Want delts that stand out? These three moves hit your shoulders from all angles to build shapely deltoids.

The shoulders are made up of three deltoid muscles: the front, sides and back, and since these muscles are responsible for movement of the arms in three different directions, we have to use a variety of exercise if we want all-around balanced shoulder development. If you are doing lots of bench presses with barbells or dumbbells, you’re will be getting plenty of frontal deltoid action.

The frequently ignored area of the shoulder is the rear deltoid. But when this is fully developed, it improves your posture and enhances the overall shoulder region.

It could be argued that the most important delt head is the side (lateral) area. When this is developed, it increases shoulder width, adding to that impressive “V” shape.

This workout hits all three muscles, giving you those gorgeous, sexy shoulders.

What to Do

If you’re serious about building stunning delts, train your shoulders at least twice a week with a day’s rest between workouts.

Beginners: Start with light weights and do three sets of 10 to 12 reps.

Intermediates: Increase your weight and aim for three sets of eight to 10 reps. 

Advanced: To add mass, lift for three sets of five to six reps, using heavy weights.

Upright Row

(front and side shoulders)

Start: Stand erect holding two dumbbells.

Move: Raise the weights as high as possible, keeping the elbows up. Lower and repeat.

Tip: Make sure you start each rep from a completely straight-arm position.

Incline Dumbbell Flye

(rear shoulders)

Start: Set the incline on the bench at approximately 25 degrees and lie facedown on the bench.

Move: Raise the dumbbells out to the sides. Lower and repeat.

Tip: Keep arms slightly unlocked at you raise them up.

Seated Barbell Press

(side and front shoulders)

Start: Sit comfortably at the end of a flat bench, holding a loaded barbell in front of you at shoulder height.

Move: Press the barbell up to arms’ length. Lower and repeat.

Tip: Do not lean excessively back during the pressing movement.

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Integrate these moves into your program to improve flexibility and protect your shoulders from all angles.

The shoulder is a tricky joint because it moves in multiple directions as well as in rotation. Ensuring the joint is mobile both before and after training is key to executing solid lifts and preventing injury. Integrate these moves into your program to improve flexibility and protect your shoulders from all angles.

Preworkout

Arm Circles


Do 10 large arm circles to the front and 10 to the back with each arm. Repeat twice.

Huggies


Swing your arms open and closed at shoulder height, giving yourself a hug. Change the top arm for each rep. Do 20 reps.

Slow Plate Opener


Lie on your side and hold a 2.5-pound weight plate with your fingers through the hole, arm extended along the floor straight out from your shoulder, palm down. Keeping your arm straight, lift and open it to the side and behind you as far as you can go without twisting and pause. Then lift your hand toward your head and pause. Reverse steps to return to the start. Do eight on each arm.

Preworkout and Postworkout


Banded Shoulder Distraction 


Attach a superband to a pull-up bar and loop one hand through the end. Lunge back with the same-side leg with your arm extended and let the band pull it gently up and away. Relax your shoulder and lat as you slowly rotate your palm upward and then downward while keeping your arm extended.

Preworkout: Do 30 seconds on each side.

Postworkout: Do 60 to 90 seconds on each side.

Distracted Twist

Stand up from your shoulder distraction, then turn away from the band anchor toward your working arm so the arm is pulled across your body. Hold and twist toward and away gently, stretching the back side of the joint.

Preworkout: Do 30 seconds on each side.

Postworkout: Do 60 to 90 seconds on each side.

Standing Lacrosse-Ball Roll

Stand in a doorway (or facing the leg of a squat rack). Place the lacrosse ball between the wall and the area where your front delt and pecs meet and lean forward slightly. Roll around until you find an area that is tight, then hold and raise and lower your arm slowly.

Preworkout: Do no more than two minutes per side.

Postworkout: Do two to three minutes, depending on tightness.

Lying Lacrosse-Ball Roll

Lie faceup and place a lacrosse ball between one trap and the floor. Roll up and down, back and forth, pausing when you find tight areas. Move the ball to the area between your shoulder blade and your spine and repeat this process. Do both sides.

Preworkout: Do no more than two minutes per side.

Postworkout: Do two to five minutes, depending on tightness.

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These demanding exercises hit all your major muscle groups, training them to work in concert — improving performance in the gym or on the field.

We get it. Ranking the “world’s best functional exercises” is an exercise in futility. Because really, what makes a thruster better than a jump squat or a handstand push-up? The actual rankings aren’t really the point. Our aim is to give you 10 incredible, valuable, time-tested moves to choose from that will improve your movement patterns, body awareness and total-body power. Debate the order if you want, but implementing the moves on this list into your programming will get you fitter, faster.

Farmer’s Walk

10. Farmer’s Walk

Hits: Grip strength, shoulders, quads, hams, calves

This is as basic as it gets, testing just how long you can lug heavy, awkward objects around without dropping them. This sort of long-winded grip strength comes in handy for chipper-style deadlift workouts or unrelenting reps of pull-ups — as well as for unloading all your grocery bags in one trip.

To Do: Pick up a heavy dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand and draw your shoulder blades down and back to stabilize your shoulders. Keeping your core tight, chest elevated and head up, walk forward with even, steady steps for time or distance.

Expert Tips: “When learning the farmer’s walk, use quick, short steps,” says Los Angeles–based trainer Teri Jory, creator of the Poise method. “As you get comfortable, you can move faster and lengthen your steps, leading with your hips.”

Wall Handstand Push-Up

9. Wall Handstand Push-Up

Hits: Shoulders, triceps, traps, core

Sure, it’s fun to show off by doing a free-standing handstand push-up, but if you don’t have a gymnastic bent, a handstand push-up done against a wall is just as effective, developing shoulder and triceps strength while also calling on upper-body and core stabilizers to help you maintain balance.

To Do: Place your hands about a foot away from a wall spaced shoulder-width apart on the floor. Kick up one foot at a time into a handstand position, or have a partner help you get there, and hold here with your heels touching the wall, body straight, feet together. Look straight ahead (not down at the floor) and slowly, under full control, bend both elbows to lower yourself as far you can without letting your head touch down. Keep your core tight as you press back up to the start.

Expert Tips: “Before going for a push-up, practice holding a handstand against the wall for 10 to 20 seconds for three to six sets,” suggests former IFBB Fitness pro Carla Sanchez, owner of Performance Ready Fitness Studio in Lone Tree, Colorado. Do this for several weeks until you’re comfortable upside down, then go for the push-up.

Pull-Up

8. Pull-Up

Hits: Lats, upper back, middle back, biceps

Being able to hoist your bodyweight up to a bar is an essential component of everyday strength, and a functional, powerful body begins with a back primed with pull-up training.

To Do: Take a wide overhand grip on a pull-up bar and hang freely with your arms fully extended and your ankles crossed behind you. Draw your shoulder blades in toward one another, then drive your elbows down and back, pulling your body upward until your chin crosses above the bar. Hold momentarily, then lower slowly back to the start.

Expert Tips: “The pull-up is challenging, but you can make it even more so as you get stronger by using ankle weights, varying your timing or adding in knee tucks,” says Samantha Clayton, personal trainer, former Olympic runner, and vice president of worldwide sports performance and fitness at Herbalife Nutrition. 

Woman Maker

7. Woman Maker

Hits: Quads, hamstrings, glutes, lats, upper back, middle back, chest, shoulders

This move is a clever combination of several functional movements (burpee, renegade row, push-up, squat clean and overhead press), which add up to a challenging, rut- (and gut-) busting exercise.

To Do: Hold a pair of dumbbells at your sides, then crouch and place them parallel on the floor in front of you. Keep your hands on the dumbbells as you jump your feet behind you into plank, then do a push-up. Hold at the top and do a one-arm row on each side, elbows in close to your body. Do another push-up, then jump your feet back underneath you. As you stand, pull the dumbbells up along the front of your body, shrugging as you reach full extension and flipping your elbows underneath to bring them to shoulder level. Drop into a full squat, then explode upward, pressing the weights overhead as you come to standing.

Expert Tips: “This exercise requires a good connection to your core and gluteal muscles,” explains Patricia Friberg, creator of the Bottom Line & A Core Defined and Belly Beautiful Workout DVDs. “Do some glute activation exercises in your warm-up, such as squats with a resistance loop above the knee, to prepare for this move.”

Sled Pull/Push

6. Sled Pull/Push

Hits: Glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves, middle back, lats, chest, shoulders, triceps, biceps

Pushing and pulling are innate human movements, and as such recruit pretty much every muscle in your body. This combo using a loaded sled gets you both coming and going.

To Do: Attach a rope securely to one end of a loaded sled. Extend the rope along the floor and face the sled with your feet shoulder-width apart. Grasp the rope with both hands and bend your knees and lean away from the sled to pull the rope taut, back straight. Pull the sled toward you, hand over hand, until it reaches your feet. Then place your hands on the uprights and push the sled back to the start — hips low, elbows bent — taking strong, steady steps.

Expert Tips: “This is high-intensity training without the high impact,” Sanchez says. “Load the sled with heavy weight to build strength and power, or use lighter weight and move with more velocity for conditioning benefits.”

One-Arm Kettlebell Snatch

5. One-Arm Kettlebell Snatch

Hits: Back, shoulders, traps, glutes, quads, hamstrings

When doing bilateral (two-limbed) exercises, the stronger, more dominant arm or leg often takes on an unequal amount of the load, creating imbalances. A functional, unilateral exercise like this kettlebell snatch can serve as a remedy for those deficiencies.

To Do: Stand behind a kettlebell with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your chest lifted as you push your glutes back and bend your knees to grasp the handle with one hand, extending the other arm to the side. In one smooth motion, stand up quickly to pull the kettlebell off the floor, bringing it straight up along the front of your body. As the weight comes above your shoulder and feels almost weightless, punch your arm up toward the ceiling and allow the kettlebell to roll softly to the backside of your wrist. Finish with your arm extended straight up over your shoulder, palm forward. Reverse the sequence to bring the kettlebell back to the floor. Do all reps on one side before switching.

Expert Tips: “Before attempting this with a challenging weight, it’s important that your movement fundamentals are sound and you have good shoulder stability,” says Patrea Aeschliman, CSCS, Power Pilates instructor. “If you can, have a kettlebell-certified trainer help when doing it for the first time.”

Crab Reach (Thoracic Bridge)

4. Crab Reach (Thoracic Bridge)

Hits: Back, shoulders, chest, glutes, hips, core

The crab reach is the antidote for prolonged bouts of sitting, stretching and strengthening key areas, including your shoulders, hips, lower back and abdominal region.

To Do: Sit on the floor with your knees bent, and place your hands behind you with your fingers pointing backward. Press down into your hands and feet to lift your glutes off the floor, then continue lifting your hips as high as you can. Reach your left hand overhead toward the floor and turn your head to look at your right hand. Pause, then return to the start. Continue, alternating sides.

Expert Tips: “Start with your palms far enough from your feet so that you do not over-flex your wrist when you press up,” says Missy Reder, personal trainer, yoga instructor and creator of the AB-EZE core training tool. “Plus, the added space will allow you to get your hips even higher.”

Jump Squat

3. Jump Squat

Hits: Quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves, shoulders

This simple bodyweight exercise combines the best overall resistance exercise (squats) with a plyometric component, training the fast-twitch muscle fibers in your lower body to fire as they propel you into the air and contract to decelerate you on the return.

To Do: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and quickly lower into a squat, kicking your hips back and bending your knees to load up your posterior chain while swinging your arms in front of you. Extend your knees and hips and explode into the air, reaching your arms back to generate height. Land softly and descend immediately into the next squat.

Expert Tips: “Always land with your knees slightly bent and aligned with your hips and ankles,” Sanchez advises. “If you add weight in the form of dumbbells, a weighted vest or a barbell, use no more than 10 percent of your maximum regular back-squat load.”

Turkish Get-Up

2. Turkish Get-Up

Hits: Quads, hamstrings, glutes, lats, middle back, traps, shoulders, chest, core

This multi-part movement brings you from a lying to a standing position, all while holding a kettlebell perpendicular to the floor and engaging all your major muscle groups along the way.

To Do: Lie faceup with your legs extended and hold a kettlebell straight up over your left shoulder, elbow locked. Extend your right arm to the side and look up at the weight. Bend your left knee and place your foot on the floor close to your glutes, then use your right hand and left foot as support as you roll toward your right side. Bridge your hips and bend your right knee, sliding it underneath you and rising into a half-kneeling position. From here, stand up. To return to the start, reverse the steps until you are flat on the floor. Continue, alternating sides.

Expert Tips: “Keep your eyes focused on the weight throughout the entire movement, and take your time,” says Ilyse Baker, Los Angeles–based trainer and creator of Dancinerate. “Concentrate on each segment of the exercise without rushing and you’ll master it much more quickly.”

Dumbbell Thruster

1. Dumbbell Thruster

Hits: Quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, shoulders, triceps, core

Dynamic and explosive, the thruster engages your entire body from your legs to your delts as you work synergistically and fluidly to move a load while transitioning from a squat to an overhead press. You can use any implement you like — barbell, dumbbells, kettlebells — but any way you slice it, a thruster will spike your heart rate in seconds.

To Do: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a set of dumbbells at your shoulders, palms neutral. Bend your knees and drop your hips into a deep squat, bottoming out if possible, then keep your weight in your heels as you drive forcefully upward. As you come to standing, use that upward momentum to press the dumbbells overhead. Lower the weights to your shoulders and repeat.

Expert Tips: “This exercise needs to be done in one fluid movement,” says trainer Jennie Gall, owner of boutique Pilates studio Relevé in Ripon, California. “Also, it’s common to hold your breath, but you need it for power in this exercise. Inhale as you squat and exhale at the top.”

FUNCTIONAL FORTITUDE

Wondering what to do with these movements? All of them can (and should) be peppered into your usual routine, but if you want some ideas for dedicated functional workouts, here are two samples to try.

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Refuse to let excuses sideline you or keep you from your fitness and health goals.

Over the years, my “no excuses, just results” approach to fitness has helped me earn some seriously consistent results. But have I always abided by this mantra? To be perfectly honest, no, but once I adopted this mindset, all aspects of my health and fitness started to evolve.

If you find yourself making excuses as to why you haven’t been working on your fitness lately, stop for a second and be honest with yourself about these excuses. Take a look at your habits and your actions, and identify what obstacles continue to pop up that have prevented you from your goals. Is there a common theme?

If you’re nodding along to any of the above, trust me, you’re not alone. I’ve had my own fair share of ups and downs (along with plenty of excuses) throughout my fitness journey. Whether I was in college, working two jobs, when I was more than 35 percent body fat (I was full of excuses back then!), working in corporate America or now working in the fitness industry, I had come up with several excuses along the way to rationalize skipping workouts or healthy eats.

So how did I change my approach? I now refuse to let excuses sideline me or keep me from my goals. With a simple mindset shift, I now take what would formerly be known as an excuse and look for opportunity to improve. Every bit of effort counts and truly adds up to big-time results. The results are just a few workouts away, so ditch those excuses and get to work!   

Here are some of my (formerly) most common excuses and how I ditched them for good.

Whoops! I ran out of time before work this morning and didn’t get to pack my gym bag.

We’ve all been there before — your alarm goes off, you hit snooze, and before you know it, you’re scrambling around to get to work on time. The night before, you’d had the best of intentions on heading to the gym directly from work that next day, but without your gym bag packed, you’ll have to head home first before the gym. Uh oh.

We all know what can happen once we get home from work: distraction city. The point is, you’re now home and are probably coming up with several excuses as to why you’ll “hit the gym tomorrow instead,” right?

How I got rid of this excuse:

This excuse used to be my most common, and after missing out on more workouts than I care to count, I knew I had to make some changes.

Turns out, all it took was a few minutes of preparation the night before. Instead of waiting until the morning (when I knew chances of my hitting snooze or running late for a variety of reasons was likely) to pack my gym bag and workout essentials, I took a few minutes the night before and got everything ready. I even started putting my gym bag in my trunk the night before so I wouldn’t worry about leaving it behind if I was in a rush the next morning.

This small change helped add up to some seriously consistent workouts. So simple, right? If you’re a morning workout gal, this same approach will help keep you on track for those pre-dawn workouts. Pack your bag the night before with everything you’ll need in the morning for the gym and what you’ll need to get ready for work at the gym after your workout. I swear this small change made a huge impact on my consistency!

Adopt an all-or-nothing approach to nutrition.

“Does the diet start Monday” sound familiar to you? I know I’ve said those words more times than I care to count.

I used to start out each week intent on staying “on track” with my healthy meals, convinced that I would stick to this stricter regimen. At some point during the week/end if I strayed from the plan, I’d simply brush it off and then proceed to eat whatever I wanted until the next Monday morning rolled around.

Silly, I know, but this is an excuse I used to make and still hear from others far too often.

How I got rid of this excuse:

Once I realized I wasn’t being realistic to my lifestyle, I embraced a more balanced approach. If I grab a burger or dessert, I now pick up with my regularly scheduled healthy options at the very next meal, not the next day or the next Monday that rolls around. Life happens, and sometimes you’re going to have a slice of pizza even if it’s not listed on the plan your trainer created for you. Just don’t let one meal lead to a slippery slope of a series of poor nutritional choices. This is another prime example of how consistency truly is key and that it’s what we do the majority of the time that adds up to results.

Who has time for meal prep and cooking so much food? Ugh, healthy eating can be so time-consuming!

For those who get their Sunday meal prep on and have everything prepared and lined up in Tupperware for the week ahead, I commend you for your organization, cooking skills and efforts. However, if meal prepping your entire week out ahead of time isn’t in the cards for you, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have some healthy options prepared and ready to go.

How I got rid of this excuse:

I didn’t turn into a culinary wizard overnight, but I did get realistic about what I eat the majority of the time, what I’m likely to grab when I am on the go (healthy options are everywhere these days!), and what I can whip up in the kitchen in the least amount of time. Instead of cooking every meal, I started by having one to two protein options already cooked and ready to go.

Most often, this was chicken breast and some sort of frittata or egg-white muffins that I could easily prepare ahead of time and last me several days. I started to make one protein smoothie a day (it’s one of my favorites of the day and literally takes one minute to prepare) because I could blend that and take it with me on the go (a scoop of Cellucor Whey, a banana, some ice, tablespoon of almond butter, light almond milk and blend!) for a healthy, simple option.

Keeping snacks on hand to eat such as almonds, cashews, Greek yogurt (I’ll mix some berries in with my plain Greek yogurt and top with some diced almonds for an easy meal option) helps save time and ensures that I’ll always have something healthy on hand. I love salads but hate wasting veggies, so to help with prep time, I will chop up whatever veggies I want for salads or stir-fry for the next few days (think broccoli, bell peppers, cucumbers, mushrooms, etc.) and store them (separately from one another) in a sealed container or baggie so that they are chopped and ready to go when it’s mealtime.

These quick fixes for meal prep have helped establish a whole new level of consistency to my healthy eating.

My time at the gym is having a serious effect on my social life!

Feel like you’re spending more time with the weights than out with your friends, a date or social events these days? People begin to hold a grudge against their workouts because they “no longer have a life” outside the gym. As soon as I realized I was annoyed by my workouts cutting into my social life, I knew I had to make some changes.

How I got rid of this excuse:

I started to involve some of my friends in my fitness. One of my favorite ways to combine catching up with a friend and working on my fitness is to grab a friend and head outdoors for some workout fun and chat. Whether you’re just taking a power walk around the neighborhood, going on a bike ride, hiking or working out at a nearby park, this is a great way to combine a workout while spending time with a loved one.

Another thing I love to do is coordinate social events with rest days (we all take them, may as well maximize them!) so I’ll have something fun to look forward to for the weekend. This helps keep a good balance of fitness, fun and weekend events.

Such a simple, fun solution!

I’m so busy, I just don’t have any time to work out for hours every day!

Ahh, the “I don’t have time for the gym every day” excuse. I’ve been there and know countless others who have, too. I’ve even had people message me asking that if they only have 20 minutes a day to work out, is it even worth it or are they just wasting their time? Of course it is worth it! You don’t need hours a day to log results. Every bit of effort you put forth adds up!

How I got rid of this excuse:

Instead of complaining about not being able to work out as long as I’d typically like to, I flip my approach and get excited about the opportunity to change things up and do something new.

Even five minutes of your time spent on a workout is better than nothing; it’s all about getting started and making your health and fitness a priority. The next week, set aside 10 and then go from there. Once you start the habit and feel the positive effects of squeezing in workouts whenever your schedule allows, you’ll be hooked.

Schedules change last minute, things pop up, sometimes you have to cut the workout short or only have 15 minutes to get it done. If I’m left with 15 minutes for a workout, instead of skipping out altogether, I make every bit count and I’ll do a home workout instead. Bodyweight exercises mixed in with cardio bursts have proven to be a ton of fun for me while also earning serious results. Check out the combo below for a fun fat blast that you can do anywhere in 15 minutes or less!

Here’s one of my favorite “no excuses, just results” workouts that can be done anywhere — no equipment needed!

Grab a timer and enough open space to perform a burpee, then get ready to work. This workout is designed to challenge you while maximizing your efforts. Set the timer for 15 minutes, and challenge yourself to perform as many rounds as possible in the 15 minutes.

Perform one set of each exercise back-to-back for 30 seconds. Once you’ve completed one full round of the sweaty circuit below, rest briefly (one minute max), and then repeat the circuit for another three to five rounds (or as many as you can squeeze in for 15 minutes).

  • Burpees
  • Jump Squats
  • Push-Ups With Side-Plank Rotation (alternating sides throughout)
  • Tabletop Hip Thrusters
  • Plank Jacks
  • Side-to-Side Squats (squat to right, back to middle, squat to left, repeat)
  • Side Forearm Plank With Dip (15 seconds each side)

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Banish winter fat and get bikini-ready with this hard-HIITing four-week cardio and training plan.

Not so long ago, “getting ready for summer” meant one thing — total boredom. In other words, those monotonous, long-winded 40- to 60-minute cardio sessions plodding along on a treadmill or pedaling away on a stationary bike to nowhere, in the hopes of eventually burning enough calories to squeeze into your warm-weather wardrobe.

Thankfully, science has found a better way. It’s called high-intensity interval training and is essentially a method to incinerate more body fat in a shorter period of time. Combined with another innovative HIIT technique called Tabata intervals, you’ll have a one-two punch to transform your body in as little as four weeks

.

Scientifically Shredded

In order to burn as much body fat as possible, you need to perform workouts with a high metabolic cost — intense exercise that stimulates all the major muscle groups. These kinds of workouts mobilize lipase, an enzyme that releases fatty acids from adipose tissue (that would be your muffin top). These acids move into the bloodstream and then to the mitochondria to be burned for energy.

HIIT is by far the best way to boost workout density — the total amount of work you can cram into a certain time frame — and incite this catalytic chemistry needed to burn fat. With this cardio style, you alternate short periods of near-maximal intensity output with a recovery-level pace in a repeating pattern. As a simple example, if you were outdoors running, you could do a 20-second sprint followed by a 40-second jog, or a 20:40 interval. The active phase can be shorter or longer based on your personal fitness level, and the rest period should be as long as necessary for you to be able to give 100 percent effort on the next sprint. A novice athlete may want to start with 10 seconds of harder activity coupled with 50 seconds at the slower pace and work toward a more intermediate and advanced level of 30:30 or even 60:60, always keeping in mind you shouldn’t lock yourself into a rest period that’s too short for you to fully recover.

Research has shown again and again that HIIT burns fat and spares muscle. One oft-cited overview of research compiled in the Journal of Obesity concluded that regular bouts of HIIT produce significant increases in aerobic and anaerobic fitness while also lowering insulin resistance and inciting a number of muscle adaptations that result in enhanced fat oxidation and improved glucose tolerance. Other research has focused on HIIT’s ability to reduce subcutaneous and abdominal fat.

The Summer Strong-and-Shred Program

In a typical training schedule, you’d likely perform one or two HIIT sessions per week, leaving at least 48 hours in between those bouts to recover. For the purpose of this plan, you’re going to push it a little, crafting a four-week overreaching program, which forces your metabolism to adapt to higher demands.

Each week, you’ll consolidate your strength-training workouts into three days of full-body training and will add in three HIIT workouts and one Tabata session. Whether you follow our sample workout week or build your own schedule, just know that when a HIIT or Tabata session falls on the same day as weights, do the weights first so you can be at your strongest for lifting. Schedule one to two days of complete rest for optimal recovery (drop a full-body weight-training day if your recovery is lagging), and always perform some mobility and flexibility activities before and after your workouts.

One thing to note: This is an overreaching program and is designed to optimize fat loss while maintaining and building muscle. However, because of its intensity, return to your normal schedule after four weeks — six weeks max — to prevent injury and overtraining.

HIIT Workouts

These three HIIT programs use a variety of equipment, including a rower and a treadmill, and were designed by Erin Stern, two-time Figure Olympia champion, Oxygen Challenge coach, Dymatize athlete and author of The Bodybuilder’s Kitchen: 100 Muscle-Building, Fat-Burning Recipes, With Meal Plans to Chisel Your Physique (Alpha, 2018).

HIIT A: Bike Blast

Adjust an Airdyne or Assault bike to fit your frame and warm up with three to five minutes of moderate cycling. Then perform the sprints as directed, counting the calories burned versus a specific time period per sprint. Afterward, cool down similarly with three to five minutes of slow pedaling.

The Workout

Week 1: Do 10 sprints of 10 calories each at 90 percent intensity.

Rest at least 60 seconds between sprints.

Week 2: Do six sprints of 30 calories each at 80 percent intensity.

Rest at least 90 seconds between sprints.

Week 3: Do eight sprints of 20 calories each at 90 percent intensity.

Rest at least 75 seconds between sprints.

Week 4: Do eight sprints of 25 calories each at 100 percent intensity.

Rest at least 75 seconds between sprints.

HIIT B: Treadmill Hill Sprints

This plan starts with five minutes at an easy walking or jogging pace with the treadmill set a 3 to 5 percent incline to warm up and prep for the upcoming sprints. Next, set the incline to 10 percent and choose a speed halfway between your warm-up and sprint pace. “A good one is usually between 7 and 8 miles per hour,” Stern suggests. “Stride for 30 seconds at that pace. If you’re really winded after that, you’re very close to your sprint pace. If the stride was easy, increase the speed.” Here’s a four-week program starting at a 7-mph pace:

The Workout

Week 1: Do six 20-second sprints at 10 percent incline and a speed of 7 mph.

Week 2: Do six 20-second sprints at 10 percent incline and a speed of 8 mph.

Week 3: Do six 20-second sprints at 10 percent incline and a speed of 9 mph.

Week 4: Do six 20-second sprints at 10 percent incline and a speed of 10 mph.

Instructions

“Start each sprint with the treadmill set to a 10 percent incline at a 3- to 4-miles-per-hour walking pace,” Stern explains. “Increase the belt speed to your sprint pace and perform the sprint. At the 20-second mark, grab the rails and step off onto the sides of the treadmill before adjusting the controls back down to 3 to 4 miles per hour. Walk for three to four minutes before the next sprint.” As for rest, take as long as you need to be able to go all-out during the next sprint. To cool down, walk 10 minutes and finish with full-body stretching.

HIIT C: Rower Ladder

To begin, warm up with five minutes of easy rowing. “Focus on getting loose and gradually elevating your heart rate,” Stern says. Next, set the rower damper to 5 and row at a 50 percent effort for 30 to 50 seconds. “Keep an eye on your strokes per minute, as this will help you gauge where you need to be for the full sprints,” she instructs. “If you’re very winded, you’re very close to your sprint pace, but if the effort was easy, increase your strokes per minute during the workout.” Here’s a four-week program starting at a damper level of 6 and nudging that up by one notch each week:

The Workout

Week 1: 500-Meter Sprint

Rest three to four minutes.

Week 2: 400-Meter Sprint

Rest three to four minutes.

Week 3: 300-Meter Sprint

Rest three to four minutes.

Week 4: 200-Meter Sprint

Rest three to four minutes.

Instructions

“During the rest periods, you won’t be rowing; stand up and slowly pace around as you recover,” Stern says. “After completing all sprints, walk, bike or row for 10 minutes at a comfortable pace to cool down, then stretch for 10 minutes.”

TABATA Training

A Tabata is one of the simplest and most effective ways to increase your workout density: You do 20 seconds of all-out work and take 10 seconds of rest for eight rounds, or a total of four minutes. A single four-minute Tabata can torch some of your fat cache, but to get summer-shredded, you need a little extra oomph.

These workouts stack three separate Tabatas to push the limits of your fat burning to the edge. Do them on days when you’re not strength training because they are intense and will gobble up all your energy — and then some. Choose a moderate weight (12 to 16 kilograms) for your kettlebell swings and goblet squats, and for the farmer’s carry, aim for 50 percent of your bodyweight.

One thing to note: In order for a Tabata to be effective, you have to go all-out — literally giving 100 percent of all your energy possible during each 20-second work interval. Push yourself and you will be rewarded with that perfect bikini body!

TABATA A: Battle-the-Fat Tabata Stack

Cool down with 10 minutes of steady-state cardio at an easy pace, followed by 10 minutes of stretching.

TABATA B: Swing Time

Cool down with 10 minutes of steady-state cardio at an easy pace, followed by 10 minutes of stretching.

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All you need is a single weight plate and a little real estate to do this barn-burning workout.

There is wisdom in the proverbial saying, “Don’t use a lot when a little will do.” Herein lies the beauty of this workout, which uses one weight plate and two simple circuits to deliver maximum results in just 12 minutes. Use this plan when you’re short on time and/or equipment, or add it onto any strength or cardio workout as a total-body finisher.

The Workouts

These workouts are programmed in EMOM format — every minute on the minute — but with a twist: Rather than having one minute to complete the task, you’ll have two. Here’s how it should look:

At the start of minute one, you’ll complete all the overhead sumo squats and overhead walking lunges in EMOM 1. Then you’ll do the plate push for the remainder of that two minutes, aiming to accumulate as much distance as you can. Without resting, you’ll start again at the top of minute three, repeating that workout two more times for a total of three rounds and six minutes. Then you’ll move on to EMOM 2 and will complete three rounds there similarly. Add your plate-push distance for all six rounds for your score. Try to meet or beat it next time you do the workout.

Overhead Sumo Squat

Hold the plate by the sides and fully extend your arms overhead, elbows by your ears. Position your feet outside shoulder width and turn your legs out from your hips. Actively press up against the plate as you bend your knees and drop your glutes straight down, tracking your knees over your toes until your thighs come parallel to the floor, back straight. Stand back up to the start and squeeze your glutes at the top.

Overhead Walking Lunge

Hold a plate on the sides and extend your arms overhead, and stand with your feet hip-width apart and your core braced to prevent your rib cage from flaring. Actively press upward on the plate to hold it steady overhead as you step forward and bend both knees, lunging deeply until your rear knee lightly touches or almost touches the ground. Push off your back foot and bring your feet together underneath you. Continue, alternating legs.

Worm to Push-Up

Get into plank with your toes on a plate and your head, hips and heels aligned. Keeping your core tight, bend your elbows and do a push-up, then lift your hips up into a pike, using your toes to drag the plate underneath you and as close to your hands as possible. Walk your hands back out into plank and repeat.

Note: Use a lighter/smaller plate to begin, and as you improve, increase the size.

Lateral Plate Hop

Stand to one side of a plate with your feet hip-width apart. Kick your hips back and bend your knees into a shallow squat to load your glutes and hamstrings, then quickly extend your knees and hips and leap laterally over the plate with both feet, landing lightly on the other side. Go right into the next rep and continue, alternating sides.

Plate Push

Place a heavy iron weight plate flat on the floor and hold it by the closest edge in front of your toes, fingers on top. Drop your hips and knees so your shins are about parallel with the floor while keeping your core braced and your back and arms straight. Pack your shoulder blades, then drive through your toes, taking quick, short strides to push the plate forward as quickly as possible, going for max distance.

Note: An iron plate will slide best on most surfaces, as compared to a rubber-coated one or a bumper plate.

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Trampoline workouts are low-impact, fun, fat burning and functional. Here’s how this kind of workout can accelerate your results by leaps and bounds.

If you’re like most people, the last time you jumped on a trampoline was in grade school. But believe it or not, rebounding — the “technical” name for trampolining — has a host of benefits.

“Rebounding helps improve balance, coordination and proprioception,” says Fayth Caruso, ACE-CPT, instructor trainer for Pilates Academy International and education director for Bellicon USA. “It also strengthens the pelvic floor and core muscles while being gentle on the joints.” Here’s the 411 on this effective — and fun! — workout modality.

Jump ‘n’ Pump

Jumping up and down may seem lackluster at first glance, but this simple activity is actually quite complex on the cellular level: Your body and its trillions of cells accelerate away from the earth as you jump upward. You experience a moment of weightlessness at the apex of the jump, requiring everything to adjust as you change directions and are pulled back down by gravity. Then you and your trillions of cells suddenly decelerate as your feet hit the rebounder mat, then repeat that cycle when you once again go upward.

This kind of gravity-based, dynamic movement forces your cells, muscles, bones and other tissues to respond and adapt, and over time become stronger and more resilient. It also increases endurance at a cellular level by stimulating mitochondrial activity — thereby improving energy output — and builds bone density by increasing your “weight” as you decelerate into the rebounder.

Working outward from the cellular to the systematic, rebounding improves lymphatic circulation. “Think of the lymphatic drainage system as the metabolic trash can for the body, ridding you of toxic wastes,” says Krista Popowych, B.Hkin, 2014 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and JumpSport program director. “This system doesn’t have a pump like the heart, so it relies on movement and muscle contraction for transportation.” Bouncing up and down forces the lymph upward through a system of one-way valves, which run vertically through your body (feet to head), helping boost immunity and detoxifying your system.

Bounce Away Body Fat

Moving to your physical exterior, rebounding is an effective way to build lean mass while also burning fat: A study published in the International Journal of Sports Science concluded that rebounding was twice as effective at improving aerobic fitness and 50 percent more efficient at burning fat than running on a treadmill. “And because of the reduced impact on bones and joints, you can sustain a longer [workout] session, allowing the body to burn more calories and resulting in extensive fat loss,” says Jenny Belcher, PT Level 3, group fitness instructor, and CEO and founder of Boogie Bounce.

And when it comes to putting that physical exterior to good use, rebounding proves a remarkable performance booster and injury deterrent. “If you are on a bike or running, you move through the same repetitive movement in the same plane over and over again,” Caruso says. “Because the rebounding surface is a circle, you can literally move in every direction, improving agility and working all your muscles equally to prevent injury.”

So go ahead and jump! Science has hereby given you permission to make exercise fun again.

Bouncing Basics

Use these expert tips to improve your form — and your results — by leaps and bounds.

  • Keep your feet parallel and distribute your weight evenly between them — side to side and forward to back.
  • As you jump, push your heels into the mat for greater surface contact and to prevent your calf muscles from shortening.
  • Keep your knees slightly bent and soft as you jump to act as shock absorbers.
  • Engage your core to keep your pelvis neutral and avoid overarching or tucking.
  • Keep your chest and chin lifted and look forward; looking down can throw off your balance and negatively impact your posture.
  • Allow your arms to hang at your sides or integrate them into your workout to burn more calories and engage more muscles.

On-the-Rebound Workouts

Do each of these workouts one to two times a week. Warm up with some simple bouncing in place, starting low and getting higher as you heat up, moving your arms in all directions.

Jumping Jack

Stand in the center of the mat with your feet together, arms at your sides. Jump your feet out to the edges of the mat as you raise your arms overhead, then jump back to the center.

X-Jump

Jump down with force, feet together, arms at your sides. As you come into the air, open your legs and arms out into an X-shape, then quickly bring them back together to land for the next jump.

Low Squatting Jump

Stand with your feet on the outer edges of the mat and kick your hips back and bend your knees to lower into a squat, arms in front of you for balance. Stay low as you jump, raising your knees to hip height as you bounce while keeping your upper body steady.

Tuck Jump

Jump down with force, feet together, arms at your sides. As you come into the air, quickly bring your knees up to your chest as high as you can, then quickly extend your legs to land and go into the next rep.

Ski Jump

Stand to one side of the mat with your feet together, arms bent in front of you. Leap laterally side to side, keeping your knees and hips bent and your feet and legs together.

Knee Drive

Stand to the side of the rebounder, place your right foot on the mat and draw your right arm back. Quickly extend your right leg and drive up explosively as you bring your left knee up in front of you and swing your left arm forward, leaping as high as you can. Land softly on your right foot and absorb the impact as you return to the start. Do all reps on one side and then switch.

One-Legged Arabesque Leap

Face the rebounder with your arms at your sides. Using your right foot, drive down into the mat with force as you lift your left leg behind you, spread your arms to the sides and leap into the air, right leg straight. Land softly to absorb impact and repeat. Do all reps on one side and then switch.

Pistol Squat

Stand in the center of the mat on your left foot and extend your right leg straight out in front of you. Keep this leg straight as you slowly bend your left knee and drop your glutes toward the mat. Go as low as you can, then extend your leg and return to standing. Continue, alternating sides.

One-Legged Balance 

Stand facing the rebounder and then place your right foot in the center of the mat, extending your arms to the sides. Slowly straighten your right leg and find your balance as you lift your left leg behind you as high as you can, aiming for parallel, keeping your head and spine neutral. Hold for time.

Side Plank

Place your right hand in the center of the trampoline and extend your legs to the side so your head, hips and heels align. Brace your core and find your balance as you extend your left arm toward the sky and lift your left leg (if you can). Hold for time.

Three Tramps to Try

Bellicon Made of high-grade welded steel, this product boasts UV-resistant materials so it can be used indoors or out. Customize the size, color and strength of the bungees to match your abilities. bellicon.com, $430-$1,050

Boogie Bounce This trampoline iteration boasts a patented T-bar handle for better balance, has a high-density mat that can handle up to 350 pounds and comes with an instructional DVD. usa.boogiebounce.com, $200

JumpSport With seven adjustable firmness settings, a padded skirt and arched legs to prevent tipping, this rebounder can withstand up to 1.6 million bounces! jumpsposrtusa.com, $200-$620

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These two leg complexes are time- efficient, effective — and hurt so good. Here’s how to incorporate these barnburners into your programming.

Just like ice cream, your leg workout should have a different flavor each time you train. Some days you hit it hard and heavy and go deep into the pain cave, and others you want to turn ’em till you burn ’em with some high-volume programming. These two leg complexes are perfect for the latter scenario, giving you that high-volume blaze using only your bodyweight or lightly loaded exercises arranged in circuit format. Best of all, all you need to do them is a set of dumbbells and a box or a bench.

But even though you’re not edging toward your one-rep max here, you’re still building muscle and training your central nervous system: Research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology showed that lifting a lighter weight to failure or near failure produced gains in size and strength similar to those produced by lifting a heavy weight to failure. High-volume, high-rep work also improves power and endurance with the addition of a speed or explosive component, and it can make you feel as if you’ve just squatted super heavy without ever putting a bar on your back.

Workout Guidelines

These two complexes hit your entire lower body, but each has a more targeted focus — either glutes or quads. Choose a challenging weight that allows you to complete the minimum number of reps while maintaining good form, and perform the moves back-to-back in a circuit with no rest in between. Repeat the complex one to five times, depending on your ability and endurance, and rest two to five minutes between rounds to recover.

Use one of these complexes as a finisher after a heavy lower-body sesh, or use it on a total-body workout day. One thing to note, however: Don’t use both leg complexes in the same workout. Because of their high volume, one program is plenty!

Single-Legged Dumbbell Hip Thrust

Position your upper back and shoulders against a flat bench and sit on the floor with your feet flat, knees bent. Hold a dumbbell on your right hip with your right hand and extend your left arm out to the side along the bench. Lift your hips and your left foot off the floor, knee bent, and hold it here throughout the move. Using your right leg, press your hips toward the sky until they’re level with your knees and shoulders. Make sure your right heel stays on the floor and your spine is aligned. Pause briefly and then lower to the start. Do all reps on one side before switching.

Angled Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat

Hold a dumbbell in your right hand and stand with your back to a flat bench. Extend your right leg behind you, placing its laces down on top of the bench. Keeping your weight in your front foot, bend both knees and lower down toward the floor. As you descend, hinge your torso forward to about a 45-degree angle over your forward knee, back straight and head neutral. Drive through your heel and bring your torso erect to rise back to the start. Do all reps on one side before switching.

Bodyweight Leaning Scissor Jump

Assume a long split stance with your rear heel off the ground and most of your weight in your front leg. Angle your torso forward by hinging at the hips, back straight and head neutral, and reach your fingertips toward the floor on either side of your forward leg. Extend both legs explosively and jump as high as possible, scissoring your legs in the air and landing with the opposite leg forward. Continue, alternating legs.

Bodyweight Deadlift Jump

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, legs angled out slightly. Keep your abs tight and your back straight as you push your hips back, then bend your knees to reach your fingertips for the floor between your feet. Explode upward, extending your knees and hips simultaneously to get as high off the ground as you can. Land lightly and absorb the impact by lowering right into the next repetition.

Dumbbell Step-up

Stand facing a flat bench with a dumbbell in each hand, arms at your sides. Place one foot in the center of the bench and extend your leg to stand on top. Touch down lightly on top of the bench with your other foot, then reverse these steps to return to the floor. Continue, alternating sides.

Dumbbell Front Squat

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, legs angled out slightly, and hold a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder level. Rest one head of each dumbbell lightly on your shoulders and lift your elbows in front of you just enough so that the dumbbells are parallel to the floor. Keep your chest lifted as you drop your hips down and bend your knees, squatting as low as you can without tipping forward. Drive through your heels and extend your legs and hips to stand back up.

Bodyweight Zombie Squat Hold

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your legs angled out slightly. Extend your arms in front of you at shoulder height, parallel with the floor, then kick your hips back and bend your knees to squat down until your thighs are roughly parallel with the floor. Hold and breathe.

Bodyweight Squat Jump

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, legs angled slightly outward, and interlace your fingers lightly behind your head without pulling on your neck. Keep your chest lifted as you kick your hips back and bend your knees until your thighs are parallel or just below to the floor. Quickly extend your hips and knees and explode upward as high as you can. Land lightly and go right into the next rep. 

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Stuck in your cubicle? This full-body sweat session will get your blood pumping between meetings — no equipment required.

You’ve probably heard that sitting is the new smoking — a study from the American Cancer Society suggests that a sedentary lifestyle (sitting for more than six hours a day) is linked to a higher risk of death from 14 diseases, including cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

But if you have a desk job with long hours, how can you avoid sitting your life away? For starters, make sure you’re as active as possible outside of work — hit the gym, do chores and enjoy active hobbies. Second, consider upgrading to a standing or treadmill desk, if possible. Third, take a walk between meetings or during your lunch, and skip the elevator in favor of the stairwell. And finally, don’t be shy about doing a workout right in your cubicle — every bit of movement adds up throughout the day to increase your health, reduce stress and burn calories. The key is consistency.

“Do your best to create a routine,” says Vince Sant, certified trainer and co-creator of the fitness platform V Shred. “Whether you get to the office 15 minutes early and do it then or do it right after lunch or right before your commute home, just make a decision and do it at least Monday, Wednesday, Friday at the same time. This way, it becomes less of a choice and more of a habit.”

Ready to get started? No equipment is required for this high-intensity interval training bodyweight workout, which allows you to do it anywhere (even in a hotel room, if you travel for business). Of course, if your office requires stuffy business attire, you might want to bring an extra set of clothes that you feel comfortable moving around (and sweating) in.

For each exercise, perform it at max intensity for 30 seconds and rest 15 seconds before beginning the next move. After you have moved one by one through all seven exercises, you have completed one round. Aim for two to three rounds or as many as you have time for:

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1. Burpee

Let’s begin with this common full-body exercise to get your heart rate up. Start by jumping up off the ground, with your hands raised up above your head. Upon landing, you will bend down, put your hands on the floor in front of you and kick your legs back so that you are in push-up position. Do a push-up, then hop your feet forward toward your hands, stand up and explode into another jump. Repeat.

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2. Plank Hip Dip

Get down onto your elbows and feet for a dynamic variation of a plank. Start by making sure your back is straight and your core is engaged. Rock your left hip down to one side until it touches the floor. Then lift your hip back up and dip your right hip down to the other side. Repeat.

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3. Ab Bicycles

Lie on your back, resting your hands on the back of your head with your elbows flared out. Then raise your legs up off the ground. Engage your core as you bring one knee up and crunch the opposite elbow down to meet halfway. Return back to the starting position and do the same with the other knee and elbow. Repeat.

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4. High Knees

It’s time to get on your feet and use a jumping core exercise to engage your lower abs even more. Place your hands out in front of you, about waist high, with your palms facing down. From there, you will raise one knee up until it touches your palm, then in a jumping motion, you will bring your other knee to your other hand while returning your previous leg to the ground.

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5. Cross-Body Mountain Climber

This is a slight variation of a mountain climber to better engage obliques while keeping your heart rate up. Starting in a push-up position, rather than taking your knee and driving it straight up like you would for a traditional mountain climber, raise your right knee and drive it up and across your body to your left elbow. Return your foot back to its starting position, then repeat this move with the opposite leg. Take your left knee and drive it up and across your body to your right elbow. This additional rotation will help engage your obliques and get those “V” cuts.

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6. Alternating Jump Lunge

Moving into an explosive lower-body movement next, start by getting into a lunge position with your feet staggered. From there, you will drop your back knee down 2 inches from the floor and explode up, jumping into the air and switching feet. On landing with your feet in opposite positions, repeat the exact same lunge movement.

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7. Cross-Body Crunch

Getting down on the floor for the last exercise, extend your arms straight above and spread your legs so you’re in a star position. From there, you will bring your right arm and left leg up off the ground and tap your toe halfway. Then return your leg and arm back down to the ground and repeat with your other leg and arm.

“Once you’ve completed the workout, expect to have a good sweat rolling and your muscles on fire,” Sant says. “Depending on how many rounds you’re doing, this is going to be a five- to 15-minute full-body workout that will deliver far greater results than an hour of jogging could ever do. Plus, the endorphins released in your body and your increased circulation will help you feel good and energized for the rest of the day.”

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This low-impact rowing workout will help you engage nearly twice as many muscles as running or biking.

Before you hop on the treadmill or elliptical machine for another tedious cardio session, scan the gym for a rowing machine and hop on — after 20 or 30 minutes, you’ll be left wondering why you have neglected this incredible piece of equipment for so long.

Rowing: The Calorie Crusher “The health benefits from rowing include a unique combination of cardiovascular endurance and muscular toning and strengthening,” says Nick Karwoski, a nationally ranked triathlete, rowing enthusiast and trainer for Hydrow, the live outdoor reality rower that brings the on-river experience of rowing straight to the home. “Rowing engages 86 percent of your body’s muscles, compared to 44 percent with biking or running, as well as your heart and your lungs. It targets major muscle groups — including your glutes, hamstrings, hips, back and abdominals — while other muscle groups — such as your calves, quads, lats and arms — help support them to reproduce power with every stroke.”

As such, Karwoski says it’s possible to burn up to 400 calories in a 20-minute period of rowing, depending on the intensity.

When to Row Looking for the best way to get your heart rate up, use most of your body’s muscles and improve posture? Add a rowing session in before your straight training or lifting. Rowing — a low-impact sport — is also a great cross-training activity, since it doesn’t put as much stress on your joints and can help strengthen certain areas.

“Since there is an order of physical operation — legs, body, arms; arms, body, legs — during the forward and backward part of every stroke, it is easy to identify limitations, as well,” Karwoski says. “Rowing for 20 to 30 minutes straight through is challenging, but there are many metrics to test your ability and progress. Even 10 minutes of rowing has so many benefits.”

Try This Workout One of Karwoski’s favorite indoor rower workouts is the 6×500 meters. “Since most rowing race distances are 2,000 meters, a lot of rowers train for a time trial of that distance,” he explains. “The theory is that rowing 500 meters with one-minute recovery six times through will give you an average split for what your 2,000-meter test would look like. Depending on your warm-up, it can take between 20 and 30 minutes and will leave you utterly and completely exhausted.”

  • 1,000-meter warm-up (five to eight minutes, easy rowing with 4 x 10 hard power-building strokes)
  • 6×500 meters max effort
  • one-minute recovery in between each 500 meters

Doing 4 x 10 hard power-building strokes means four sets of 10 strokes during which the goal is to get the split (per 500-meter number) as low/fast as possible and the stroke rate (how many strokes per minute) as high as possible from stroke one to stroke 10. In other words, take 10 powerful strokes to get the heart rate going during the warm-up, which simulates goal pace. (It’s equivalent to strides before a running race.) 

Do this workout two or three times in a three-week period (once every five days or so because of the intensity), and then try the 2,000-meter test with the average split as your goal.

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