Workout: Trim Down & Tone Up!

workout exercise
Looking for a new workout that will torch major calories while building muscle? I created the following circuit workout routine this morning (at 4 a.m.—yep), and I’m still feeling energized and motivated. Try it for yourself to tone your chest, butt, and core—all while burning fat and boosting your heart rate! And did you know exercise can help support your immune system?
Bonus: This workout is super easy to customize. Tailor the exercises to fit your skill level, and experiment with swapping certain similar exercises for others. This simple customization allows you to get a different workout each time you do the routine, even if you follow the basic template multiple times a week. In turn, you’ll more fully tone your muscles and prevent your body from plateauing.

You’ll do 3 reps of a cardio-weights routine, followed by a series of planks. Don’t forget to stay hydrated and take a short rest after each circuit!

20-20-20: 3 reps of 20 minutes of cardio

I chose the treadmill for my cardio workout (walk 1 min/run 4 min at 1% incline). Incline walking, elliptical, or biking are great options too—or you can mix it up for each rep! You can also modify the minutes depending on the time you have for a workout.

30-40-30: 3 reps of squats

Immediately following each cardio rep, perform the designated amount of squats. Try regular bodyweight squats, barbell squats,sumo squats, or a combination—and always make sure you are using proper form. You can swap squats for any lower-body exercise. My favorites are deadlifts, one-leg leg press, or bridges.

When doing squats, make sure your knees don’t extend past your toes. Keep your core tight and push through your heels. Your back should naturally curve, but do not arch it.

30-40-30: 3 reps of crunches

Immediately following each set of squat reps, perform the designated amount of crunches. You can swap crunches for any core-toning exercise, such as stability ball crunches, full sit-ups, or V-ups.

Stability ball crunches work your deep and lower abs. The further back on the ball you sit, the more you have to use your core to pull yourself upright. Hold a medicine ball, weight plate, or dumbbell to add resistance.

30-40-30: 3 reps of chest press

Immediately following each set of crunch reps, perform the designated amount of chest press reps. You don’t need to use a heavy weight—I used a 20-pound barbell, but dumbbells work fine too. You can swap standard chest press for incline or decline press, narrow- or wide-grip press, or flys.

Work your core even more by pressing your back flat into the bench. Make sure your wrists don’t roll back and the bar rests toward your thumbs (not toward your index fingers).

Plank series: 3 reps of 3 plank exercises

Following your last chest press rep, perform 3 different plank exercises 3 times in a row. Why? Because planks are the ultimate body-toning exercise! Different variations of this basic move can target not only your core, but also your arms, back, and legs.

You can try standard planks (supported by your hands), elbow planks (supported by your forearms), two-point planks (elevating opposite arm and leg), and side planks (supported by one hand facing sideways, and stacking feet on top of each other). You can even add motion and do leg lifts, arm extensions, or side twists while in the plank position. Choose 3 plank exercises for your circuit, then perform that circuit 3 times in a row. I did elbow planks with arm extensions, side planks with twists, and standard planks with leg lifts.

By Erica Tasto

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