You've powered through the first month of your new workout regimen with stellar results. You're trimmer and stronger in problem areas like your lower abs, and seeing some more definition in your arms, legs, chest, and back. Now you're probably wondering how to take your fitness to the next level—to continue burning fat off your gut to reveal a leaner, more athletic body.
Wonder no more. We've got just the workout to spur new growth and consistently yield results. Created by Marc Perry, C.S.C.S., A.C.E.-C.P.T., founder of Built Lean, this high-intensity circuit is comprised of plyometric exercises which, research has found, burns substantially more fat than low-intensity exercise. In fact, as much as 95% of calorie burn can come after high-intensity exercise (known as the afterburn effect, according to the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition), so it's an incredible way to breathe new life into your routine.
Plyometric exercises are so effective because you're repeatedly creating a forceful contraction, which means you're burning major calories, Perry explains. Movements like jumping rope, sprinting, throwing (think baseball and football)—even punching or kicking—are performed rapidly and demand a quick stretching or loading of the muscle followed by a forceful contraction. This is why plyo circuits don't (and shouldn't) take very long. You want to keep the intensity high and the duration somewhere between 10 to 20 minutes. Your most intense workouts should be the shortest.
Note: You must have a base of conditioning and strength before completing the workout below. If you have any concerns or pre-existing injuries, start with the Beginner's Guide to Weight Training.
10-minute high-intensity plyo circuit
The following routine is from Perry's 12-week body transformation program, BuiltLean Transformation.
How it works: Complete the exercises sequentially with no rest between moves. Complete 3 total rounds of this circuit, resting 2 minutes between each set.
What you need: A jump rope. (So you can do this workout practically anywhere.)
"Be sure to warm up for 5-10 minutes to get your body prepared with some dynamic stretching and low-intensity cardio conditioning, then finish with some static stretching to help improve your mobility," Perry suggests.
Workout duration: About 10 minutes
Jumping jacks - 25 reps
Repeat continuously without pausing between jumps. "The jumping jack requires balance and coordination, which transfers to improved athleticism," Perry explains. "Jumping your legs sideways will also help build lateral core and hip strength, both of which are typically weaknesses in many guys who only do traditional weightlifting."
Squat jacks - 15 reps
Stand upright with your feet together and your hands clasped behind your head (or held in front of your chest). Jump, and spread your legs outward while squatting down so that your thighs are parallel with the ground. Jump back up to the starting position.
“Similar to the jumping jack, this exercise further improves your lateral core and hip strength, but adds a more intense legs burn that will be sure to increase calorie burn, while building muscle,” Perry says.
Mountain climbers – 20 reps
“The mountain climber mimics a running stride, but your core is forced to be engaged as you’re pushing into the ground with your hands,” Perry explains. “This helps develop core strength, along with cardiovascular endurance.”
Speed skaters – 16 reps
Stand upright with your feet a few inches wider than shoulder-width. Squat down halfway, then jump to your left side by pushing off your right leg. When your left foot lands, your left leg will be comfortably bent and your right leg bent behind you. Swing your right leg to your right side then jump to your right leg. Continue alternating.
“Most traditional gym exercises don’t train rotational strength and power, or the lateral movement required to play sports,” Perry says. “Speed skaters are an excellent and underutilized exercise to help you feel like an athlete again.”
Jump rope – 50 reps
“There’s a good reason martial artists and boxers religiously jump rope,” Perry says. “It helps build conditioning and speed, and it’s an excellent full-body warmup when completed at a slower speed.”
Note: To make the workout more challenging, you can make one, or all of the following changes. If you make all of these changes, and complete the workout with proper form, you’ve reached a very high fitness level.
1. Substitute burpees for jumping jacks
"Burpees are a notoriously difficult exercise that are used as punishment in the military," Perry says. Start off with 25 burpees, and the above circuit will become a lot more challenging. If 25 reps is too much, drop it down to 10 reps.
2. Substitute 10 kettlebell swings for jumping rope
"While jumping rope is an awesome exercise, the kettlebell swing may be the ultimate fat-burning exercise because your entire body is engaged to propel the kettlebell forward, then catch it between your legs—continuously," Perry says. "In fact, kettlebell training can burn upwards of 20 calories per minute."
3. Wear a 20- to 50-lb weighted vest
"If you want to transform from an average fit dude into a beast, just add a weighted vest and complete the above circuit," Perry says. "Consider adding 20 to 50lbs depending on your strength and fitness level." Note: This is for advanced trainees only.