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Lose the Baby Weight Fast: Toning Circuit Workout

  • Ericka McConnell

    Total-Body Tone-Up

    Sure, you love being a mom, but you're more than ready to lose the thicker thighs and sagging belly of pregnancy. To the rescue: Our eight-week strength and cardio circuit routine, developed by fitness expert (and mother of two) Tracey Mallett, creator of the Super Body Bootcamp DVDs. We had more than a dozen new moms test it. The best part? Mallett (that's her rockin' body modeling the moves) developed the routine to be efficient, quick and flexible enough to fit into even the day of even the most time-pressed mom.

    Warm up (two minutes)
    Climb up and down stairs or march in place.

  • The Program: How It Works


    3 days a week on nonconsecutive days.

    What you'll need: A set of 5- or 8-pound dumbbells.

    • If you have 15 minutes: Do the Total-Body Tone-Up Circuit
    • If you have 30 minutes: Do the Total-Body Tone-Up Circuit plus the Bonus Belly-Flattening Routine
    • If you have 45 minutes: Do the Total-Body Tone-Up Circuit, the Bonus Belly-Flattening Routine, plus 15 minutes of your cardio of choice


    • 3 days a week, minimum of 30 minutes; either the same day or a different day as the strength routine
    • Do what you love — try power walking/jogging alone or with the stroller, using the elliptical machine, doing a cardio dance DVD, etc.
    • Include interval training in two of these cardio workouts.
    • If you have more than 30 minutes, go for longer at a moderate pace (about a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10).
  • Dorit Thies

    Standing One-Leg Flye

    • Targets: Upper back, shoulders, abs, glutes, quads
    • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, holding dumbbells at sides.
    • Extend left leg behind you, hinging upper body forward from the hips; keep arms extended in front of chest, palms facing each other.
    • Exhale and bring arms out to sides, focusing on drawing shoulder blades together.
    • Lower to start and repeat.
    • Do 5 reps on right leg; switch sides.
  • Dorit Thies

    Incline Push-Up with Leg Extension

    Target chest, arms, abs, glutes, hamstrings

    • Place hands shoulder-width apart on corners of a stable chair or step, legs extended behind you in a full push-up position. Inhale and bend elbows to lower chest.
    • Exhale as you straighten elbows.
    • At the top of the push-up, lift right leg off floor to hip height; hold for 5 seconds, and lower.
    • Repeat push-up leg-lift combo on left side. Continue, alternating legs, for a total of 10 reps. (To make it easier, keep knees on floor and extend leg behind you at the top of each push-up.)
  • Dorit Thies

    Squat with Single-Leg Arabesque

    Targets: Arms, shoulders, glutes, quads, hamstrings

    • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart in a half squat, arms at sides holding dumbbells.
    • Shift body weight to right leg, bending knee further, and extend left leg behind you about 6 inches off the floor.
    • At the same time, lift arms in front to shoulder height.
    • Return to start position and repeat on opposite side.
    • Continue, alternating legs for a total of 16 reps.

    Cardio interval 1 (two minutes): Shuffle from side to side (one minute). Then march or jog in place (one minute).

  • Dorit Thies

    Hamstring Curl with Triceps Extension

    Targets: Triceps, abs, hamstrings

    • Balance on right leg with left leg extended behind you about 1 foot off the floor; hold dumbbells with palms facing each other.
    • Lean upper body slightly forward and extend arms behind you.
    • Bend elbows, bringing hands toward sides, while also bending left knee to draw left foot toward butt.
    • Do 8 reps; switch legs.
  • Dorit Thies

    External Rotation and Plie Squat

    Targets: Rotator cuff, glutes, quads, hamstrings, inner thighs

    • Stand with heels together and toes turned out, forming a small V with your feet.
    • Bend elbows and cross forearms in front of body with palms facing up.
    • Step left foot out to the side 1 to 2 feet and squat down, keeping knees aligned with toes.
    • At the same time, open arms out to sides, keeping elbows tight against waist.
    • Return to start position; repeat on right side.
    • Do 15 reps per side.
  • Dorit Thies

    Plank with Row

    Targets: Shoulders, chest, abs, mid to upper back

    • Begin in a modified push-up, holding dumbbells in each hand placed shoulder-width apart on the floor, knees down.
    • Raise left elbow toward rib cage, keeping arm close to side.
    • Do 10 reps, switch arms and repeat.

    Cardio interval 2 (two minutes): "Skip rope" with an imaginary jump rope (one minute). Then shuffle from side to side (one minute).

  • Dorit Thies

    Bonus Belly-Flattening Routine

    Got a pooch problem? Try these five moves to tighten your tummy.

    Butterfly chest lift

    Targets: Abs

    • Lie faceup on floor with knees bent, soles of feet together, hands behind head.
    • Contract abs and lift head, neck, and shoulders off the floor, reaching arms toward feet.
    • Return hands to head and lower to start.
    • Do 10 to 15 reps.
  • Dorit Thies

    Rotation Chest Lift with Leg Lift

    Targets: Upper back, obliques

    • Lie faceup with feet flat on floor and hands behind head.
    • Lift head, neck and shoulders off floor, bringing right shoulder toward left knee; keep right foot on floor.
    • Lower to start and repeat on right side. Do 10 to 15 reps, alternating sides.
  • Dorit Thies

    Toe Dip

    Targets: Abs

  • Lie face up with hands on floor behind head, and knees bent 90 degrees over hips.
  • Lift head, neck and shoulders off the floor.
  • Draw abs in as you lower left foot toward floor, as if dipping toes into water.
  • Switch legs, keeping head, neck and shoulders lifted.
  • Do 10 to 15 reps, alternating sides. (To make it easier, keep head on floor and arms at sides throughout.)
  • Dorit Thies

    Side Leg Lift with Beat

    Targets: Obliques, glutes, inner thighs

    • Lie on right side with hips stacked, legs straight and slightly curved in front of torso, head resting on right upper arm.
    • Touch heels together and turn toes out.
    • Lift both legs about 6 inches, pause, then lower 1 to 2 inches without touching floor.
    • Do 10 reps.
    • Lift both legs 6 inches off the floor, then raise top leg up and down, keeping feet in a V position.
    • Do 10 reps.
    • Move bottom leg down and up to meet top leg; do 10 reps.
    • Switch sides and repeat.
  • Dorit Thies

    Forearm Side Plank

    Targets: Shoulders, chest, abs, legs

    • Lie on your left side, forearm on floor and elbow bent 90 degrees, directly under elbow.
    • Extend legs with both feet slightly in front of body, right foot crossed over left.
    • Lift body off floor, maintaining a straight line from head to heels.
    • Extend right arm toward the ceiling. Hold 20 seconds, working up to 1 minute.
    • Switch sides and repeat.
  • Fat-Burning Cardio Plan

    No babysitter? No problem! Do this interval power walking routine while pushing the stroller — it's one of the best ways to burn more fat in less time, says Mallett. If you're just starting out, stick to flatter surfaces for the first two weeks, then gradually change your course to incorporate some hills. Follow your rate of perceived exertion (RPE), or how hard you're working on a scale of 1 to 10.

    Warm up by marching or walking easy — RPE 2 (5 minutes)

    Increase the pace — RPE 3-4 (5 minutes)

    Take bigger and faster strides — RPE 4-5 (3 minutes)

    Slow down slightly — RPE 3-4 (5 minutes)

    Increase pace again, taking bigger and faster strides — RPE 4-5 (3 minutes)

    Slow down slightly — RPE 3-4 (5 minutes)

    Speed up as fast as you can — RPE 6-7 (1 minute)

    Cool down by walking at an easy pace — (3 minutes)

    Total time: 30 minutes

    Calories burned: 160

    Originally published in FITNESS magazine, August 2007.