Unwanted weight gain during the holidays? The following high-intensity total body core routine is the perfect way to shed extra pounds and get into peak condition for spring sports. These four fast-paced compound sets will boost your metabolism to get rid of fat and promote muscle growth. Plus, the moves are sports-functional, incorporating elements for enhancing your strength, endurance, balance and flexibility. Bonus: they can conveniently be performed in the gym or at home—ideal when school is closed and you can't get to the weight room.
Compound Set One
- 10 Pull-Ups
- 10 Cable Chops (5 chops per side) at 80% RM
- 10 Bar Dips
- Repeat sequence, then take a 30-second water break
This muscle-building exercise combination targets the biceps, triceps, shoulders, chest, abdominals and lower, middle and upper back muscles. When performing at home, substitute a 20- or 30-pound medicine ball or a phone book for cable chops.
Compound Set Two
- 15 Single-Leg Dumbbell Squats (hold weights at shoulder level) at 70% RM Per Leg
- 15 Push-Ups
- 5 Single-Leg Dumbbell Bent-Over Rows (15 per side, resistance at 70% RM)
- Take 30-second water break then repeat sequence
This exercise combo improves balance and muscular endurance while strengthening the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, biceps, triceps, lower, middle and upper back, and abdominal muscles. When performing at home, use heavy books (e.g., phone books) for Single-Leg Squats (hold book overhead while squatting) and Bent-Over Rows.
Compound Set Three
- 5 Inchworms
- 5 Side Lunges with DB Twists (holding 20-pound dumbbell with arms extended at chest level)
- Run in place for 60 seconds
- Prone and Side Planks for 30 seconds each
- Repeat sequence
Inchworms are excellent for upper- and lower-body flexibility; Side lunges and Twists optimize core and leg strength; running in place aids endurance; and Prone and Side Planks are terrific core strengtheners, specifically for abdominal and lower back muscles.
Compound Set Four
- 10 Overhead Barbell Presses (80% RM)
- 10 Standing Cable Pull-Downs and Squats (80% RM)
- 15 Bench or Chair Step-Ups per Leg
- Rest 30 seconds, hydrate and finish with the cool-down upper/lower body static stretches
This combo focuses on upper- and lower-body hypertrophy (Overhead Barbell Presses, Standing Cable Pull-Downs and Squats) and muscular endurance (Step-Ups). At home, instead of Barbell Presses, do elevated Push-Ups (placing your feet on a chair); instead of Cable Pull-Downs and Squats, do doorknob Pull-Ups (grip your hands around doorknobs with your feet placed between the doorjamb); and instead of Step-Ups, do Burpees. Push-Ups, Pull-Ups, Standing Cable Pull-Downs/Squats, Step-Ups and Burpees all engage core muscles as well as strengthening upper- and lower-body muscles.
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