Keeping it Simple

Working out demands enough energy…why complicate matters with elaborate routines? Top personal trainer Tom Holland has won our hearts with three little words: Keep it simple. “The flashy stuff may look great if you're trying to show off at the gym, but when you really want results, you've got to get down to business with simple, high-energy moves that get the job done," the fitness superstar said.

With more than 20 years experience training clients ranging from beginners to professional hockey players,  Holland has found that straightforward, easy-to-follow moves are the way to go. One of his favorite routines is called the Super Circuit—that's where you alternate fast-paced cardio intervals with muscle-toning strength exercises. According to Holland, it's a workout that gives you a lot of bang for your buck because you get your heart and lungs pumping, tone every muscle in your body and torch a ton of calories. Not only does it pay off, it only takes 20 to 45 minutes, three times a week. Not a bad investment of your time.

"You can do it even if you're just starting out or even if you're really fit and looking for something quick yet challenging," he says. His recommendation: Do this workout two to three times per week, alternating it with less intense choices such as walking, jogging, cycling or swimming. You'll burn at least 200 calories in 20 minutes, which gives a real boost to any weight loss program. And in just four weeks, you'll have a tighter, firmer, more sculpted body.

The Workout

You will need: Two to three sets of dumbbells, and a stopwatch or a clock or watch with a second hand. The workout will take you 20 to 45 minutes, depending on your level and the length of your warmup and cooldown. And depending on which level of workout you do, you'll burn between 200 and 440 calories per session.
Warm up: Do 3 to 5 minutes of easy cardio. Examples: Marching in place, jump rope without rope and super-slow jacks.
Workout: Alternate a cardio interval with one strength-training exercise. Take little or no rest in between cardio and weight-training intervals. Your goal is to keep your heart pumping, your body moving and the calories melting away.

  • Beginners: Do one round of the circuit, doing the version of the exercises aimed at your level. Do 1 minute of each cardio interval and 12 repetitions of each strength move.
  • Intermediates: Do one round of the circuit, doing the version of the exercises aimed at your level. Do 90 seconds of each cardio interval and 15 repetitions of each strength move. 
  • Advanced: Do two rounds of the circuit, doing the version of the exercises aimed at your level. Do 90 seconds of each cardio interval and 15 repetitions of each strength move.

Cooldown: Repeat warmup.

Cardio Intervals

Choose your level. For the cardio intervals of your Super Circuit, alternate between the three cardio choices.

Beginner

  • March in place—Lift your knees high and swing your arms.
  • No-arm jacks—With hands on hips, jump your feet out to the side in a wide straddle, then jump back. 
  • Standing climber—Stand tall, hands on hips. Shuffle your legs forward and back as wide as is comfortable, keeping your legs straight but keeping your knees "soft." If you need support, hold onto a chair.

Intermediate

  • Jog in place—Kick your heels back towards your buttocks and swing your arms.
  • Half jacks—Move your legs as in no-arm jacks, reaching arms out to sides up to shoulder height. 
  • Mountain climbers—Lean over and balance on palms and underside of toes. Shuffle your legs forward and back by bending and straightening your knees.

Advanced

  • Step kicks—Hold your arms up in front of your face. Rotate from the hip, and kick your right foot out in front of you to waist level. Alternate 4 right with 4 left kicks.
  • Full jacks—Move legs as in no-arm jacks, clapping your hands overhead. 
  • Squat thrusts—Bend forward, placing palms on floor. Then straighten your legs out behind you. Next, bend your knees and jump your feet in toward your hands. Finally, hop back up to standing.

Strength Moves
Choose your level. For the strength intervals of your Super Circuit, move from one exercise to the next in the order they're listed. If you are doing a second circuit, finish one full circuit, then start at the top.

Beginner

  • Half squat—Stand with feet hip-width apart, hands on hips. Bend your knees until your thighs are at 45 degrees with the floor.
  • Arm curls—Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms forward. Curl bells up to your shoulders. 
  • Dip lunge—Stand with hands on hips, legs straddled a stride length apart forward and back, right leg in front. Bend your knees until your right thigh is parallel with the floor, your left knee perpendicular. Do an equal number right and left. 
  • Shoulder press—Hold a dumbbell in each hand and raise bent elbows up to shoulder height, palms forward, dumbbells alongside your ears. Straighten your arms up overhead. 
  • Triceps pulse—Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms in, and stand with feet hip-width apart. Hinge forward at the hips. Straighten your arms out behind you and "pulse" your straight arms up and down about three inches. 
  • Half plié—Stand with feet six inches wider than hip-width apart, hands on hips. Bend your knees until your thighs are a few inches above parallel to floor. 
  • Back row—Hold a dumbbell in your right hand, palm in. Straddle your legs, right leg in front, bend your knees slightly; hinge forward from your hips and straighten your right arm down, place your left palm on your left thigh. Bend your right elbow to lift the dumbbell up to waist height. 
  • Slide crunch—Lie on floor with feet hip-width apart, arms on floor at your sides. Curl your head, neck and shoulders up off the floor as you slide your arms forward along the floor until your fingertips are alongside your knees.

Intermediate

  • Full squat—Same stance as half squat. Lower until your thighs are parallel with the floor.
  • Hammer curl—Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing in. Curl bells up to your shoulders. 
  • Dumbbell dip lunge—Hold a dumbbell in each hand, arms at sides, same stance and movement as dip lunge. 
  • Lateral raise—Hold a dumbbell in each hand, arms at sides, palms in, elbows "soft." Lift your arms up and out to the side to shoulder height. 
  • Kick back—Same stance as triceps pulse. Bend your elbows and lift them up to waist height. Straighten your arms out behind you, then lower them back to bent position. 
  • Plié—Same as half plié, but lower until your thighs are parallel to the floor. 
  • Rotated back row—Same as back row, but as you lift the dumbbell, rotate your forearm until your palm faces behind. 
  • Crunch—Lie on floor with feet hip-width apart, head cradled in hands, elbows rounded slightly inward. Curl your head, neck and shoulders up off the floor.

Advanced

  • Dumbbell squat—Hold a dumbbell in each hand, arms at your sides. Same move as full squat.
  • 21s—Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms forward. Curl 7 times up until your forearm is parallel with the floor, then curl the dumbbell up to your shoulder and do 7 curls down until your forearm is parallel with the floor, then do 7 full arm curls. 
  • Dumbbell lunge—Hold a dumbbell in each hand, arms at sides, feet hip-width apart. Step your right foot forward a stride's length and bend your knees until your right thigh is parallel to the floor and your left knee is perpendicular to it. Alternate left and right lunges. 
  • Front/lateral raise—Same as lateral raise stance. Lift dumbbells up and forward to shoulder height. Before lowering, straighten your arms out to the side at shoulder height. 
  • Kick back twist—Same stance as kick back except that you rotate your palms up as you straighten your arms. 
  • Dumbbell plié—Same as plié, but hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms in front of your waist, palms facing in. 
  • Rear fly—Hold a dumbbell in both hands and stand with feet hip-width apart. Hinge forward from your hips and straighten your arms down, aligned with shoulders, elbows "soft." Lift your arms up and out to your side to shoulder level. 
  • Double crunch—Same stance as basic crunch except lift your feet up so that your calves are parallel to the floor. As you crunch your upper body, bring your knees in toward your elbows.

You can visit Tom Holland at his TeamHolland personal training studio in Darien, Connecticut, or on the Web at TeamHolland.com. Check out his exercise video  series including the brand new Tom Holland's Total Body Workout II, a heart-pounding, energy-burning cardio circuit guaranteed to whip you into shape in just 20 minutes per session. You can also listen to Holland's new radio show, "Real Fitness with Tom Holland," on any channel that carries the Lifestyle Talk Radio Network or catch him on the weekend edition of Good Morning America.

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