, because form is key:

With your forearms and toes on the floor:

plank1

  • Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
  • Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
  • Hold this position for 10 seconds to start.
  • Over time work up to 30, 45 or 60 seconds.  Don’t forget to breathe!

You can also do a plank with your arms fully extended, which works more of the upper body:

ICP

 

If you are a planking pro and can hold the pose for more than a couple of minutes, the simple plank is really no longer very effective for you.  It’s time to ramp it up a little!  Aside from the regular push-up, which is a great move, try one of these other variations below.  Happy planking!

Dolphin

dolphins

Plank Reach

plank reach

 

Single-Legged

0910-single-leg-plank

 

Reach & Raise

plank reach and raise

 

Lateral Walking Plank

Upper-Body-Core-Lateral-Plank-Walk

 

  • Simultaneously cross your right hand toward the left as you step your left foot out to the left. Then simultaneously step your left hand and right foot to the left, returning to the plank position. Your hands move together as your feet step apart. Take two more steps in this direction, keeping your abs pulled toward your spine and your pelvis level. This completes one rep.
  • Reverse directions, taking three steps the right.

 

Plank Up-Downs

plank up downs

 

Plank on Bosu Ball

bosu2

 

Side Plank

side plank

 

Plank Rows

plank rows

Sliding Plank

sliding-plank

 

Plank Walk-Out

 plank walkout

 

Oblique Crunch Plank

plank-oblique_-_step_2_max__v1

Bonus: Jack Knife on Stability Ball

jacknife

 

 

 

 

 

 

20 Minute Get-You-Through-The-Holidays Workout

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Time is tight this month.  Fitness-wise, the key is to maintain.  Even ten to twenty minutes makes a difference, as long as you make all of the those minutes count.  Too wet and icy for a run?  All you need to do is dust off that treadmill/stationary bike/elliptical, and get moving.  I know, I know…You’re utterly bored with your treadmill/stationary bike/elliptical.  Don’t worry, this interval workout breaks it up a little and keeps things exciting.  You’ll be finished before you know it!

I’m going to use the stationary bike in this workout, but you use whatever you have at home.  At the bottom are photos of a couple of the moves.

3 minutes – low-moderate intensity warm-up on bike

2 minutes – moderate-high intensity on bike

15 push-ups

12 burpees

18 reverse plank leg lifts

2 minutes – moderate intensity on bike

1 minute – moderate-high intensity on bike

1 minute – high intensity on bike

2 minutes – moderate intensity on bike

1 minute – moderate-high intensity on bike

1 minute – high intensity on bike

15 pushups

18 squat jumps

18 dancing crabs (touch your opposite hand to foot while in crab pose.  Alternate.)

3 minutes – moderate-low intensity cooldown

Photo 1: Reverse-Plank Alternating Leg Lifts.  Just do a reverse plank without the leg lift if you need to.

Photo 2: Dancing Crab.

reverse-plank-1leg

The Do-Anywhere Workout

kickboxing-punch-girl-smaller

 

Going on vacation?  Bring this workout with you.  It can be hard to squeeze in exercise when you’re out of town, but this one is short, intense, and to the point.

You can do it pretty much anywhere–Just grab your beach towel and you’re good to go!  It’s cardio and strength rolled up into one workout, targeting your whole body while simultaneously getting the heart pumping.  Do 8-20 reps of each, depending on your fitness level, and repeat the circuit for a total of 2-3 times through.  Don’t forget to spend a few minutes warming up/cooling down.

Focus on maintenance while on vacation, trying for at least three short workouts within the span of a week (if you can do more, all the better!).  This may include a beachside jog, a visit to your hotel’s fitness center, or an intense 20-45 minute circuit workout like this one.

 

 

Burpees

With your feet together, squat down and put your hands on the ground just in front of your feet. Keep your feet together and jump them back so you land in a push-up. Bend your arms and do a single push-up. Jump your feet back in and under your body and then leap up and into the air. Land on slightly-bent legs and repeat. (modifications–No push-up, no jump)

 

burpee

 

 

 

Floor Dips

Sit on the floor with your knees bent, one foot raised, hands on the floor behind you with fingers pointing toward body. To begin, lift hips off floor.  Slowly and gently bend your elbows and lower your body close to the floor. Keep abdominal muscles tight. Extend arms through the elbows and repeat.

 

floor-dips

 

 

High Knees

:30 to :60, at a moderately high/high intensity

Stand in place with your feet hip-width apart. Drive your right knee toward your chest and quickly place it back on the ground. Follow immediately by driving your left knee toward your chest. Continue to alternate knees as quickly as you can.

 

high knees

 

 

Lunge Twists

Hold the ends of your towel.  Lunge forward and rotate your torso in the same direction as your front leg lifting your arms diagonally above your head, then stand and return to center. Perform reps, then repeat on other side.

 

lunge twist

 

 

Pistol Squats

Stand on left leg. Hold right leg out in front of you so that your heel is just off the floor.  Using leg strength and balance, lower yourself down to the floor, keeping your right heel just above the floor the entire time. Keep your hands out in front of your body to help balance.  Go down until your hamstring touches your calf. Your right heel should still be about an inch off the ground.  Then stand back up.  Perform reps, then repeat on other side. (This is a very challenging move.  Don’t go down as far, if need be.  Do as many as you can, which may only be 1 on each leg.)

 

pistol-squat

 

 

Donkey Kicks With Pushups

Get into plank, with wrists aligned under your shoulders.  Perform a push-up, then jump feet toward hands.  Kick feet into the air, and bring heels toward the butt.  Jump feet back to starting position.  Repeat.

 

push up donkey

 

 

Towel Bicep Curls

 Put the towel just right under your knee and use the towel to elevate the leg. Keep your elbows at your waist and do a bicep curl. You’re actually lifting up the leg. Go half- way down. Exhale when you come up.
Keep your elbows at your sides when you do this.  Perform reps, and repeat on other side.

towel bicep

 

Tuck Jumps

Jump up bringing your knees as high as you can.  Land softly with feet under hips.

 

tuck-jump

 

 

Plank Press-Outs With Towel

On all fours, place folded towel under feet. Draw belly button into spine to engage abs and slightly lift knees off ground (don’t let hips lift up in the air). Press out through heels, sliding legs out into a full plank position (avoid sagging or lifting hips—body should make a line from heels to head). Brace abs in tighter and slide legs back in to start position (knees still hovering).

 

Sliding-Plank

 

 

Towel Boat Pose

Put your towel around one foot as you go into a boat pose.  Hold 15-30 seconds, breathing evenly.  Switch legs and repeat.

 

boat pose towel

 

 

 

 

 

Add Some Power to Your Push-Ups!

I love moves that mix cardio and strength conditioning, and this one has got to be near the top of the list!

Try the push-up jack.  This super-effective plyometric move gets your heart racing and works your whole body:

 

1-Start in a plank position. Your wrists, elbows, and shoulders are in one line and your core is activated so that you have a flat back, pushing through your heels to create length in your body.


2-As you take an inhalation, lower your chest towards the floor and jump your feet away from each other about two feet, like you are doing a jumping jack.


3-On your next exhalation, push your chest back up to the starting position as you engage your lower abs to hop your feet back together.

This is one repetition. See how many reps you can do in :60.  You can do it.  Really!!

The No Running, No Jumping, High Intensity Workout

So you want to slim down, but an injury or medical condition is preventing you from doing plyometrics, running or jumping.  Don’t worry!  You can still get your heart rate up and melt off unwanted fat.  Try this home workout, performing the circuit 2-3 times (Resting 1-2 minutes in between), doing 12-18 reps unless otherwise stated.  Try to do each move as fast as you can, while still maintaining good form.  You’ll need weights and a towel, and if you have them, a kettlebell and medicine ball.

 

plank walkout

Plank Walk-Out

Begin in a standing position.  Bend at the waist, keeping your knees soft.  Walk out to a full plank position and hold for 1 second.  Walk back to standing.  You can also perform this move beginning and ending in a squatting position.   Do this move quickly but still maintaining good form.

 

 

kickboxing-punch-girl-smaller

Kickboxing

Punch and/or kick for 1 minute.  Do any combination of kickboxing moves that you prefer, or just do simple alternating jabs.  You can use a punching bag and gloves, if you have them.  Perform the moves with intensity, going as quickly as you can and keeping your arms tight.

 

dumbbell-bent-over-row

Squatting Rows

Pictured is a bent over row with dumbbells.  Do this, but also add a squat simultaneously as you lift the weights.  This increases the calorie burn.  Use the heaviest weights that you can while keeping good form.  Keep your back flat.

 

 

 

elbow donkey kick plank

 

Elbow Plank Donkey Kick

Get into a lower plank position and lift one leg in the air, bending the knee.  Extend your leg upward, and return to starting position.  Switch sides.

2b-Opposite-Arm-Raise-Sweep

 

 

Dumbbell Arm Sweeps

Using light to medium weights, go into a static half-squatting position.  Alternately swing the weights front to back for 1 minute, maintaining control in the arms.

 

 

 

 

 

sliding-plank

 

 

 

Sliding Plank

Place a folded towel or floor gliders on a smooth floor.  Get into a plank position, resting your feet on the towel/gliders.  Slide your knees up toward your arms, holding for one second, then return to starting position.

 

 

 

 

kettlebell-figure-eight-exercise-525x328

 

Kettlebell/Dumbbell Standing Figure 8’s

Grab a kettlebell, or one dumbbell by the end, in one hand, and go into a static, wide, half-squat position.  Hinging slightly at the waist and keeping your back straight, bring the weight in between your legs and grab it with the other hand.  Repeat on the other side, making a figure 8 motion around your legs.  Do this as quickly as you can, keeping your knees bent and maintaining good form for 1 minute.

 

mb41_medicine_ball_workouts_figure_8_crunch3-300x200

Ball/Dumbbell Sitting Figure 8’s

  • Start sitting on the floor, knees bent, holding the ball or a light weight.  Lean back 45 degrees and then move the ball around the legs, making a figure 8.  Squeeze the stomach and breathe.  Do this as fast as you can for :30.