Consider them the good kind of dirty dozen.
Any strength training is good for your body, but not all moves are created equal. If you’re looking to drop pounds—quickly—look no further than this 12-step workout.
One of the latest performance trends is high-intensity training geared at improving how well your body can convert energy into the kind your working muscles can use (also known as mitochondrial density), says Kyle Dobbs, a National Academy of Sports Medicine-certified personal trainer and personal training manager at The Wright Fit in New York City.
“The more mitochondrial density you have, the longer you can train at higher intensities, which leads to more calorie burning overall,” says Dobbs.
The dozen moves below work perfectly for ramping up your calorie-burning ablilities because you can use the same amount of resistance for each one, helping you quickly transition to the next exercise and keep your heart rate (and cal-torching potential) buzzing high.
Start a stopwatch and perform each exercise for 10 reps on the minute in order. (This should give you around a 20:40 work/rest ratio.) Repeat twice for three total rounds, resting for two minutes between each round.
MARCHING GLUTE BRIDGE
This lower-body blaster isolates both glutes individually, while also stabilizing your core for increased activation throughout the exercise. And that’s perfect for more efficient calorie burning. (Speed up your progress towards your weight-loss goals with Women’s Health’s Look Better Naked DVD.)
How to do it: Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Rest your arms on the floor, palms up. Raise your hips so that your body forms a straight line from shoulders to knees (A). Brace your abs and lift your right knee towards your chest. Hold for two seconds, then lower your right foot (B). Repeat with the other leg. That’s one rep.
This dynamic movement recruits core-stabilizing muscles, which integrates more muscle groups simultaneously for a higher calorie burn. You’ll also work on shoulder and core mobility while training your abdominals and obliques. Woot!
How to do it: Start in a pushup position (A). Keeping your arms straight and your core engaged, shift your weight onto your left arm, rotate your torso to the right, and raise your arm toward the ceiling so that your body forms a T. Hold, then return to start and repeat on the other side.
LOW LATERAL LUNGE
You’ll love the lunge for opening up your hips while working your glutes (big metabolism igniters) and obliques. And you’ll love the lateral movement for working your body through an alternate plane of motion.
How to do it: Stand with your feet about twice shoulder-width apart. Shift your weight to your right leg as you push your hips backward and lower your body by dropping your hips and bending your knees. Keep your right leg perpendicular to the floor and your left foot on the ground (A). Without raising yourself back up to a standing position, reverse the movement to the left (B). That’s one rep.
The deadlift is everything, especially when you do it on one leg: You’ll work your entire posterior chain (a.k.a. glutes and hamstrings) and challenge your core (it has to jump in to prevent you from tipping forward). The result: increased muscle integration creates high-caliber calorie burning.
How to do it: Grab a pair of dumbbells with an overhand grip, and hold them at arm’s length in front of you (A). Keep your knees slightly lbend and bend at your hips. Lower your torso until it’s almost parallel to the floor. Yourr right leg should stay in line with your body (B). Return to the starting position.
This compound movement (which is harder than it looks!) works every major muscle group. Expect maximum burn for maximum payoff.
How to do it: Grab a pair of dumbbells and hold them next to your shoulders (A). Lower your bod until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Stand up and press the dumbbells directly above your shoulders (B).
Planks are great, dynamic planks are better. This advanced variation better challenges your upper body (core included), which burns more calories.
How to do it: Start in plank position. Simultaneously step your left foot and hand to your left. Then step your right foot and hand to the left so that you’re back in plank position (A). Repeat by stepping your right foot and hand to the right, followed by your left hand and foot (B). That’s one rep.
When done one arm at a time, a shoulder press makes your abs work double time. And toned shoulders make your whole body look slimmer, so they’re a clutch way to make even a little weight loss look like a lot.
How to do it: Hold the dumbbells next to your shoulders with your elbows bent. Your palms should face each other (A). Lift each dumbbell one at a time, in an alternating motion (B).
This move balances out all the pushing and pressing—and targets the muscles in your upper back, an often-overlooked area. When you improve muscle mass, you increase your metabolism. That’s key to weight loss.
How to do that: Hold the dumbbells next to your shoulders with your elbows bent. Your palms should face each other (A). Lift each dumbbell one at a time, in an alternating motion (B).
Add these moves into your workout for even more calorie-blasting power.
Oh, mountain climbers, how we love to hate you. You get our heart rate up, blast our abs, and tire our arms and legs too. But you’re a major calorie burner, so it’s all good.
How to do it: Start in the pushup position, and bring your right knee toward your chest (A). Return to start then repeat with the other foot (B). That’s one rep.
DUMBBELL ROMANIAN DEADLIFT
A full-body deadlift utilizes the largest muscle groups in your body to help you melt calories fast. It also improves your posture, which will help you look like you lost weight way before the pounds come off.
Grab dumbbells with overhand grip, and hold them in front of your thighs. Your knees slightly bent (A). Bend at your hips until your torso is almost parallel to the floor (B). Pause, then return to the starting position.
Marrying a plank and a row to challenge your upper body, back, and core is such a bomb move. You’ll feel this one right away.
How to do it: Assume a pushup position with your hands on the weights, arms extended, and feet slightly wider than hip-width apart (A). Bend your right arm, and raise the dumbbell to chest level. Lower the weight to the floor, and then repeat the move by rowing the left dumbbell (B). That’s one rep.
The best way to cap off your workout is with a metabolic finisher that ramps up your heart rate and fatigues your muscles to the max. This plyometric (read: explosive) winner will do it.
How to do it: With your feet hip-width apart, lower your body until your knees are bent to almost 90 degrees (A). Explosively jump your legs outward, and then immediately jump to bring them back to the starting position (B). That’s one rep.