This high-energy cardio circuit gets you off the treadmill.

Whether it’s running on the treadmill, riding the recumbent bike, climbing the StepMill or sculling on the rower, a little monotony is simply the price to be paid to get lean, right?

Wrong, thankfully. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, working at 80 to 95 percent of your maximum heart rate (i.e., the total number of times your heart can beat in a minute) for anywhere from five seconds to eight minutes, interspersed with recovery periods during which you’re working at 40 to 50 percent of MHR, improves not only your energy production but also lowers your blood pressure, cholesterol and abdominal fat. It’s called interval training, and it burns up to 15 percent more calories than steady-state cardio.

Starting today, you can step off and pump up your cardio sessions in a whole new way. The following five-exercise circuit is designed to challenge your cardiovascular system, prodding your heart rate into the fat-burning zone by engaging all your major muscle groups. Do the five movements in circuit fashion — one right after the other for 15 reps each, three rounds total. Within each circuit, only “rest” as long as it takes you to transition to the next movement. Between each round, rest one to two minutes, just enough time that you feel you’ve caught your breath. You can repeat this workout anywhere from two to five times per week, depending on your goals.

As you move maintain awareness on your breath and be mindful of your technique and range of motion. Quality of movement will amplify your results.

Warm-Up

Knee-to-Chest Stretch
Complete 10 reps per side, alternating sides.

  • Start with your arms at your sides, feet in a comfortable “ready” stance.
  • Lift your right leg off the floor as you fully bend your knee, grasping that knee with both hands to press it against your abdomen — you should feel a stretch in your quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes as you do so.
  • Maintain your balance as you hold that position for a three-count, then let go and return your foot to the floor. Repeat the sequence with your left leg.
  • If you have trouble maintaining balance during this stretch, you can instead do it while lying faceup on the floor or a flat bench.

High Kicks
Complete 10 reps per side, alternating sides.

  • Start with your feet hip-width apart, spine tall, arms extended overhead.
  • Keeping your arms and legs straight, kick your left leg up as you bring your right hand down. Aim for your palm and toes to meet at chest level.
  • Repeat, alternating sides.

Hip Stretch With a Twist
Complete 10 reps per side, alternating sides.

  • Starting on your hands and knees, bring your right foot up to your right hand. Keep your hips down and lower back flat.
  • Lift your right hand and twist to the right, extending your arm and reaching toward the ceiling. Straighten your back (left) leg.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.

Workout

1. Speedskaters
Sets: 3
Reps: 15

  • Stand with your feet a bit wider than shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent.
  • Bend deep at the knees and lower your hips, keeping your torso upright, spine aligned and head up.
  • Shift your weight onto your left foot, then leap explosively as far as you can to your right. Land softly with your right knee bent to 90 degrees and your left leg extended behind you to the outside of your right leg. Let your arms swing through the motion and across your body.
  • Quickly leap as far left as you can, and continue to alternate sides.
  • Tip: Swing your arms to help generate momentum, but don’t let your trailing knee touch the ground.

2. Planking Shoulder Taps to Sandbell Overhead Slam
Sets: 3
Reps: 15

  • Assume a standard close-grip push-up position, with your hands together on a sandbell directly under your chest.
  • Balancing on your right hand, quickly tap your right shoulder with your left hand, then switch hands and tap your left shoulder with your right hand.
  • Keeping your hands on the floor, “hop” to bring your legs forward, landing with your feet just outside your hands as you raise your torso to come up into a squat.
  • Grasp the sandbell with both hands and stand straight up as you bring the weight up in a wide arc and directly overhead.
  • Slam the weight down on the floor and let the momentum carry your arms behind you.
  • Bring your arms forward, bend down to place them on the sandbell and jump your legs back to the starting push-up position.

3. Three-Point Pivot Lunge/Squat
Sets: 1
Reps: 15

  • Step your right foot forward into a lunge, keeping your elbows bent and your hands out in front of you.
  • Keeping your torso upright and spine aligned, pulse up and down for a count of four. Make sure not to let your back knee touch down to the floor.
  • Without moving your feet, stand up and pivot 90 degrees to face forward, keeping your arms and hands in the same position as you lower into a sumosquat. Pulse up and down for a count of four.
  • Pivot 90 degrees to the left, and lower your hips into a deep lunge position. Pulse up and down four times.
  • Pivoting from right to front to left counts as one rep. Continue the pattern, pivoting from the left to the front, then to the right, to complete a second rep,and so on.

4. Planking Walk-Up With Frogger
Sets: 3
Reps: 15

  • Start in a push-up position, your body aligned from the top of your head to your heels and your hands directly under your shoulders.
  • Bend your left arm and then your right to lower yourself onto your forearms in a traditional “plank” position.
  • Without pausing, reverse the action, extending your left arm and then your right to return to the top of a push-up.
  • Keeping your hands on the floor, “hop” your feet forward, planting them just outside each of your hands. Lift your torso and drop your hips into a squat.
  • Hop your legs behind you and repeat the sequence.
  • Tip: Be sure to keep your chin up and neck in alignment with your spine throughout the exercise.

5. Seated V-Up With Sandbell-Over-Shoulder Rotations
Sets: 3
Reps: 15

https://youtu.be//rYyxWrNP0Vs

  • Sit on the floor, feet together, knees bent and open, spine tall and chin up. Hold a sandbell with both hands in between your knees, with your elbows at your sides.
  • Lift your feet off the floor and balance on your glutes to form a “V,” keeping the sandbell between your knees. This is your starting position.
  • Extend your legs fully while lifting the sandbell up over your right shoulder, next to your right ear.
  • Bend your knees while bringing the weight back down to the starting position and repeat, bringing the sandbell up over your left shoulder, to complete one rep.
  • Tip: If you don’t have a sandbell, you also can use a kettlebell or weight plate with handholds instead.

Cool-Down

Downward Facing Dog
Hold for three slow, deep breaths.

https://youtu.be//JHT73MjslfM

  • Start in a push-up position, with your directly below your shoulders.
  • Spread your fingers wide and press your hips up toward the ceiling.
  • Draw your heels down to the floor and press your hands firmly into the floor or mat.
  • Draw your shoulder blades down and keep your head between your arms. (Don’t let it hang down.)

Hip Stretch With a Twist
Hold for three slow, deep breaths.

  • Starting on your hands and knees, bring your right foot up to your right hand. Keep your hips down and lower back flat.
  • Lift your right hand and twist to the right, extending your arm and reaching toward the ceiling. Straighten your back (left) leg.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.

Lying Piriformis Stretch
Hold for three slow, deep breaths.

https://youtu.be//1tGXMW41EqE

  • Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor about hip-width apart.
  • Put your left ankle on top of your right knee in a “figure-4” position.
  • Lift your right foot off the floor and grasp the back of that thigh with both hands to help accentuate the stretch through your glutes and hamstrings, pulling your legs toward your abdomen.
  • Repeat the sequence with your right ankle on top of your left knee.

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