This hard-hitting program from Julian Ho gives you the burn of a weight session without any gear.
While you can carve a tantalizingly toned body in less than a half hour, we’re here to tell you what you likely already know: To reap the rewards—increased calorie burn, strength, power, blissful endorphin high—truncated workouts must be insanely intense. So, we asked a team of Equinox trainers and group fitness instructors what they would do if they were given just 20 minutes to have at it. Here is the latest in the series.
The Pro: Julian Ho, a Toronto-based fitness coach who teaches eight signature Equinox classes, including METCON3, Precision Running, and ShockWave. An avid athlete, Ho rock climbs and runs ultramarathons.
The Clubs:Bay Street and Yorkville (Toronto, ON, Canada)
The Workout: Speed up your strengthening with giant sets—three or more exercises that target the same body part performed in a row. “Giant sets can magnify the intensity by increasing the duration your muscles spend under high tension,” says Ho. “That quickens the onset of muscle failure, so you get more results in less time.” And while you’re sculpting, you’ll also get the benefits of a conditioning session: “The tempo varies, which forces your metabolic system to keep adapting without burning out,” says Ho. Perform each exercise for 1 minute in order, without resting in between; then repeat the entire series once more. (Just starting out? Crank out each move for 45 seconds and rest for 15 seconds between exercises.) For best results, do the routine two to four times a week.
1. Prisoner Squat/Rear Lunge Combo: Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulders and place your hands behind your head; squat. Rise up, take a big step back with right foot, and lunge. Step forward to starting position and squat again. Rise up and then lunge back with left leg. Return to starting position and repeat. Continue at a medium tempo, alternating legs with each lunge.
2. Power Lunge: Stand with feet a stride’s length apart, right in front of left, and bend knees into a lunge. Jump up as you switch legs, landing in a lunge with left foot forward and right foot back. Continue as fast as possible, switching legs each time you jump.
3. Deep Olympic Squat: Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulders and raise arms overhead (as if you were holding a bar). Take 5 seconds to lower into a deep squat, then rise up and repeat.
4. Renegade Arm Extension: Get in plank position with hands under shoulders. Raise right arm to shoulder height in front of you with palm facing left. Lower right hand to starting position and repeat with left arm. Continue at a medium tempo, alternating arms.
5. Clapping Push-Up: Get in plank position (lower knees to floor if necessary). Bend elbows, lowering chest toward floor; push up explosively and clap your hands together before returning to starting position. Repeat as fast as possible.
6. Negative Push-Up:Get in plank position (lower knees to floor if necessary). Slowly bend elbows, taking 5 seconds to bring your chest toward the floor. Push up to starting position and repeat.
7. Lateral Skater: Stand with feet together, then jump to the left, landing on left foot as you tap right foot on the floor slightly behind you. Push off left foot as you jump to the right. Continue at a medium pace, bounding from side to side in a skating motion.
8. High Knees and Hot Feet: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and arms extended at sides. Hop up as you drive right knee toward your chest and bend left elbow (as if you were running). Immediately repeat on opposite side, raising left knee as you bend right elbow and extend left arm. Continue at a fast pace, alternating sides, for 30 seconds. Then stand with feet shoulder-width apart, bend knees and elbows, and quickly run in place (in a semi-squat position). Continue at a fast pace for 30 seconds.
9. Mount Everest Climber: Get in plank position with hands under shoulders. Jump right foot forward, bringing right knee toward your chest. Switch positions, extending right leg behind you as you bend left knee and bring left foot forward. Continue, alternating legs.
10. The Mission Impossible (X Plank and Skydiver):Get in plank position with your feet wide apart, then walk your hands out to the sides and slightly forward so your body forms an X. Hold for 10 seconds. Next, lie face down with arms extended over your head, palms facing the floor, and legs extended behind you. Raise your arms and legs as high as you can, then bring your arms out to your sides and behind you as you turn your palms toward the ceiling. Return to the starting position and repeat, keeping your arms and legs raised the entire time. Continue for 10 seconds. Repeat the sequence (X plank for 10 seconds and skydiver for 10 seconds) twice more.