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Firm Up, Slim Down: Burn Fat Faster with Weights

  • James Farrell

    About This Workout

    News flash: Dumbbells can make fat disappear even when you're not hoisting them. Strength-training reps helped exercisers melt 79 percent more calories in the hour post-workout than those who hadn't lifted, a study from Arizona State University found. "Think of that afterburn as your metabolism working overtime while you lounge," says celeb trainer Brian Nguyen, the owner of Brik Fitness in Redondo Beach, California. To stoke your inner-cinerator, grab a set of weights (try 10- to 12-pounders) and do Nguyen's carve-you-up combo.

    Watch the full workout video

  • James Farrell


    Targets shoulders, triceps, core, butt, and legs

    • Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand; bend elbows by sides to bring weights in front of shoulders, palms facing each other, and lower into a deep squat.
    • Stand up, pivoting off right foot, and rotate body to face toward left, pressing right arm diagonally overhead.
    • Reverse motion to return to squat, switch sides and repeat to complete 1 rep.
    • Do 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps.
  • James Farrell

    Swing Set

    Targets shoulders, biceps, core, butt, and hamstrings

    • Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand.
    • Hinge forward from hips, bending knees into a half squat; keep back flat, arms by sides.
    • Push forcefully through heels to straighten legs, using momentum to swing arms forward to about chest level (try not to use shoulder muscles to raise the weights). Return to half-squat position.
    • Do 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps.
  • James Farrell

    Side-to-Side Push-Up

    Targets shoulders, triceps, chest, core, and quads

    • Place a dumbbell vertically (standing on one end) on floor in front of you. Get into full plank position, placing both hands on top end of dumbbell, hands directly under chest, feet together.
    • Place right hand on floor to right of dumbbell so hands are about shoulder-width apart.
    • Slowly bend elbows to lower body toward floor until head reaches level of dumbbell (or as low as you can go while maintaining balance).
    • Return to start, switch sides and repeat to complete 1 rep.
    • Do 3 sets of 6 reps.
    • MAKE IT EASIER: Use a yoga block or a step instead of a dumbbell.
  • James Farrell


    • Targets shoulders, triceps, core, butt, and hamstrings
    • Holding a dumbbell in left hand, stand with feet wide, right foot pointing to right and left foot pointing forward; extend left arm overhead, palm facing forward.
    • Side bend to right at waist, slowly reaching right fingertips to floor beside right foot; keep left arm pointed up and left leg straight throughout.
    • Reverse motion back to start.
    • Do 8 reps; switch sides and repeat. Do 3 sets.
    • MAKE IT EASIER: Reach hand to ankle or only as far as you can.
  • James Farrell

    Split-Squat Curl

    • Targets biceps, core, butt, and legs
    • Stand about 3 feet in front of a chair (with your back facing the seat), holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing forward; rest top of right foot on seat behind you.
    • Bend left knee about 90 degrees while curling weights to shoulders.
    • Return to start.
    • Do 8 to 10 reps; switch sides and repeat. Do 3 sets.
  • James Farrell

    Bear Crawl

    Targets shoulders, triceps, core, and quads

    • Start on all fours, holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing each other; lift knees off floor, balancing on toes.
    • Crawl forward, keeping knees lifted slightly and back flat as you alternately lift and place dumbbells a few inches in front of you on floor.
    • Crawl 10 steps, alternating sides. Do 3 sets.

    Originally published in FITNESS magazine, July/August 2013.