Whoever saw me in high school wouldn’t bet a penny that one day I’d be able to run, lift weights, play tennis and fully devote 2.5 hours of daily training. I was the kind of slender girl who was pretty much afraid of even attending an aerobics class.

Everything changed when my father suddenly passed away because of a heart attack. I found that lifting weights made me stronger – not just physically but mentally – and running and sweating helped me endure anything. I found relief and a way to find solutions to my problems by pounding the pavement.

Get More in Less Time

When I thinking about my favorite exercises, I remembered how weak I was in comparison to where I am now. I can compete with men at the gym! I feel such a sense of accomplishment.

I don’t have any “secret” exercises but after many years of training and studying, I know that exercises that apply for the foundation of many sports are the best ones to accomplish almost any goal: strength, definition, muscle endurance, power and overall athleticism.

These exercises work every muscle of the body, which taxes the anaerobic system. Depending on the sets, reps and weights, these can work the aerobic system as well. So if you want to get ripped and strong in no time, do this circuit.

One More Advantage

When working out at low-mild intensity we burn primarily fat, but as we increase the intensity we burn glucose (carbohydrates) as well. This will allow you burn more calories overall in less time. But to accomplish this, you have to select the right exercises.

In a study from University of Copenhagen, when trainees were asked to perform a single joint exercise – even when they increased the intensity as they progressed – they didn’t show the shift in fuel from fat to glucose. 

What does this means to you? It means they burned less calories or that they would have had to work out much longer to achieve the same results with multi-joint exercises.

My Favorite Workout

Circuit means to perform one exercise after another without rest. Resting should be at the end of each circuit.

Beginners: Do one circuit of 15 reps until you progress.

Intermediate/ advanced: Do two three-circuits with 90 seconds rest at the end of each circuit.

To get ripped: Mix it up! One week, perform heavy weights for 10-12 reps.  Next week, perform between 12-15 reps, and the following week, do two circuits of 10-12 and burn off the last circuit by doing 15 reps. 

Work the weight accordingly to the reps, but make sure that the last rep always is tough.

Do this routine two or three time a weeks on alternating days.

Here are the exercises:

- Pull-ups: Controlling your body, pull your chest to the bar.

- Push-ups: Keep your body straight with your hands just wider than shoulder width.

- Kettlebell swings: Use  your hips (not your arms) to thrust the kettlebell up.

- Back roll over on the physioball to push-ups: Extend the back while keeping the back straight, hips aligned and core tight. Roll into a push-up position. Do a push up and extend all the way back. This is really hard.

- Burpee: This is the classic squat thrust with a jump added at the end of the movement.

- Medicine ball throw: Throw the medicine ball down hard and catch it right away to keep the tension high throughout this exercise.

- Deadlift touching the bench: Grip the bar with a straight back (look straight ahead or slightly up), knees bent with your rear end touching the bench and pull the bar up straight up to a standing position.

- Squats touching the bench: Sit back to squat until your rear touches the bench. Push the weight up through your heels.

Marta Montenegro inspires people to live healthy lives by giving them the tools and strength to find one’s inner athlete through her personal website MartaMontenegro.com. She created SOBeFiT, a national fitness magazine for men and women, and the Montenegro Method DVD workout series – a program she designed for getting results in just 21 days by exercising 21 minutes a day . Marta is a strength and conditioning coach and serves as an adjunct professor of exercise physiology at Florida International University.

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Marta Montenegro is an exercise physiologist, certified strength and conditioning coach and master trainer, who teaches as an adjunct professor at Florida International University. Marta has developed her own system of exercises used by professional athletes. Her personal website, martamontenegro.com, combines fitness, nutrition and health tips, exercise routines, recipes and the latest news to help you change your life but not your lifestyle. She was the founder of nationally awarded SOBeFiT magazine and the fitness DVD series Montenegro Method.

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