Bellevue Club personal trainer Justin Ehling shares his simple yet highly effective program for a leaner, fitter, healthier body for the New Year. Add these six exercises into your weight-training routine to burn fat and build muscle.
With shins to the loaded barbell and feet approximately hip width apart, squeeze your glute muscles to encourage a neutral position in your pelvis. Hinge forward at the hip. Using an overhand grip, grab the bar, pull your chest tall and activate the upper back. Screw your feet into the ground, raise your hips and push your knees back until you feel tension in your hamstrings. Keep the bar close to your body as you squeeze your glutes and bring your hips through to the standing position. Do not lean back at the top of the movement. Return to the starting position by hinging forward at the hips, pushing your glutes back and slowly lowering the bar to the ground. Maintain a braced neutral spine throughout the movement.
> Suggested: Four sets of 10 to 15 repetitions (reps)
With your feet approximately hip width, start with dumbbells to your shoulders and elbows forward. Keep your chest and elbows up as you lower into a squat. Squat to a depth at which you can maintain good posture in the spine and keep your knees in line with your feet. Drive your elbows up as you press out of the squat. When you reach the top of your squat, use momentum to transition into an overhead press. Finish with arms fully extended, palms facing forward or inward. Lower the weights to the starting position and repeat, eventually stringing reps together in a continuous loop.
> Suggested: Four sets of 10 to 15 reps
3. Kettlebell Swing
Stand over the kettlebell with your feet about hip width. Pull your shoulders back and down. Squat and grip the kettlebell, and load your glutes and hamstrings. Initiate the swing by softening your knees and gliding your hips back. Swing the kettlebell as far back as possible without losing your posture. Drive your hips forward, firing the glutes and swinging the kettlebell to a position parallel to ground. Let the kettlebell swing back into position as you push your hips back to repeat the process.
> Suggested: Four sets of 10 to 15 reps
Set the flywheel resistance to a level where you can maintain a smooth, fluid motion. Take a wrapped overhand grip on the handle and start with your arms extended, chin vertical, shoulders back and hips loaded. Initiate the drive by extending your knees. Push all the way through, leaning back slightly at the end of the movement and pull the handle to your sternum. After a brief pause, extend your arms forward to clear your knees and return to the starting position by bending your knees and sliding forward. Repeat the cycle in a smooth and consistent manner. As you become comfortable with the technique, build up to more rapid, powerful strokes.
> Suggested reps: Warm up with 500 meters. Three sets of 500 meters with one-minute rests in between sets.
5. Battle Ropes
Pick up the ropes and take an athletic stance. Adjust resistance by moving closer (harder) or farther (easier) from the anchor point. Each battle rope exercise is slightly different. Experiment with a variety of movements to train more muscles and burn fat. There are limitless combinations, including waves, crossovers, slams, jumps, burpees, etc. Whatever you chose, execute with an active core.
> Suggested reps: Start by trying six intervals with 30 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest.
The above exercises all involve the core, but here are a few recommendations for sculpting your ideal midsection:
• Commit to training your core every time you hit the gym.
• Vary movements to train all the muscles.
• Use weighted exercises at lower reps to build size and shape.
• Alternate with non-weighted exercises at higher reps for toning and tightening.
> Get started with these classics: sit-ups, crunches, leg lifts, planks, v-ups, rotations, Supermans and bird dogs.
*A note about weights: All exercises should be performed with light weights at first. Slowly progress as technique is mastered.