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Cover models aside, most of us dread the thought of slipping on a bikini (especially at the beginning of the season). Well, get ready to kiss your swimsuit phobia goodbye. This workout, created by Los Angeles-based trainer Patrick Goudeau, tames your biggest trouble zones through a series of circuits. "Circuits are designed to strengthen muscles while adding a fat-burning cardio element in a very time-efficient manner," says Jan Schroeder, PhD, senior exercise physiologist for IDEA Health and Fitness Association. So even while you're performing the weight moves, your heart rate remains elevated to boost your overall fitness level.Personalize Your Workout
Circuits can be intense, since you don't have a lot of time to catch your breath between moves. Modify the workout to suit your level. You'll need a set of dumbbells and a step bench. Do each exercise for one minute, except where indicated. Try just one 15-minute circuit to zap a particularly persnickety body part, or do all three and burn up to 450 calories.Beginners
Cardio Burst (intermediate/advanced only): Run as hard and as fast as you can in place for 1 minute, raising knees to hip height.
Tip: Get more out of lower-body moves by contracting your abs -- you'll improve your balance and stability, so you can work harder.2. Weighted Bridge
Cardio Burst (everyone): Run in place for 2 minutes.
Tip: A beginner? Do just one complete circuit all the way through, then add another round as you get stronger.3. Sit Squat
Advanced Option: Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides.
Cardio Burst (intermediate/advanced only): Run in place for 1 minute.
Advanced Option: Do side-to-side bicycle crunches with hands supporting the head for an additional minute.
Cardio Burst (intermediate/advanced only): Mountain Climbers. Get into full push-up position, hips low and abs tight. Bring right leg toward chest, tapping foot on ground; switch legs quickly and repeat for 1 minute.
Tip: If you're struggling with the advanced options, choose the beginner moves. You'll see better results and lower your risk of injury.2. Abdominal Hold
Beginners: Keep one foot on the ground to start.
Cardio Burst (everyone): Mountain Climbers; 2 minutes.3. Half Boat
Cardio Burst (intermediate/advanced only): Mountain Climbers; 1 minute.
Cardio Burst (intermediate/advanced only): Plyo Step Lunge. Stand on bench with arms at sides. Touch right toes to ground behind you, bringing arms overhead. Bring right foot up and lower arms, then quickly switch sides, hopping left foot down while raising arms. Continue, switching sides explosively, for 1 minute.2. One-Legged Deadlift
Cardio Burst (everyone): Plyo Step Lunge; 2 minutes.3. Balancing Hamstring/Biceps Curl
Cardio Burst (intermediate/advanced only): Plyo Step Lunge; 1 minute.
Originally published in Fitness magazine, June 2006.