Paleo diets are all the rage these days but exercising like our distant ancestors also has great benefits. Whether you're lifting heavy things to build your hut or build your biceps, research supports the perks of lifting as heavy as you can handle for short sets. You'll increase your strength and your contribution to the gene pool.
Try this primal workout from Mark's Daily Apple: Grab a weighted object (two dumbbells, sandbag, barbell, kettlebell) and do not put it down until you have completed 3 full cycles of the workout below. Do 1 set of 6 reps for every exercise, and then repeat the entire circuit two more times.
6 Overhead presses
6 Bent-over rows
You can take a break in between each cycle, but you may find that you just want to power through since you can't put down the weight.
Don't let the small movements and light weights fool you. The high reps in this ballet-inspired workout will make you feel the burn while you sculpt lean muscle and improve your balance at the same time.
Grab a pair of light weights (3-5 lbs) and stand next to a chair or barre. Repeat the following sequence twice.
50 plie squats in first position (heels together, toes out)
50 plie squats in second position (heels wider that hip-width apart, toes out)
50 overhead shoulder pulses
50 biceps curls
50 triceps kickbacks
50 leg raises to the front (25/leg)
50 leg raises to the back (25/leg)
Why the name? Prisoners only have a small cell to work with, and while you may never be in the exact same setting (hopefully), sometimes you need a workout that hits every muscle group without needing a lot of space or equipment. Pushups and squats may not be the most exciting moves, but there's a reason they're staples in almost every workout: They work!
Complete this circuit as many times as you can in 15 minutes to burn fat and build lean muscle fast!
10 regular pushups
10 lunges (on each leg)
10 narrow (triceps) pushups
This workout is part of her build-a-butt plan because of the awesome shape and definition it gives your backside. Alternating squats and lunges and grounded and plyometric moves keeps all of your leg muscles engaged while offering enough variety to take your mind off the burning sensation!
Complete the full sequence twice, resting just enough between sets to catch your breath.
50 alternating forward lunges
50 jump squats
50 jumping lunges
10 jump squats
The simple design of this workout can be deceptive (It's hard!). By combining these two power moves, you'll be able rest one muscle group while fatiguing the other without taking a break.
Start by doing 1 rep of each exercise. On the second set, do 2 reps of each exercise. Continue this pattern until you've done 10 sets, and then come back down the pyramid until you're back to 1 rep.
1. Pull-ups (jumping pull-ups, assisted pull-ups, or lat pull-downs, depending on your fitness level)
2. Burpees with a pushup and a jump at the top.
Plyometrics refer to any move where both of your feet leave the ground at the same time. While these intense exercises aren't for everyone (skip them if you have knee, hip, back, or other injuries), they amp up the intensity of your workout like nothing else can. You'll be soaked in sweat long before your 15 minutes are up!
Do each exercise for 1 minute, moving from one to the next without rest in between. After you finish the last move, rest for 1 minute and repeat the circuit 2 more times, 3 times total.
Burpees with a pushup
Nothing beats jumping rope for ease and accessibility. Plus, research shows that intense interval training like this workout burns more fat than steady-state cardio and increases your metabolism for up to 48 hours after your workout is over. When you add the strength moves, using your own body weight for resistance, you've got a killer total-body routine—not bad for a 15-minute investment!
1. Jump rope for 1 minute
2. Hang the rope over a tree, railing, or other stationary object at shoulder height or higher and use your body weight to do:
15 biceps curls
3. Jump rope for 1 minute
4. Secure the rope to a solid base again and use your body weight to do:
15 triceps extensions
15 lat pull-downs
5. Jump rope for 1minute
6. Finish with 10 CrossFit double unders
Kettlebells have become the workout du jour for a good reason: The swings amp up your heart rate while the power moves engage every muscle in your body, resulting in a workout that's as effective as it is fast.
Choose a kettlebell you are comfortable swinging and try this circuit 2-3 times. Do each move for 40 seconds, resting for 20 seconds between moves. Complete the entire circuit 2-3 times.
You'll notice the cardio burn first during this short-but-intense kickboxing circuit, but thanks to the punching and kicking drills, you'll feel the burn in your upper back, lats, quads, and even calves the next day.
Use a heavy bag if you have one available. If not, ask a friend to hold focus mitts/pads for you or simply punch and kick the air. Do each exercise for 50 seconds as hard as you can, rest 10 seconds, then move on to the next exercise. Go through the entire circuit once.
Alternating front kicks
Alternating cross-body punches
Alternating side kicks
Alternating round-house kicks
Jab-cross-hook (switching your lead hand every 10 reps)
Alternating knee raises
Low hook, high hook (switching hands every 10 reps)
Alternating round-house kicks, changing levels 3 times (low, medium, high) in quick succession
Sprint training is powerful medicine. Studies conducted by Izumi Tabata found that short, intense sprints (by "intense" we mean "run as if the zombie apocalypse is upon you") offer benefits like increased aerobic capacity, fat burning, and production of human growth hormone—the closest thing to the fountain of youth that scientists have been able to find. Try this killer cardio blast:
Sprint for 1 minute
Walk/jog for 1 minute
Sprint on an incline for 1 minute
Walk/jog for 1 minute
Repeat the circuit 3 more times (4 times total), cutting the walk time in half every time.