If you think committing to working out means regular, hour-long slogs on cardio machines or marathon sessions in the weight room, quit playing that mind game. “The latest science proves that workouts that incorporate periods of high-intensity activity are the most efficient way to burn fat, strengthen your heart, and improve your work capacity,” says Brynn Putnam, personal trainer and owner of Refine in NYC. And by pushing your peaks, even in a short session, your body learns to function at a higher level. In other words, you’ll get fitter, stronger, and more adaptable for all kinds of activities, from running a race to dancing all night long.
To get the most out of your time, Putnam and her team selected four awesome total-body exercises, then put them together, circuit-style, into nine-, 12-, and 15-minute workouts. Before you launch into them, slip on a pair of light yet cushiony adidas UltraBOOST X sneakers, which are designed to adapt as you move for comfort and support, and practice the form of each move. That way, you won’t waste a moment futzing around trying to figure them out once the timer starts.
Ready to go? Excellent. Your best — and maybe shortest ever — workout starts now.
There’s so much good stuff going on here: lateral movement strengthens the hips, while the hop and change in direction provides a plyometric burst that raises your heart rate and challenges your stability. Start standing with your feet hip-width apart. Step your left leg out into a side lunge, sending your butt back and bending your right knee until it comes to a right angle; bring your hands together in a prayer position in front of your chest. Press off your left foot and hop through center, then lunge to the opposite side. Repeat without pausing.
This one works your arms and core while getting your heart pumping. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Squat down, placing your hands on the floor in front of you. Shift weight into your hands, and jump your feet back to a straight-arm plank. Squeezing your glutes and pulling in from your bellybutton to keep your hips and shoulders level, lift one hand, bending your elbow to bring it by your ribs in a rowing motion. Smoothly return your hand to the ground, and switch hands. Jump your feet back to your hands and stand to complete the rep.
Too tough? Try the inchworm version. The arm move is the same, but instead of jumping your feet back and forth, walk your hands away from your feet into the plank and then back toward your feet following the arm lifts.
Bottoms-Up Lunge To Single-Leg Deadlift
Strength meets balance in this challenging multipart move. Start by standing flat on your left foot with your right toes resting on the floor. Step the right foot back into a reverse lunge, both legs bending to 90 degrees. Press your weight into your left foot to come to stand. Without placing your right leg on the ground, hinge into a single-leg deadlift, extending your right leg behind you while tilting your upper body forward. Only hinge as low as you can while keeping your back leg and torso in the same plane — you don't want to collapse your chest and sacrifice form. Keep your standing leg slightly bent, using its strength to stand back up straight. If possible, keep your right foot off the ground and repeat the sequence. Be sure to do the same amount of work on each side; for the timed workouts below, switch sides halfway through the interval.
High-Knee Sprint In Place
When you are especially deliberate with form, running in place not only gets your heart pumping, but it strengthens, well, the whole body. With your shoulders upright and square, start lifting your knees so your thighs are parallel to the ground (or higher!), staying light and bouncy off your feet. Keep your core engaged to ensure your body remains vertical — you don’t want to lean back for the sake of raising your knees higher. Pump your arms to match your legs.
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