Want to firm up and burn those holiday pounds away? Make speed variance your secret sweat weapon. When your to-do list is long, now is the time to get creative with your cardio, combining it with strength-building moves so you can maximize both your time and effort.

Trainer, fitness model, and author of YES MAM! Your Muscle As a Motivator Nicole Chaplin designed this series of strength-plyo circuits to make every workout count and to “push you into a higher fat-burning zone,” she says. Plus, you’ll burn out your muscles without even thinking about it.

1: UPPER-BODY SHRED CIRCUIT

Select a challenging weight for Exercises 1, 3, and 5; and for No. 8, use light weights. See below for select descriptions and more circuits.

1. Dumbbell Chest Flye

2. Pushup With Alternating Side-Plank Rotation

3. Barbell Biceps Curl

4. TRX Biceps Curl

5. Cable Triceps Extension

6. TRX Triceps Extension

7. One-Minute Bicycle

8. Lower-Back Extension On A Swiss Ball Or Machine

SEE ALSO:The Crushing-It Core Workout

PUSHUP WITH ALTERNATING SIDE-PLANK ROTATION

Begin in a full plank position with hands on floor beneath shoulders, fingers spread, and body in line from top of head to heels. Keeping gaze down between your hands, lower your chest toward the floor, trying to keep your elbows close to your sides. As you press back up, lift your right arm toward the ceiling, shifting your weight onto your left hand and keeping body in a straight line but chest open to righthand wall.

TRX BICEPS CURL

Set up a TRX suspension system on the high setting. Walk your feet in close toward where the TRX is anchored. Holding onto handles, straighten arms so your body is about 45 degrees to floor, rotating palms to face up. Keeping your elbows static, perform a curl by pulling your body weight toward the TRX, using your biceps to drive the movement. Return to start and repeat for given reps.

HOW TO DO IT

  • Perform this type of training two to three times a week.
  • Beginners: Twice a week do two to three sets of 8–12 reps of each exercise, 15 to 20 seconds’ rest between moves, using lighter weights.
  • Rest up to 90 seconds between rounds.
  • Intermediate/Advanced: Three times a week do three to four sets of 15–20 reps of each exercise, 15 to 20 seconds’ rest between moves, using heavier weights.
  • Rest up to 45 seconds between rounds.
  • Make sure to keep proper form until the very last rep.
  • Perform the following circuits on different days and give each all you’ve got.

2: LOWER-BODY BOOST CIRCUIT

Select a challenging weight for Exercises 1, 3, and 5.

1. Curtsey Lunge

2. Squat Jump

3. Cable Kickback

4. Half Jack

5. Pistol Squat

6. Situp

7. One-Minute Plank

PISTOL SQUAT

Hold a kettlebell at chest height with both hands (or in your right hand above your head, shown above). Shift weight to right leg and lift left leg in front of you about two inches off floor. As you lift your leg, lower your hips toward floor until thighs are at least parallel to floor. Try to keep your chest up and a natural arch in lower back throughout. Beginners: Perform a single-leg squat on a six- to 12-inch box; lower hips into a squat as you lift your free leg forward as much as possible.

SEE ALSO: Get Your Lower Body Boost Workout

HALF JACK

Begin with feet together and arms straight at your sides. Lower hips into a high squat. Jump legs out into a sumo squat while simultaneously moving arms in an arc overhead, clapping them at the top. Return to start, staying in a squat throughout. Tip: Don’t lift your torso—just move your arms together so they clap above your head during the jumping jack movement.

THE SCIENCE OF SWITCHING IT UP

By alternating between slow strength moves and fast plyometric movements, your body learns to use oxygen more efficiently, “which can quickly improve your heart, blood cells, and lung’s ability to supply oxygen-rich blood to the working muscle tissues,” Chaplin says. That’s great news for those who hate cardio, too, because you get a cardiovascular boost, muscle development, and fat burn all at once.

3: CRUSHING-IT CORE CIRCUIT

1. Situp

2. Mountain Climber (Both Right And Left Leg Coming To Chest Equals 1 Rep)

3. Bicycle Press With Resistance Band

4. Side-Plank Leg Lift

5. Crunch With Dumbbells(Arms Straight)

6. Horizontal Scissor

7. Burpee (10 Reps)*

8. Full-Arm-Extension Superman

BICYCLE PRESS WITH RESISTANCE BAND

Lie faceup on the floor with legs extended. Loop a resistance band around the top of your feet and flex toes as much as you can toward your face. Place your hands behind head, elbows pointing outward. Lift your legs, head, and shoulders as you bend right leg, rotating left shoulder toward right knee while pushing against the resistance band with the left foot. Switch sides, pressing out with right foot as you bring left knee and right shoulder together. That’s one rep. Continue alternating sides.

HORIZONTAL SCISSOR KICK

Lie faceup on floor with arms 90 degrees from torso, legs straight. Engage your abs and lift your legs a few inches off the floor. Keeping the rest of your body static, spread your feet out to your sides, then slowly bring them back to center without lowering them. To make the move easier, bring arms closer to your body or place hands flat, facedown, under your hips.

BIGGER IS BETTER

Strength/plyo circuit workouts like these challenge large and small muscle groups to the max, which means that you’ll reap a larger calorie burn during exercise and up to 48 hours afterward.



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