Strengthen and tone your core, shoulders, legs and arms with this partner exercise routine inspired by aerial training.

With this fun partner workout, your focus isn’t just about sets and reps. It’s also about stabilizing your core muscles, finding your balance, and trusting and communicating with your partner. Often, I find that I work harder when exercising with a partner compared to when I’m on my own. The right partner can keep you accountable and push you beyond what you thought you were capable of.

Taylor Rowland and I are both aerial performers, and we like our training well-rounded. We work out in the air, but we also like to do full-body bodyweight exercises on the ground. Taylor and I found that partnering up can make working out and performing a lot more entertaining.

Partner Exercise Tips

  • Share any injuries you may have with your partner.
  • Communicate with your partner about push/pull and weight transference before and during exercises.
  • Focus on form and staying controlled, engaging muscles instead of using momentum and seeing how fast you can go.

Pulling Squat

Do three sets AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) in one minute.

Grabbing wrist to wrist, partner 1 and partner 2 pull back against each other as they squat down. They squat down as low to the ground as possible. (That may be touching the ground or only going to a 90-degree squat.) Partner 1 and partner 2 work to find the right amount of pull to stabilize each other.

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Seven-Up

Do two sets of 10 reps per partner.

Partner 1 lies on the ground. Facing the opposite direction, partner 2 puts her hands on partner 1’s ankles and then gives one leg at a time to partner 1. Both partners keep their core and shoulders engaged. Partner 1 does a sit-up using her abs, keeping her arms locked out as she lifts partner 2’s legs above her head. Partner 2 keeps her arms locked out as she feels like she is pulling her legs to her chest, creating a backward 7.

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Squeezing Wheelbarrow

Do two sets of 10 reps each partner.

Partner 1 starts in a push-up position. Partner 2 stands in between partner 1’s ankles. Partner 1 lifts one leg at a time to partner 2. Partner 1 positions her legs right above partner 2’s hips. Partner 1 uses her inner-thigh adductor muscles to squeeze the waist of partner 2 while keeping her bellybutton pulled to her spine and entire body straight. Partner 2 performs a slow, controlled squat. For a greater challenge, at the bottom of the squat, partner 1 can do a push-up.

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Flopping Fish

Do three sets in one minute.

Partner 1 and partner 2 lie opposite one another hip to hip. They grab each other’s hands by reaching under their thighs. Partner 1 and partner 2 lift their legs toward the ceiling. They each use their abs to pull back their feet farther toward their head and lift their butt off the ground. They push down through their hands and rotate to the other side of each other. Slowly, partner 1 and partner 2 bring their legs back down to the ground, then repeat.

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Partner Scale

Do two sets of eight reps (each leg) for each partner.

Partner 1 and partner 2 grab each other’s forearms. Partner 1 starts with one leg back and leans forward as she lifts her leg toward the sky. Partner 1 squeezes her glute to lift her leg higher. Partner 2 helps stabilize partner 1 while dropping into a deep squat with her feet more than hip-width apart. In the squat, partner 2 keeps a flat back with her knees behind her toes. For more of a challenge, partner 2 can let partner 1 balance without her support. Partner 2 stops holding her and can choose how much support she wants to provide by holding onto partner 1 or loosening her grip.

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Plank Clap

Do three sets AMRAP in one minute. Try to beat the number the second and third time.

Partner 1 and partner 2 get into a plank position facing each other. They keep their core tight and pull their bellybutton toward their spine. They also keep their hips level as much as possible the entire time. Partner 1 and partner 2 lift their opposite arm, clap hands and then switch hands. To make this exercise more challenging, they keep their feet together in the plank position. To make easier, they keep their feet wide.

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Handstand Hold

Do two sets of 30-second holds — one minute total per partner.

Partner 1 kicks up into a handstand while partner 2 catches her feet and helps stabilize her. In the handstand, partner 1 should stack her shoulders over her wrists, her hips over her shoulders and her toes over her hips. This exercise also can be done against a wall.

Leah Gruber is a certified ACE personal trainer and group fitness instructor, aerialist and bikini competitor. She teaches aerial yoga (AntiGravity Fundaments certified), lyra and silks. She also does freelance aerial work and has performed all over the Las Vegas Strip at various venues, including the Bellagio, Venetian and Wynn Resorts, as well as the Las Vegas Convention Center. She formerly performed regularly at the Flamingo Hotel in the Margaritaville show.

Gruber’s partner Taylor Rowland does stunt and aerial work for the Universal theme park in Orlando, Florida. She is also an aerial instructor for Royal Caribbean Productions and travels and performs a signature doubles trapeze act.

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A prop as simple as a towel can take your circuit routine to the next level.

Now that I grabbed your attention with the title of this workout (I hope!), let’s get right to it. If you’re like me, you love routines that you can perform anywhere and won’t take you hours to complete. For that reason alone, you need to try this out. 

Are you ready to sweat your butt off, get your muscles shaking and test your own strength? All you need is a couple of towels and a smooth surface and you’re ready to go!

Perform the following exercises in a circuit to feel the burn and achieve a challenging workout! 

The Moves

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Here it is — the ultimate bodyweight workout — with nary a squat, lunge or plyometric in sight!

Seems like it should be easy — being able to move your body around in space — but anyone who has ever tried to do a dead-hang pull-up can attest to the fact that, no matter what you weigh, bodyweight exercises are among the hardest around. They are also some of the most adaptable, and you can create a kick-ass workout with only your personal collection of 37 trillion cells and some gumption.

Most bodyweight workouts contain some kind of lunge, squat or explosive plyometric movement. However, not everyone can (or wants to) perform these moves because of injury or mobility limitations. In fact, we get plenty of mail to this effect, asking for replacements or modifications, and we want you to know — you’ve been heard.

These 15 compound moves work for any level of fitness participant, are 100 percent non-impact and are as knee- and lumbar-friendly as possible. First, become proficient at the two Moves to Master, then when you’re ready, take aim at the Goal Move. Though these moves are grouped specifically into trios for this article, each move on its own is awesome, so mix and match the different variations according to your druthers. Need ideas? Check out the sample workout charts on Page 46.

Goal Move: Bear Squat

Moves to Master

Bear Balance (top), Bear Crawl (bottom)

Bear Balance 

Start: Get on all fours with your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. Turn your toes under and press down into the floor with your hands and toes to lift your knees off the ground so your shins are parallel with the floor. Your head should be neutral, core braced, back straight.

Action: Hold here as you lift one hand and your opposite foot off the floor an inch or two, then replace. Continue, alternating sides.

Bear Crawl

Start: Same as the bear balance.

Action: Now when you lift your hand and opposite foot, take a step forward, keeping your core engaged and your back straight. Also, try moving backward, laterally or in a circle, and go for distance, time or reps.

Bear Squat

Bear Squat

Start: Same as the bear balance.

Action: Bend your knees and lower your glutes to touch your heels. Then quickly explode up and forward, straightening your legs and lifting your hips toward the sky as you shift your weight over your hands. Lower to the start and go right back into the next rep.

Goal Move: Log Roll

Moves to Master

Hollow Body Hold (top), Superman Hold (bottom)

Hollow Body Hold

Lie faceup with your arms and legs extended. Press your lower back into the floor and brace your core, then lift your head, shoulders and legs off the floor several inches so your body makes a shallow crescent shape. Hold here for time.

Superman Hold

Lie facedown with your arms and legs extended. Simultaneously lift your arms and legs off the floor while keeping your head neutral and aligned with your spine. Hold here for time.

Log Roll

Log Roll

Assume a hollow body hold and hold for two counts. Keep your arms and legs lifted off the floor as you roll to the left and onto your stomach into a Superman hold. Pause for two counts, then roll once more to the left and back into the hollow body hold for two counts. Repeat the same sequence while rolling to the right to complete one rep. Alternate between beginning in hollow body and Superman.

Goal Move: Wall Marching Glute Bridge

Moves to Master

Wall Glute Bridge

Wall Glute Bridge

Start: Lie faceup and place your feet flat on a wall about hip-width apart with your knees and hips bent at 90-degree angles and your arms extended along your sides.

Action: Lift your hips until your body makes a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Squeeze your glutes, then lower back to the floor.

Wall Single-Leg Glute Bridge

Wall Single-Leg Glute Bridge

Start: Begin as with the wall glute bridge, but with just one foot on the wall and the other leg extended straight up over your hip.

Action: Press your hips up to align with your knees and shoulders, keeping your pelvis level. Lower to the start. Do all reps on one side before switching.

Wall Marching Glute Bridge

Wall Marching Glute Bridge

Start: Same as the wall glute bridge.

Action: Press your hips up into a bridge and hold here as you slowly bring one knee in toward your chest, then replace. Continue, alternating sides, without lowering to the
floor between reps.

Goal Move: Diving Eagle

Moves to Master

Wobbly Flamingo

Wobbly Flamingo

Start: Stand on one leg with your other knee bent and your foot next to your knee. Place your hands on your hips and find your balance.

Action: Imagine that your bent leg and hips are fused, so as you hinge forward, your leg moves rearward and upward. Return to the start. Do all reps on one side, then switch.

Tip: Make your standing knee soft; don’t lock it out.

Soaring Seagull

Soaring Seagull

Start: Same as the wobbly flamingo but with your arms extended to the sides.

Action: As you hinge at the hips, extend your leg rearward as you tip forward, getting your leg/torso as close to parallel as possible with the floor. Return slowly to the start. Do all reps on one side, then switch.

Diving Eagle

Start: Same as the soaring seagull.

Action: Hinge at your hips and tip forward as you extend your leg rearward, but simultaneously bend your standing knee and scoop your arms down and forward. As you extend your standing knee and hinge back to vertical, reach overhead and back out to the sides. Do all reps on one side, then switch.

Goal Move: Wall Sit With Alternating Arm/Leg Lift

Moves to Master

Standard Wall Sit

Standard Wall Sit

Stand in front of a wall with your feet hip-width apart. Lean back so your head, shoulders and glutes are in contact with the wall, then walk your feet forward about a foot. Slide down the wall until your hips are level with your knees and your knees and hips make 90-degree angles, and hold here for time.

Wall Sit With Leg Lift

Wall Sit With Leg Lift

Start: Same as the standard wall sit but extend your arms to the sides at shoulder height, palms facing rearward and pressed against the wall.

Action: Maintain your “seated” position as you extend one leg straight out from your hip parallel to the floor, and hold for two counts. Replace and continue, alternating sides.

Wall Sit With Alternating Arm/Leg Lift

Start: Same as the standard wall sit.

Action: As you extend one leg parallel to the floor, lift the opposite arm straight up overhead and press it firmly into the wall and hold. Replace arm/leg and continue, alternating sides slowly and deliberately.

Sample Workouts

Here are some ideas for grouping these moves into different workouts or blending them in with some of your other bodyweight favorites to customize your programming. 

10-Minute EMOM (every minute on the minute)

For each minute, do the prescribed moves and reps. Rest any remaining time. Begin at the top of the next minute.

Odd Minutes (1, 3, 5, etc.)

10 Wall Glute Bridges

10 Wall Marching Glute Bridges

Even Minutes (2, 4, 6, etc.)

Standard Wall Sit (30 seconds)

1 Log Roll (each direction)

Killer Ab and Core Circuit/Total-Body Chipper

Killer Ab and Core Circuit/Total-Body Chipper

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Work up a serious sweat using your own bodyweight with this do-anywhere series.

The holiday season presents plenty of obstacles to overcome — including inclement weather that may keep you stuck in the house or vacations that leave you with no gym access. Don’t let this stop you from staying fit.

Whether you’re stuck at home, at the airport, in a hotel room or laying poolside on a family getaway, you don’t need any equipment to accomplish a solid training session.

Here are nine exercises that when performed in a circuit, they create a challenging — and rewarding — 30- to 45-minute workout. Depending on your fitness level and goals, you can perform this workout in a superset style (back-to-back with little to no rest).

Glute Bridge

Glute Bridge

Start on the ground with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent with your arms at your sides. Push your hips up to the sky, keeping your core tight without arching your back and come back down to the ground. Extra credit: Squeeze and hold at the top for two seconds. Repeat 10 to 12 times.

Squat With a Hold

Squat With a Hold

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, your chest elevated and your core tight. Drop your hips down and back into a seated position. Hold five to 10 seconds and then return to the start position. Repeat 10 to 12 times.

Reverse Lunge With Knee-Up

Reverse Lunge With Knee-Up

Start with your feet together and bring one leg back into a lunge position. Maintain 90-degree angles with both legs. Keep your chest elevated. Then return to the starting position and bring that same-side knee up. Repeat on the same leg 10 to 12 times and then switch legs.

Push-Up With One Leg Extended

Push-Up With One Leg Extended

Start in a plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart. Center one foot and lift the other leg up, keeping it straight. Move into a push-up, bending at the elbows and coming down 90 degrees, keeping your core tight and your extended leg straight. Perform 10 to 12 times and then repeat holding the opposite leg up.

Triceps Dip

Triceps Dip

Sit in a chair or on the edge of a table with your hands on either side of your body. Slide your hips slightly off and away. Dip down, bending your elbows as far as comfortable, keeping your chest elevated, and then push back up to the starting position. Repeat 10 to 12 times.

Super Plank

Super Plank

Start in a plank position with your hands and feet shoulder-width apart. Bring your body down onto your elbows, still maintaining that tight core and plank position. Then push back up into a plank on your hands. Make sure to switch sides each time you come down and up from each plank position. Perform for 20 to 30 seconds.

Plank Jack

Plank Jack

Start in a plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart and feet together. Hop your feet out, keeping the plank position intact, and hop your feet back together. Perform for 20 to 30 seconds.

Mountain Climber

Mountain Climber

Start in a plank position with your hands and feet shoulder-width apart. Bring one knee up to your chest, then switch the other knee up to your chest, adding a hop in between. Perform for 20 to 30 seconds.

Flutter Kick

Flutter Kick

Lie on the ground with your legs straight. Bring one leg up at a time, alternating back and forth. Don’t bring your legs up too far. Keep them close to the ground. Make sure you don’t arch your back. Lift each leg 10 to 12 times. Alternatively, you can perform a 6-inch hold, holding your legs 6 inches off the ground for 20 seconds.

You can stay on track this winter season by using your best resource: your body. Practice this circuit first thing in the morning so you can avoid excuses and enjoy the rest of your day with family! Bonus: Get your loved ones involved to make it that much more fun!

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Use these all-time best bodyweight exercises to add muscle, burn fat and improve your conditioning — no iron necessary.

Barbells, dumbbells, cables and kettlebells are great, but technically speaking, they’re not necessary for sculpting a lean, strong physique. (Helpful? Yes. Imperative? No.) The phrase “I can’t get to the gym” is not a viable excuse for skipping a workout because some of the most challenging muscle- and strength-building moves known to womankind are bodyweight exercises.

There are endless moves you can do with your bod as equipment, so to boil it down to the best of the best, we asked a handful of our favorite trainers and strength coaches their opinions on the moves that reign supreme. Using their nominations, we devised this top 10 list — the ultimate collection of exercises to add muscle, increase strength, improve flexibility and beef up endurance. These moves are infinitely scalable, and for each, we offer both easier and harder variants to accommodate individuals of all fitness levels.

There is one thing these exercises don’t accommodate, however: excuses.

1. Burpee

Muscles Targeted: Full body

Coach’s Commentary:

“Burpees strengthen your whole body, help with coordination and stability, and can be used effectively for conditioning,” says Jenna Torres, CF-L1, head coach at CrossFit James Island in Charleston, South Carolina (crossfitjamesisland.com).

How-To: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, then crouch and place your hands flat on the floor in front of you. Jump your feet behind you into a push-up position, then do one push-up. Jump your feet back underneath you, then quickly extend your legs and hips to explode upward, reaching your hands overhead as you jump vertically off the ground as high as you can.

Make It Harder: See the “Combine & Conquer” sidebar for an advanced variation.

Make It Easier: Nix either the push-up or the jump (or both), depending on your level.

2. Air Squat

Muscles Targeted: Quads, glutes, hamstrings, core

Coach’s Commentary:

“Air squats build strength and power in the hamstrings, quads, hips and glutes while stabilizing the core,” Torres says.

How-To: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, legs turned slightly outward and arms extended in front of you at shoulder height. Kick your hips back and bend your knees to squat toward the floor, weight in
your heels, chest lifted, focus forward. Descend until your hips drop below your knees, then stand back to the start.

Make It Harder: Try pistol squats — the one-legged version of the air squat.

Make It Easier: Place a chair behind you and touch your glutes to the chair with each rep.

3. Bear Crawl

Muscles Targeted: Core, shoulders, quads, hip flexors

Coach’s Commentary:

“Bear crawls improve core and upper-body strength, scapular stability and overall shoulder health,” says Molly Galbraith, CSCS, owner of Girls Gone Strong (girlsgonestrong.com).

How-To: Get on all fours with your feet and hands both slightly wider than shoulder width. Pick your knees up a few inches off the floor while keeping your back straight and your head neutral. Crawl forward by taking small, controlled steps using the opposite hand and foot while keeping your butt down and your knees close to the floor. Crawl for total reps, distance or time.

Make It Harder: Take your crawls on the move laterally, in reverse or in patterns.

Make It Easier: Hold stationary, in the start position, for time (five to 30 seconds).

4. Forward Lunge

Muscles Targeted: Quads, glutes, hamstrings, inner/outer thigh

Coach’s Commentary:

“Working unilaterally with lunges is a great way to train similar muscles as squats without loading the spine,” says Julia Ladewski, CSCS, a sports-performance coach in Highland, Indiana (julialadewski.com). “You also get some added core and adductor/stability work by using one leg at a time.”

How-To: Stand tall in an open area with your feet together. Take a large step forward with one leg and bend both knees, dropping the back one toward the floor while keeping your front knee over your toes. When your front thigh comes parallel with the floor (or slightly beyond), push off the front heel and pull with the glute and hamstring of the back leg to return to standing. Continue, alternating legs.

Make It Harder: See the “Combine & Conquer” sidebar for an advanced variation.

Make It Easier: Do stationary lunges, in which your feet remain fixed in the staggered stance throughout.

5. Push-Up

Muscles Targeted: Chest, shoulders, triceps, core

Coach’s Commentary:

“Push-ups are not only a great muscle and strength builder for the upper body ‘push’ muscles, but they also develop core stability,” says Jim Smith, CPPS, owner of Diesel Strength & Conditioning (dieselsc.com).

How-To: Place your hands shoulder-width apart on the floor, then extend your legs behind you so your head, hips and heels are aligned, body rigid, head neutral. Keeping your elbows pointed backward (not out to the sides), bend your arms to lower your body toward the floor, maintaining a tight core. When your elbows break 90 degrees, press back up to the start.

Make It Harder: Elevate your feet on a bench, chair or step, hands on the floor (decline).

Make It Easier: Put your hands up on a bench, feet on the floor (incline).

6. TRX Row

Muscles Targeted: Upper back, rear delts, forearms, grip

Coach’s Commentary:

“Using a TRX for rows and inverted rows minimizes the stress on the wrists, elbows and shoulders that is often associated with fixed bar work,” Smith says. “A pull-up bar doesn’t allow for small adjustments as you perform the movement, thus causing inflammation and irritation due to common immobility issues like tight lats, internally rotated shoulders and a weak back.”

How-To: Grasp a set of TRX handles with your palms facing inward, arms extended. Walk your feet forward until your body is at about a 45-degree angle to the floor and your head, hips and heels are aligned. Keep your body rigid as you drive your elbows back and draw your shoulder blades together to pull your chest up to the handles. Pause briefly, then slowly lower to the start.

Make It Harder: Place your heels on a box so your body is horizontal, parallel with the floor.

Make It Easier: Walk your feet back under you so you’re more vertical.

7. Tuck Jump

Muscles Targeted: Glutes, quads, hamstrings, core

Coach’s Commentary:

“This dynamic movement helps strengthen the lower body while building explosive power and engaging the core,” Torres says.

How-To: Stand in an open area in an athletic “ready” position — feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, ready to explode. Quickly bend your knees and hips to load up your glutes and quads, then jump vertically as high as possible. While in the air, lift your knees to your chest in a tuck and then extend your legs and land softly, absorbing the impact. Collect yourself, then repeat.

Make It Harder: Add a lateral element — jumping a few feet to the side while tucking the knees up.

Make It Easier: Eliminate the knee tuck; do vertical jumps only.

8. Dead Bug

Muscles Targeted: Core, hip flexors

Coach’s Commentary:

“This deceptively challenging exercise targets the anterior core (abs) and can even out asymmetries from side to side,” Galbraith says.

How-To: Lie faceup with your knees and hips bent 90 degrees and your arms extended over your shoulders, perpendicular to the floor, palms facing inward. Press your lower back into the floor as hard as you can, then hold that position as you slowly extend one leg toward the floor, simultaneously lowering the opposite arm behind your head. Stop when your leg and arm are a few inches from touching down, then return to the start.

Make It Harder: Hold the extended position for longer time increments, or do all reps on one side before switching.

Make It Easier: Hold the start position for time (10 to 30 seconds), or eliminate the arms and only extend the legs one at a time

9. Dip

Muscles Targeted: Chest, shoulders, triceps

Coach’s Commentary:

“These develop overall upper-body strength and will improve your bench and overhead press,” Ladewski says.

How-To: Sit on the edge of a box or bench with your hands on either side of your hips, fingers forward. Extend your arms to lift your glutes up and forward, then bend your elbows, lowering until they break 90 degrees. Forcefully press back to the start.

Make It Harder: Lift one leg, or dip on parallel bars for a greater challenge.

Make It Easier: Bend your knees and use your legs to assist on the upward drive.

10. Single-Legged Romanian Deadlift

Muscles Targeted: Hamstrings, glutes, outer thigh, lower back, core

Coach’s Commentary:

“RDLs are a great strength builder, warm-up/activation exercise or a glute/ham tie-in move,” Ladewski says. “Factor in the unilateral element and your hamstrings really have to work hard.”

How-To: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, arms reaching toward the floor. Straighten one leg behind you so all your weight is in your standing leg, then hinge at the hips and lower your torso down as you raise your extended leg up at the same rate, keeping your back flat and your hips square. When your torso and leg come parallel with the floor, reverse the motion and return to the standing position. Do all reps on one side before switching.

Make It Harder: Hold a small weight in one hand.

Make It Easier: Keep your rear toes in contact with the floor instead of lifting your leg for more stability. 

Combine & Conquer

As we said, there are endless variations and combinations of bodyweight moves you can devise. Here are two kick-ass combos designed by Los Angeles–based celebrity fitness and wellness coach Leslie Maltz, NASM, (lesliemaltz.com) to maximize your work capacity and boost your burn.

Multi-Planar Lunge/Squat

Perform a forward lunge, then push off the front foot and immediately step behind you in a reverse lunge with that same foot. Push off again and come to standing as you do a kick to the front. Put your foot down and do an air squat to complete one rep. Continue, alternating sides.

Burpee Plus (Overhead Squat + Side-Plank Reach + Push-Up)

Reach your arms overhead and lower into an air squat. Stop at the bottom, place your hands on the floor and walk them out into a push-up position. Perform a push-up, then turn into a side plank, reaching your top arm toward the sky, shoulders and hips stacked. Return to the start, do another push-up, then repeat the side plank and reach to the opposite side. Return to the start, walk your hands back to your feet, sink your hips into the squat, reach your arms overhead and stand back up. Feeling badass? Add a jump.

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Attack your core and condition your entire body with this functional power circuit.

As fitness junkies, we know how crucial balance is to functional training, everyday movement and simply having more control over our body. This stability and control supports us in all our workouts and helps build core muscles while increasing cardio levels and conditioning.

For this workout, I’m bringing a balance trainer into the picture because it also can serve as a stepper and a bench, which offers you many options. In the event that you don’t have access to this equipment, you can still execute these moves on any type of elevated platform of your choice. Whatever your fitness goal, you can achieve it with this versatile routine. Let’s get started!

Perform the following exercises in a circuit to feel the burn and achieve a challenging workout.

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