Efficient. Creative. Effective. These words describe this fast routine that will help you build muscle worth showing off in just one month
If you've been following along with our plan, high five! You're halfway through it. (If you didn't get a chance to do last month's moves, don't sweat it. Jump right in with this routine to look and feel better in a short four weeks.) Here, you'll level up by adding weights. The result? You increase the number of muscle fibers put to work, getting stronger and firmer with each move. "Plus, when more muscles are involved, your body burns more calories as it tries to repair them post-workout," says trainer Katrina Scott (who demos the moves below). Scott and her partner in fitness, Karena Dawn, are the founders of Tone It Up and the designers behind your better-body-by-summer plan.
In many of these exercises, you'll stand on one leg or coordinate opposing arm and leg movements. Your balance will be thrown off and you'll really have to focus to complete the moves correctly, two things that will engage your proprioceptors (sensory receptors in muscles), which turn on as many muscles as possible to keep you from toppling over. "Your entire body is working harder to stay balanced, translating to faster firming and better burning," Dawn says. (Other perks: You'll improve your coordination and posture.)
You'll notice that this routine hits all your major muscle groups, with a little extra emphasis on your arms and abs. "It's about efficiency," Scott explains. "Why just work your butt when you can also define your arms at the same time?" she says. "Instead, get as much as you can out of every single move." It's a time-saver too (the workout takes less than 30-minutes). Just carve out that small chunk in your schedule so you can start carving out those muscles.
Tone It Up 30-Day Dumbbell Challenge
Your 30-Day Dumbbell Challenge
Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, do the circuit described below and shown in the video above. The first week, you'll do ten reps of each exercise. The second week, you'll do twelve reps, and by week three, you'll do fifteen. You'll do the circuit twice each day. Finally, by week four, you'll do fifteen reps of each exercise, and increase to three circuits total. Warm up with a couple of minutes of dynamic stretches—anything like plank walk-outs, lunges with rotation, and skips do the job.
Fill the rest of your week with two to three days of 25 minutes of high intensity cardio intervals. Run, cycle, row—whichever you prefer. Start with a five-minute warm-up at an easy, steady pace, then alternate 30-second bursts of all-out effort with 30 seconds of recovery at a moderate pace for 15 minutes. Last, hold a moderate pace for three minutes, then cool down for two minutes. Take a day off each week. Do this routine for four weeks.
You'll need: A set of 5, 8, or 10 pound dumbbells. For the second half of the month, try to use heavier weights than what you started with.
Stand on right leg with left knee bent out to side and ankle crossed above right knee, holding a weight in each hand, arms by sides to start.
Shift hips back, bending right knee to lower into figure-four position as you raise straight arms forward with palms down to shoulder height. Return to start. That’s 1 rep. Switch sides; repeat.
Deadlift Twist and Curl
Stand with feet together, holding a weight in each hand, palms resting on thighs to start. Shift weight onto left leg and bend knee slightly; hinge forward from hips to lower torso and straight arms toward floor, lifting extended right leg behind you so that body forms a T to start.
Slowly reverse movement, coming to stand on left leg and raising bent right knee to hip height as you rotate torso toward right, turning palms to face up and curling weights to shoulders. Return to start. That’s 1 rep. Switch sides; repeat.
Long-lunge Hammer Kick
Stand with feet hip width apart, holding a weight in each hand with arms by sides to start. Step straight left leg back, bending right leg and curling weights toward chest with palms facing each other, elbows by sides.
Remain in long lunge and extend arms back and up. Reverse movement to start. Switch sides; repeat. That’s 1 rep.
Lie face-up on floor with knees bent and feet flat, holding a weight in each hand with arms extended toward ceiling, palms facing each other to start. Lift hips so that body forms a straight line from knees to shoulders as you bend elbows 90 degrees to lower weights to hover above forehead.
Lower hips to floor, straighten arms, and curl torso up into a crunch, reaching weights toward knees. Return to start. That’s 1 rep. Do 15 reps.
Crunch Lift and Twist
Lie face-up on floor with legs extended, holding a weight in each hand with arms by sides and palms facing up to start. Sit up, bringing bent left knee toward chest, rotating torso toward knee, and curling right weight up toward chest. Return to start. Switch sides; repeat. That’s 1 rep.
Lie face-up on floor with right leg bent and foot flat, left leg extended, a weight in right hand with arm extended up toward ceiling and palm facing forward, left arm resting on floor to start.
Press into right foot and left palm to sit up, lifting extended left leg and reaching weight across chest toward it. Return to start. That’s 1 rep. Switch sides; repeat.
Start on floor on all fours, holding a weight in right hand; lift extended right arm back to mid-thigh height with palm facing up. Keeping hips square, raise bent left leg up and back (with foot flexed) until knee is at hip height as you raise straight right arm to shoulder height behind you. Return to start. That’s 1 rep. Switch sides; repeat.
On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday do 10 reps of each exercise. Complete the full circuit twice.
Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, do 30 minutes of steady-state cardio of your choice.
Chill out on Sunday. Whew!
On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday do 12 reps of each exercise. Complete the full circuit twice.
Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, do 40 minutes of steady-state cardio of your choice.
On Sunday, sleep in!
On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday do 15 reps of each exercise. Complete the full circuit twice.
Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, do 50 minutes of steady-state cardio of your choice.
And on Sundays, you rest.
You're so close! This week, tackle 3 full circuits on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, doing 15 reps of each exercise.
On Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, up your cardio to a full hour.
But on Sunday, all you have to do is pour yourself a glass of rosé—you earned it!