Wild Thang Workout:
The 20-Minute, Fat-Crushing Circuit
By Jen Sinkler
Glance around most gyms and you’ll see people taking their exercise quite seriously. Or maybe more appropriately, they take themselves quite seriously. Solemn faces. Averted eyes. And if you like it that way, if the gym is your place to go inward, carry on.
But if you want your training time to feel more like playtime, try incorporating more ground-based movements and crawling patterns, especially with fat-loss workouts.
A bonus perk: Such cross-patterned (opposite-hand, opposite-foot) movements may even build new synapses in the brain, in effect making you smarter when you crawl around like a child. (It might sound crazy, but think about it’s still a basic movement pattern that most of us have abandoned since we were just one-year-old children.)
If you’re not sold on the mental aspect, do it for the muscular endurance you’ll build in your shoulders and upper back.
To be clear, this is not to say you’re cutting out the big weights — not a chance. Build circuits like these into your program one to three times a week. Below, I’ve laid out a quick, effective and enjoyable total-body circuit workout called “The Zoo.” Get ready to escape.
Time Allotted: 20 minutes, allowing for rest between circuits
Suggested Equipment: Two dumbbells and the urge to prowl
Instructions: Complete all rounds of each circuit before moving on to the next, working for 30 seconds and resting for 30 seconds. Take additional rest if needed (but try to take it at the bottom of the round).
Double Front Squat
- Assume a racked position with the dumbbells at shoulder height, your forearms vertical under the dumbbells.
- Initiate the squat by pushing your butt backward and bending your knees, keeping your torso upright and supporting the weight with your arms.
- Keep your knees in line with your toes as you lower yourself as far as you are comfortably able. (If it’s not very far, play with foot position, and try turning your toes slightly outward, but don’t force anything.)
- Again, keeping your knees in line with your feet, return to stand in the starting position and repeat.
- Squat low to the floor, keeping your arms in front of your body.
- Swing both arms over to one side and reach until you can plant your hands firmly on the floor.
- As your hands make contact with the floor, gently leap the same direction, landing softly, feet farther over than your hands.
- Keep traveling laterally, alternating the reach and hop portions of the movement.
Double Romanian Deadlift
- Stand tall and grasp two dumbbells so they hang down in front of you against your thighs.
- Keeping your chest up, hinge at the hips and allow the dumbbells to trail down the front of your legs, keeping them as close to your body as possible.
- When you reach the end of the range of motion — typically felt as a stretch in the hamstrings or a change in back position — reverse the movement and stand up.
- Stand tall and place a dumbbell between your feet in front of you so the handle is perpendicular to your feet.
- Keeping your back flat, hinge at the hips and bend your knees until you can reach the dumbbell handle.
- Gripping the dumbbell, explosively extend your hips. Use the power generated by your hip drive to lift the dumbbell. Keep the dumbbell close to your body as it rises, and pull only slightly with your arm.
- As the dumbbell passes your face level, extend and “punch” your arm upward to lock the weight out overhead. The weight should feel weightless for a moment at the top of the movement. If you are pressing out to complete the movement, use a lighter weight or explode more powerfully from the hips.
- Lower the dumbbell with control to the floor, and repeat for the desired number of repetitions before switching sides.
- Starting on your hands and knees, rise up onto your toes and tighten your core.
- At the same time, reach forward with your right hand and left foot and then return your hand and foot to the floor.
- Alternate hands and feet, always in opposites, in a crawling pattern for desired distance or time.
Get Better Faster
If you’re looking to amp up your conditioning in other creative but productive ways, check out Jen’s Lift Weights Faster, a complete guide of more than 130 workouts, 225 exercises, a video library, five challenge-workout videos, plus a dynamic warm-up routine. For more info, click HERE.
Jen Sinkler (www.jensinkler.com), RKC, PCC, PM, USAW, is a longtime fitness journalist who writes for national magazines such as Women’s Health and Men’s Health. A former member of the U.S. national women’s rugby team, she currently trains clients at The Movement Minneapolis.