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The Best Health Challenge strength workout

In the 2011 Best Health Challenge, participant Kelly Mathews got fit and toned with this one hour strength workout, created by personal trainer Bruce Krahn

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Kelly and Bruce

Build your strength

Do this strength workout on three non-consecutive days, and do a cardio workout on the other three days. Rest for one day each week. This is a tough workout; check with your doctor before starting any exercise program, and stay hydrated while exercising.

What you’ll need:

• a set of dumbbells (five to eight pounds)
• 1 resistance band
• 1 skipping rope
• 1 stability ball (55-65 centi-metres)
• 1 medicine ball that doesn’t bounce (10-15 pounds)

Bruce Krahn (pictured at left), author of The Fat Fighter Diet, designed two strength workouts-A and B-to keep things interesting (for workout B, check out the September 2011 issue of Best Health). “Kelly’s objective is weight loss and muscle tone, so she needs a variety of exercises that target all muscle groups and burn calories,” he says.

Perform each exercise in circuit style-one after another-with no rest between exercises, using five- to eight-pound dumbbells. (Kelly, who is not new to working out, started with eight pounds.) Repeat the whole circuit two or three times. To finish, do 20 minutes of steady cardiovascular exercise: biking or a brisk walk outside. The whole workout, including warm-up, the nine exercises, cardio and stretching, should take about one hour.

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1. Hamstring curl on ball

1. Hamstring curl on ball

Works: Hamstrings, glutes, calves

Lie on the floor; place heels on stability ball, legs extended, hips and bum off the floor (A). Dig heels into ball, lift hips higher, squeeze glutes, and pull ball toward you (B). Slowly lower glutes down, extending legs to start position. Do 12 to 15 reps.

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2. Lunge row

2. Lunge row

Works: Quads, glutes, thighs, hip extensors, hamstrings, back

Fix band around a stable pole or stair banister, and grip a handle in each hand. Step right foot far behind you and come up on the ball of that foot. Draw elbows behind torso, squeezing shoulder blades together (A). Drop right knee, shin parallel with the ground, bending front leg, and straighten arms (B). Come back up to starting position and repeat, then switch legs. Do 10 to 12 reps for each leg.

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3. Squat press

3. Squat press

Works: Quads, glutes, shoulders, hamstrings, upper back

Take a dumbbell in each hand and place them at shoulder height, with elbows bent, knuckles facing ceiling. Squat down, pushing hips back (A). ?As you come up, squeeze glutes together, pushing weights up into a shoulder press (B). Come down into a squat, lowering weights to shoulders (A). “Push the floor away from you as you come up,” Bruce says. Do eight to 10 reps.

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4. Romanian dead lift

4. Romanian dead lift

Works: Hamstrings, glutes, core, lower back

Stand holding dumbbells against front of thighs (A). Push hips back while bending at waist and lower weights down legs as far as you can go without bending your lower back (B). Keep your shoulders down and retracted so you don’t round your back. Slowly rise up to starting position. Do eight to 10 reps.

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5. Burpee

5. Burpee

Works: Cardio, core, chest, arms

Standing tall, squat down and place both hands by feet. Jump feet back, or step one leg back at a time, into a plank position (A). Pause, then hop feet back in (B), quickly jumping straight up in the air (C). Do 15 to 20 reps.

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6. Ball slam

6. Ball slam

Works: Cardio, glutes, core

Standing up, lift medicine ball (that doesn’t bounce) with both hands above your head (A). Slam it into the ground. Squat down to grab it (B), then lift ball overhead while you return to standing. Repeat as many times as possible in 30 seconds.

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Finish your workout strong

7. Push-up

Works: Chest, core, triceps

On your hands and toes (beginners can start on knees, working up to toes), place hands directly under shoulders. Pull abs in and lower body down, bending at the elbows. Push body up, pause with arms straight to complete one rep. Do eight to 10 reps.

8. Mountain climbers

Works: Core, chest, shoulders

Get into push-up position, keeping your back flat and abs tight. Draw right knee across body toward left elbow and into your chest, then push it back out to starting position. Repeat with left leg; alternate legs in a rapid motion. Do as many as possible in 30 seconds.

9. Walking lunge with bicep curl

Works: Quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, biceps

With one dumbbell in each hand, lunge right leg forward, keeping knee in line with ankle. Drop left knee down so shin is parallel with ground and perform bicep curl, bringing weights up to shoulders. Lower weights as you straighten arms and legs. Bring left leg through into a lunge and repeat. Walk across room for 10 lunges/curls, and return for 10 lunges/curls.

Do this circuit two or three times in total. Then finish with our cool-down stretch routine.


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