How to Up the Ante for an Intense Workout

The quickest way to ditch a fitness routine is to get bored, and the fastest track to sheer boredom is monotony in your exercises. With a combination of high-intensity intervals wrapped around circuit training that will never be the case; you're done with your workout before it gets lame!

Step 1: Warm Up No, not stretching; warm-ups. You wouldn't pull frozen taffy, don't yank on cold muscles unless you desire the same outcome. 3-5 minutes of light activity from jogging in place (or treadmill, elliptical, etc) or jumping jacks, arm, neck & waist circles or very easy jumping rope will do just fine.

Step 2: Flip the Switch Short, intense intervals will not only leave you breathless in a hurry, they increase your metabolism, fat oxidation and endurance more effectively than any other type of workout. Find a stretch of road, sidewalk, sports field or treadmill where you can run all-out for :30 to 1:00 and then rest for the same interval before sprinting back to the start. On a treadmill, carefully step off the belt onto the side rails - I repeat - do this very carefully. Perform 5-10 repetitions for a total of 10 to 20 minutes. Each workout add one more :30 rep and keep pushing the tempo.

Want to take it to the next level? Find some stairs or a hill to climb; :30 up at full speed, :30 walk slowly down & repeat.

Congratulations, your workout is half over and your brain should be awash in magical happy-feeling endorphins. Take 2:00 to breathe, hydrate and prepare for some body work.

Step 3: No Weights Needed Total body fitness does not come from pushing weights in a pre-defined motion while sitting on a bench and anyone who tells you differently is full of it. Full-body workouts use  multiple joints, a full compliment of stabilizer muscles and two or more prime movers (big muscles) working together to complete. Not only are body weight exercises more beneficial to your overall fitness and athletic prowess, they continue the fat oxidation and revved up metabolism that you started with the intervals. Repeat each of the following exercises in a circuit - one exercise after the other with little to no rest in between. After each round, take a 1:00 break to breathe, hydrate and wipe off the sweat. If this short & intense circuit doesn't make you good & sweaty, you're not pushing the tempo enough.

(pick the number of reps that you can complete in set 1, exercise descriptions & photos can be found at

Round 1

  • 12 push-ups
  • 12 bodyweight squats
  • 12 mountain climbers
  • 12 bicycle crunches
  • 12 hip raises
  • 1:00 rest

Reduce each exercise by 2 reps, continue to zero
Round 2

  • 10 push-ups
  • 10 bodyweight squats
  • etc.

Round 3

  • 8 push-ups
  • 8 bodyweight squats
  • etc.

Yup, that's it! It should take 12-18 minutes to complete the bodyweight portion of your workout. If you're keeping track of time, you're probably at around 45 minutes depending on the intervals and reps... and you should be totally spent! Take a light jog to cool down and stretch for 3-5 minutes to start the recovery process. Check out for examples of cardio for warm-up & cool down, stretches and even fitness games!)

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  1. JLMA

    Hi Admin,

    I see that in this “Intense Workout” the “cardio” part (“intervals”, in this case) comes BEFORE the “body-weight sets”.
    In “7 Weeks to Getting Ripped”, however, “cardio” comes AFTER the “body-weight exercises”.

    Is one approach better than the other?



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