Only have time for one workout this week? Do this total-body, fat-burning circuit!
The Once-a-Week Workout Plan
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Too busy to get to the gym? It happens—so don't let it get you down! While working out just once a week isn't ideal, with this intense total-body circuit you can fry fat, maintain muscle, and preserve stamina without dropping a single to-do. Miami-based fitness expert Jessica Smith designed this routine to incorporate strength, cardio, core, and flexibility training to help you squeeze in as much fitness as possible into a single session. Just one caveat: You. Better. WORK!
(And in case your schedule is just as jam-packed next week, check out these full-body plans you can do in 15 minutes or less.)
How it works: After completing a 3- to 5-minute dynamic warm-up (try a few sets of basic bodyweight moves like marches, squats, planks, jumping jacks, etc.), perform 3 sets each of the first two circuits, resting 1 to 2 minutes between sets. Finish your workout with 2 full sets of the core and flexibility circuit (3), which doubles as your cool-down.
You'll need: Two sets of dumbbells (use heavier weights for larger muscles like your legs, chest, or back and lighter weights for your arms).
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Perform 1 set of the prescribed number of reps for each exercise in the circuit, moving from one move to the next with little or no rest in between. Do the full circuit 3 times, rest 1 to 2 minutes, and then move on to circuit 2.
Circuit 1 Exercises:
1A: Squat swing and switch
1B: Balancing bow-and-arrow row
1C: Alternating goal post press
1D: Single-leg squat thrust and hop
1A: Squat Swing and Switch
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Grab one heavy dumbbell (8 to 25 pounds, depending on fitness level) in your right hand and stand tall with feet wide. Lower into a deep squat, swinging the dumbbell in between legs, left arm extending out behind body. Swing both arms overhead and quickly stand up, pressing hips forward and contracting glutes and abs. At the top of the swing, grab the dumbbell with left hand and immediately lower into a deep squat, swinging the dumbbell through legs with left arm. Repeat 20 times in a row, alternating arms each time.
1B: Balancing Bow-and-Arrow Row
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Reps: 10 per side
Begin in a split stance with right foot forward, holding one heavy dumbbell in left hand. Lower into a lunge, hinging slightly forward from hips. Keep back straight and reach both arms on either side of right foot. Begin to stand up out of lunge, shifting weight into right foot, and row left arm up, lifting left leg off the floor behind hip, maintaining hinge position with upper body (body almost makes a straight line from heel to head). Lower back down to lunging start position. That's one rep. Do 10 repetitions in a row, then switch sides and repeat.
1C: Alternating Goal Post Press
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Grab a set of heavy dumbbells and lie faceup on the floor (or on a weight bench) with knees bent and pressed together, feet flat. Open arms out to sides of shoulders with elbows bent 90 degrees and hovering just above the ground, palms facing away from head (arms should resemble a goal post in this position). Brace abs in tight, and keeping body still, press right arm up above chest (aim the inside end of the dumbbell towards the mid-line of chest). As right arm lowers, press left arm up. That's one rep. Repeat 20 times in a row.
1D: Single-Leg Squat Thrust and Hop
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Reps: 5 per side
Begin in a full plank position, bend left knee, lifting heel to the ceiling. Slightly bend right leg and jump off right foot, landing with foot close to hands, left knee still bent and foot off the floor. Quickly jump up off right leg and straight up, keeping left knee bent up towards chest. Land on right leg and bring arms back down to the ground to jump back out to plank, keeping left knee bent and foot off the floor the entire time. Try up to 5 in a row, then switch legs and repeat.
Repeat the full circuit two more times (3 total) before moving on to circuit 2.
Too tough? Work on a two-legged squat thrust and hop up until you feel ready to try this variation.
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Perform 1 set of the prescribed number of reps for each exercise in the circuit, moving from one move to the next with little or no rest in between. Do the full circuit 3 times, rest 1 to 2 minutes, and then move on to circuit 3.
Circuit 2 Exercises:
2A: Pushup jack and renegade row
2B: Kickback and kick
2C: Matrix curl
2D: Kneeling crunch
2A: Pushup Jack and Renegade Row
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Begin in a plank position, balancing on top of dumbbells. 'Jack' feet open, with legs landing wider than hip-width apart as you lower into a full pushup. As you press up, 'jack' feet back together, jumping legs closed until they touch. Quickly row left arm back, bending elbow behind body and bringing weight to the side of torso. Repeat and row with right arm. That's one rep. Try up to 8 reps in a row.
Too intense? Lower into a modified pushup and then extend legs to jack feet together for the row.
2B: Kickback and Kick
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Reps: 10 per side
Stand on right leg, holding a lighter set of dumbbells (3 to 12 pounds, depending on fitness level). Bend right knee and hinge forward from hips so torso is at a 45-degree angle, lifting left knee, flexing foot, with elbows bent by sides.
Do a triceps kickback by extending both arms back behind body and kick left leg back by extending leg behind hip, pressing out through heel. Maintain balance as you return to start position (try not to let left foot touch the floor). Do 10 repetitions in a row with left leg, then 10 with the right.
2C: Matrix Curl
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Start kneeling, holding lighter set of dumbbells, palms facing away from body. Maintaining a straight line from knees to head, brace abs in tight and hinge back about 45 degrees (avoid arching lower back) as you curl arms up, keeping elbows by sides. Lower arms as you bring body back up to start position. Repeat 15 times.
2D: Kneeling Crunch
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Begin kneeling on hands and knees, with abs pulled in and knees lifted slightly off the floor (just a few inches). Pivoting through feet, turn torso to the left, lifting left arm and right leg, bending left elbow into right knee. Your left foot should be pressed flat on the floor for balance. Quickly return to start and repeat to the other side. That's one rep. Repeat 10 times in a row.
Repeat the full circuit two more times (3 total) before moving on to circuit 3.
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Perform 1 set of each series in this core and flexibility circuit, with little or no rest in between. Do the full circuit 2 times.
Circuit 3 Exercises:
Side plank series
Full plank series
3A: Side Plank Series
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Hold for 30 seconds per side
Lie on your right side with your knees straight. Prop your upper body up on your right elbow and forearm, left arm extended up to ceiling over shoulder. Focus on pressing right side of torso away from the floor and bracing abs in tight. Hold for 30 seconds.
Gently lower all the way down into a side-lying quadriceps stretch by extending right arm out straight under ear and bending left knee. Hold onto left foot and pull heel towards body. Focus on pressing hips forward and breathe deeply, holding for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
3B: Full Plank Series
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Hold for 30 seconds in each pose
Begin in a full plank with feet hip width. Keeping abs braced in tight (avoid letting hips sag) hold for 30 seconds. Lower hips to the floor, pointing through toes and letting thighs rest on the floor as lower back arches. Lift chest and press shoulders down. Hold for 30 seconds. Next, tuck toes under and brace abs in tight to help lift hips and return to plank. From plank, press hips up and chest towards thighs into a downward facing dog stretch, dropping heels to the floor (or as close to the floor as possible). Hold for 30 seconds, then shift weight into feet and walk hands into legs, slowly rolling up through spine to return to standing.
Repeat the full circuit one more time (2 total).