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Condoleezza Rice's No-Excuses Workout

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Work In a Workout

If one of the busiest women on the planet can make time for exercise on a near-daily basis, that leaves the rest of us with one less excuse. The Secretary of State's workout would put most athletes to shame: Six days of cardio for up to an hour (at home she uses the treadmill or elliptical machine), plus three days of strength circuits and one day off for recovery. It's an intense routine that offers big physical payoffs — for one thing, Rice can pound out more than 40 full push-ups and dips. Talk about a superpower!

How to Do the Workout

Rice's total-body strength circuit was developed by Thomas Tomlo, her trainer for the past three years, and is designed to quickly overload the muscles with a high number of reps and little rest. Each of the three circuits ends with the same series of push-ups, triceps dips, and crunches. Do it twice a week, along with three days of cardio minimum. (Try to make at least one of those cardio workouts an interval routine, alternating bursts of high and moderate intensity 5 or 6 times.)

What You'll Need

  • A set of moderate (5- to 8-pound) and heavy (10- to 12-pound) dumbbells
  • A sturdy chair or bench
  • A clock or watch with a second hand

This routine should take about 30 minutes.

Note: This workout is intense, so take the number of reps down or add more rest between circuits if you need to.

Circuit 1: 1. Squat/Curl

Targets: Biceps, core, glutes, quads

a. Stand with feet together, arms at sides, holding moderate weights. Squat down, bringing arms toward floor; as you stand up, curl weights toward shoulders. Lower and repeat; do 10-12 reps.

b. Stand up and do another 8-10 biceps curls.

c. Finish by doing 10-12 more full squats, then end with 20-25 pulse squats, moving only a few inches up and down from the lowest point in the squat. Rest 10-30 seconds.

Circuit 1: 2. Squat/Press

Targets: Shoulders, core, glutes, quads

a. Stand with your feet shoulder-distance apart, holding dumbbells in front of shoulders with palms facing out. Squat down; as you stand up, push weights together above head. Lower and repeat; do 10-12 reps.

b. Stand up and do another 8-10 shoulder presses.

c. Finish by doing 10-12 more full squats plus 20-25 pulse squats. Rest 10-30 seconds.

Circuit 1: 3. Squat/Front Raise

Targets: Shoulders, core, glutes, quads

a. Stand with feet more than shoulder-distance apart, arms in front of thighs holding dumbbells with palms down. Squat down, bringing weights forward to shoulder height. Lower and repeat; do 10-12 reps.

b. Stand up and do another 8-10 front raises.

c. Finish by doing 10-12 more full squats plus 20-25 pulse squats. Rest 10-30 seconds.

4. Push-Ups

Targets: Chest, shoulders, core, hips

Get on the floor and do as many full push-ups as you can for 60 seconds (if you need to, drop to your knees when you can no longer maintain form).

5. Triceps Dip

Targets: Triceps

Sit on chair with hands on seat next to hips, fingers facing forward and feet about 2-3 feet in front of chair. Lift hips off seat and slide forward. Bend elbows 90 degrees behind you and lower down, keeping back near the front edge of the seat. Repeat, doing as many dips as you can for 60 seconds.

6. Crunches

Targets: Abs

Lie faceup on floor, hands behind head with knees bent and feet down. Keeping a grapefruit-size space between chin and chest, crunch up, lifting head, neck, and shoulders off floor. Repeat, doing as many crunches as you can for 60 seconds.

Circuit 2: 1. Lunge/Curl

Targets: Biceps, core, glutes, quads, calves

a. Stand with feet hip-distance apart, hands at sides holding moderate dumbbells with palms facing body. Lunge forward with right foot, bending knees 90 degree and keeping right knee over right ankle; as you lunge forward, curl weights toward shoulders. Do 10-12 reps; repeat on left side.

b. Return to start and do 10-12 more biceps curls.

c. Lower arms to sides and do 10-15 stationary lunges (keeping right foot forward), followed by 20-25 pulses (lifting and lowering legs a few inches from lowest point); switch legs and repeat. Rest 10-30 seconds.

Circuit 2: 2. Lunge/Lateral Raise

Targets: Shoulders, core, glutes, quads, calves

a. Stand with feet hip-distance apart, hands at sides holding dumbbells at sides. Lunge forward with right foot; as you lunge, bring weights out to sides to shoulder height, keeping a slight bend in the elbow. Lower to start and repeat, do 6-8 reps; switch sides.

b. Return to start and do 8-10 lateral raises.

c. Lower arms to sides and do 10-15 stationary lunges, followed by 20-25 pulses; switch legs and repeat. Rest 10-30 seconds.

Circuit 2: 3. Lunge/Press

Targets: Shoulders, core, glutes, quads, calves

a. Stand with feet hip-distance apart, holding dumbbells in front of shoulders with palms facing out. Lunge forward with right foot; as you lunge, push weights together above head. Lower and repeat; do 10-12 reps.

b. Stand up and do another 8-10 shoulder presses.

c. Lower arms to sides and do 10-15 stationary lunges, followed by 20-25 pulses; switch legs and repeat. Rest 10-30 seconds.

4. Push-Ups

Targets: Chest, shoulders, core, hips

Get on the floor and do as many full push-ups as you can for 60 seconds (if you need to, drop to your knees when you can no longer maintain form).

5. Triceps Dip

Targets: Triceps

Sit on chair with hands on seat next to hips, fingers facing forward and feet about 2-3 feet in front of chair. Lift hips off seat and slide forward. Bend elbows 90 degrees behind you and lower down, keeping back near the front edge of the seat. Repeat, doing as many dips as you can for 60 seconds.

6. Crunches

Targets: Abs

Lie faceup on floor, hands behind head with knees bent and feet down. Keeping a grapefruit-size space between chin and chest, crunch up, lifting head, neck and shoulders off floor. Repeat, doing as many crunches as you can for 60 seconds.

Circuit 3: 1. Deadlift/Row

Targets: Back, glutes, hamstrings

a. Stand with feet together, arms facing sides holding heavier set of dumbbells. Hinge forward from hips as you push glutes back, keeping knees slightly bent, bringing dumbbells forward just under shoulders. Holding here, draw elbows up to ribs, keeping arms close to sides. Stand back up and repeat. Do 12-15 reps.

b. Hinge forward again from hips and do another 12-15 rows, keeping abs tight and head in line with spine.

c. Stand back up and bring weights in front of thighs. Do 25-30 deadlifts, bringing weights toward shins as you push glutes back (you should feel this mostly in your hamstrings). Rest 10-30 seconds.

Circuit 3: 2. Deadlift/Reverse Front Raise

Targets: Shoulders, triceps, glutes, hamstrings

a. Stand with feet shoulder-distance apart, arms at sides with palms facing behind you, holding lighter set of dumbbells. Hinge forward from hips as you push glutes back, keeping knees slightly bent. Holding here, bring arms behind you, pushing palms toward ceiling. Stand back up and repeat. Do 10-12 reps.

b. Hinge forward again from hips and do another 12-15 raises.

c. Stand back up and bring weights in front of thighs. Do 30-40 deadlifts. Rest 10-30 seconds.

Circuit 3: 3. Deadlift/Reverse Flye

Targets: Upper back, glutes, hamstrings

a. Stand with feet wider than shoulder-distance apart, arms in front of body with palms facing thighs, holding lighter set of dumbbells. Hinge forward from hips as you push glutes back, keeping knees slightly bent. Holding here, bend elbows 90 degrees out to sides and slightly behind you, bringing arms to shoulder height as you squeeze shoulder blades together. Stand back up and repeat. Do 12-15 reps.

b. Hinge forward again from hips and do another 12-15 raises.

c. Stand back up and bring weights in front of thighs. Do 30-40 deadlifts. Rest 10-30 seconds.

4. Push-Ups

Targets: Chest, shoulders, core, hips

Get on the floor and do as many full push-ups as you can for 60 seconds (if you need to, drop to your knees when you can no longer maintain form or eek out another rep).

5. Triceps Dip

Targets: Triceps

Sit on chair with hands on seat next to hips, fingers facing forward and feet about 2-3 feet in front of chair. Lift hips off seat and slide forward. Bend elbows 90 degrees behind you and lower down, keeping back near the front edge of the seat. Repeat, doing as many dips as you can for 60 seconds.

6. Crunches

Targets: Abs

Lie faceup on floor, hands behind head with knees bent and feet down. Keeping a grapefruit-size space between chin and chest, crunch up, lifting head, neck and shoulders off floor. Repeat, doing as many crunches as you can for 60 seconds.

Originally published on FitnessMagazine.com, March 2008.