Short on time? This insanely effective circuit only takes 25 minutes
Torch Fat and Tone Up in 25 Minutes!
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If you're short on time but still want to fit in an effective training session—especially if your goal is fat loss—metabolic resistance training (MRT) is tough to beat. With this training style, the goal is to maximize caloric expenditure while also increasing your metabolic rate. There are many different ways to structure an MRT session, but generally speaking, circuit training lends itself well to this approach.
Here, you'll find two different examples of the same MRT session—one for beginners and another for intermediate/advanced trainees. Perform the workout on three non-consecutive days per week, for four weeks. It's designed to take about 25 minutes during the first two weeks and even less time after that.
How it works: Beginners will perform 1 set of A1, rest for 30 seconds; perform 1 set of A2, rest for 30 seconds; perform 1 set of A3, and then rest 60 seconds before repeating the mini-circuit 2 more times. Move on to the next mini-circuit (B1-B3) and follow the same pattern. Finally, perform 3 straight sets of C1.
For intermediate/advanced trainees: Perform all seven exercises as a giant circuit, resting 30 seconds between moves. Once you've completed one full round, rest 90 seconds, and repeat 2 more times. During weeks three and four, reduce your rest period between exercises to 15 seconds. Recovery between circuits should always be 90 seconds.
You'll need: A set of dumbbells, a chin-up bar (an exercise band for assistance is recommended), a squat rack, and a Swiss ball.
Choose the Right Resistance
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Not sure which dumbbells to grab? A good rule of thumb when choosing resistance is to first look at the number of repetitions prescribed for any given exercise. The weight you use should allow you to perform at least the minimum number of reps (with proper form) but no more than the maximum number.
To expand on my previous article about the five most important movement patterns (Click here for a reminder.), I've classified each exercise into the appropriate pattern, taking it one step further by dividing the upper-body push and pull into vertical and horizontal. Designing programs this way helps create balance between opposing muscle groups—which oftentimes gets overshadowed by more noticeable training goals like fat loss.
Ready to get started? Click through to see photos of the full workout, and then print out the charts below and take them with you to the gym.
A1: Goblet Squat
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Reps: 8 to 10
Stand tall with feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a dumbbell vertically next to chest with both hands cupping the dumbbell head. Lower body as far as you can by pushing hips back and bending knees. Pause, then push back to the starting position and repeat, keeping weight in heels, not toes, during the entire movement. Elbows should point down to the floor and brush insides of knees as you lower.
Movement pattern: knee dominant
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Reps: 12 (or as many as possible with proper form)
Place hands on a box, bench, or step slightly wider than and in line with shoulders. Slowly lower body until your chest nearly touches the bench. Pause at the bottom, and then push back up to the starting position as quickly as possible.
Too easy? Do standard pushups with hands on the floor, or make it even more challenging by elevating your feet on a box (the higher the box, the harder it gets), wearing a weight vest, or both.
A3: Inverted Rows (Elbows Out)
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Reps: 8 to 10
Grab a weight bar with an overhand, shoulder-width grip. Stand under the bar and let your body hang, arms straight. Your body should form a straight line from your ankles to your head. Pull your shoulder blades back, then pull with your arms as you lift your chest to the bar. Pause, then lower body back to starting position. That's one rep.
Note: Keep your wrists straight and body rigid for the entire movement.
Movement pattern: horizontal pull
B1: Romanian Deadlifts
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Reps: 8 to 10
Grab a pair of dumbbells, feet hip-width apart, and knees slightly bent. Hold the weights in front of thighs with palms facing in. Shift hips back and take 2 seconds to lower the dumbbells while keeping back flat. Pause for 1 second, then return to standing position by contracting hamstrings and glutes. That's one rep.
Movement pattern: hip dominant
B2: Standing Shoulder Presses
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Reps: 8 to 10
Holding a pair of dumbbells, stand with feet shoulder-width apart, and knees slightly bent. Bring dumbbells just outside shoulders, palms facing each other, elbows bent. Keep core engaged as you press dumbbells up to the ceiling, locking elbows. Slowly lower dumbbells back to starting position. That's one rep.
Movement pattern: vertical press
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Reps: 8 to 10
Note: If you're not quite ready for full bodyweight chin-ups, loop an exercise band under your knees for assistance. (The thicker the band, the more assistance it will provide.)
Grab the bar with a shoulder-width, underhand grip, and hang at arm's length. You should return to this position each time you lower your body back down. Perform a chin-up by taking 1 second to pull your collarbone to the bar. As you pull your body up, stick your chest out, squeeze your shoulder blades down and back, and focus on pulling your upper arms down forcefully. Once the top of your chest touches the bar, pause, then take 3 seconds to lower your body back to a dead hang. That's one rep.
Movement pattern: vertical pull
C1: Swiss Ball Rollouts
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Reps: 8 to 10 for beginners, up to 12 for int/adv
Place a Swiss ball in front of you on the floor. Place forearms and fists on the top of it and keep your body in a straight line from your ankles to head. Keep core engaged, elbows bent at 90 degrees, and naturally arch lower back as you roll the ball forward. Make sure your body doesn't collapse as you perform this movement. Pause here, then using your abs, pull the ball back toward knees to starting position.
To make this a little easier, perform the movement on your knees.
Movement pattern: core dominant