Whether you’re looking to turn a weakness into a strength, or you just want bigger pecs, we have a training circuit for you. Aaron Guy and Derek Jameson, trainers at the new Phoenix Effect gym in Los Angeles, created these effective routines to hit all your gym goals, while targeting your chest, shoulder, abs, back, and legs, and cranking calorie burn and endurance.
You don’t need machines to build stronger pecs. “This dumbbell workout targets every angle of the chest so you work everything in a short period of time,” says Jameson. Perform three consecutive rounds of 12-rep sets with 15 to 30 seconds rest between each set.
Dumbbell Push-Ups: Get in a plank position, holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing in. Perform a push-up.
Dumbbell Floor Decline Chest Fly: Lie faceup on floor with knees bent, feet flat on floor and close to your glutes, arms extended straight out to the side, and holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms up. Press hips toward ceiling, and then pull dumbbells up and in over chest, keeping a slight bend at the elbow.
Dumbbell Elevated Feet Push-Ups: Get in plank position, with feet raised on chair or bench behind you, holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms under shoulders, abs engaged. Lower your chest toward the floor, keeping elbows close to body and back flat, then push back up.
Dumbbell Floor Chest Press: Lie faceup on floor with knees bent, feet flat on the floor, holding a dumbbell in each hand, arms extended out to sides with elbows slightly bent. Press the dumbbells in and up through chest, then return to start, tapping elbows on floor.
If You Want Stronger Shoulders
“You want to hit the shoulder from three angles: anterior, posterior and medial,” says Guy. “Most men tend to target just the front and side — anterior and medial — but proper attention must be given to all of the muscles in order to get stronger and be free from joint pain.” This routine does just that. After the warm-up, do 10 reps of each exercise, moving quickly from one to the next. Perform three rounds, with 60 seconds rest between each.
Wall angels sitting with your back and butt against wall, arms in goal-post position flush against wall. Slide your arms overhead, then lower elbows back to shoulder level. Do 15 reps.
Barbell Push Press: Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a barbell in front of your shoulders, palms facing up. Squat slightly, pushing your hips back, then extend your knees and hips up to press the bar overhead.
Dumbbell Front Raise: Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand, and palms facing thighs. Keeping your shoulders down and arms straight, raise the right arm up to shoulder height in front of you. Lower, switch sides, and repeat until each arm has 10 reps.
Dumbbell Lateral Raise: Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand, arms by your sides, palms facing in. Keeping your shoulders down and arms straight, raise your right arms out to sides to shoulder level. Lower, switch sides, and repeat until each arm has 10 reps.
Dumbbell V-Raise: Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand, arms by sides, palms facing in. Keeping the shoulders down and arms straight, lift both dumbbells at a diagonal in front of you, forming a V shape with your arms, to shoulder height.
Dumbbell Rear Fly: Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing in. Bend your knees slightly and hinge forward from hips to a 45-degree angle, keeping your back flat. Raise both arms up and out to sides at shoulder level with straight arms.
If You Want to Burn a Ton of Calories
“The secret to burning more calories is doing compound movements that incorporate total body activation,” says Guy. This non-stop, high-intensity workout will also kick off a metabolic burn that will last the entire day.
For lungs and muscles that can last, you want to do exercises in higher rep sets, and make sure they incorporate cardio, says Jameson. Perform the moves in the following two circuits back-to-back, and take 30 seconds of rest between circuits 1 and 2. Once you’ve completed both, rest two minutes, and do the whole thing again.
Squat Jumps: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, arms by your sides. Squat, driving the hips back and lowering until your thighs are parallel to the ground, then push through heels to jump straight up. Land softly back in a squat position. Do 15 reps.
Mountain Climbers: Get in plank position with straight arms and hands slightly outside your shoulders. Bring the right knee in toward your chest, tap your toes on floor, and extend the leg back behind you. Immediately switch legs and repeat. Do 10 reps on each side.
Plank to Push-Up: Start in plank position with forearms on the floor, walk hands up to full plank and then perform a push-up. Do 10 reps.
Lateral Bounds: Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, arms by your sides. Keeping the chest up and core engaged, leap out to the side with your left leg (to the right), landing on your right foot, then repeat to right. Continue alternating for 10 reps on each side.
Straddle Plank Tucks: Imagine doing a tuck jump, but in plank position. Start in a straight-arm plank with feet wider than your hips. Jump your knees in toward the chest, and immediately thrust feet back to starting position before they can touch the ground. Maintaining a flat back throughout. Do 20 reps.
Burpees: Stand with feet together, arms by sides. Drop into plank position, perform a push-up, immediately pike your feet up toward the hands, and then jump straight up. Do 15 reps.
If You Want a Stronger Back
“Most people lack posterior chain strength, but it’s an important component in everything we do,” says Guy. This functional workout will balance out your body strength, but it’s also cosmetic. It creates a broader, stronger back and will lift and tighten weak, sagging glutes. Repeat the circuit three times.
10 jump lunges on each side
10 standing cable rows
20 prone swimmers kicks
10 kettlebell bent-over rows on each side
20 kettlebell overhead arm swings
5 incline dumbbell Y-T-A combos
Rest 2 minutes
Prone Swimmers Kicks: Lie facedown on floor with legs extended behind you, arms extended overhead. Lift opposite arm and leg straight up, then lower. Immediately switch sides and repeat, as if swimming.
Kettlebell Overhead Arm Swings: Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder width, toes slightly outward, and hang the kettlebell between your legs. Bend at the hips to push your butt backward while the kettlebell hangs loose in front. Snap hips forward. Don’t pull up the bell with your arms; stand up explosively and let it fly up on its own. On the backswing, let arms come flat against your torso with the bell between your legs.
Incline Dumbbell Y-T-A Combo: Laying chest-down on an incline bench, hold light dumbbells in each hand. Keeping your arms straight, bring the dumbbells up and out diagonally to form a Y with your body. Lower the weight then bring them up and straight to the side to make a T. Lower, and then bring them back diagonally and up to create an A. That’s one rep.
If You Want a Six-Pack
Rock-solid abs are built by working your entire core, not spending hours crunching up on a mat. “This quick circuit keeps you moving and engages your abs, obliques, back, hips, and glutes,” says Jameson. Perform three rounds with 30 seconds rest between each, and no rest between sets.
Pullover Tucks: Lie faceup on floor with arms extended overhead, legs extended and together in front of you. Lift legs a few inches off floor, and then tuck your knees in and raise hands overhead, lifting your upper body off the floor to touch your toes. Lower back to start. Do 15 reps.
Alternating Hip Drops: Hold a plank position on your forearms as you drop your hips to the right to tap the floor. Engage abs to rise back to start, and repeat on left. Continue alternating for 10 reps on each side.
Military Sit-Ups: Lie faceup on floor with knees bent, feet flat, arms crossed over chest, hands on opposite shoulders, and elbows pointed toward ceiling. Engage abs to sit up to touch elbows to knees, then lower slowly back to start. Do 15 reps.
Russian Twist: Sit on floor with knees bent, feet lifted two inches off the ground, and hands clasped together in front of your chest. Rotate your torso to right and tap floor beside you with right elbow; rotate back through center and repeat to left. Your feet shouldn’t move during the exercise. Do 10 reps on each side.
Fingers to Toes: Lie faceup on floor with legs extended toward ceiling, arms by sides. Engage core to reach up to touch fingertips to toes (or as close as possible), then lower slowly back to start. Do 15 reps.
If You Want Powerful Legs
You can target every muscle from the hips down, no machines needed. “This works the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves — all while keeping the body’s metabolism firing,” says Jameson. Perform three consecutive rounds with 30 seconds rest between each move, and no rest between rounds.
Dumbbell Walking Lunges: Stand with feet together, arms by sides, holding a heavy dumbbell in each hand. Lunge forward with the right foot, bending knees to 90 degrees. Switch legs and repeat, alternating sides for eight reps on each side.
Dumbbell Front Squats: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand, dumbbells resting on shoulders, and your bent elbows up in front of you. Drive the hips back to squat as low as possible while keeping your chest up and back flat. Press through heels to stand. Do 12 reps.
Weighted Bridges: Lie faceup on floor with knees bent, feet flat on floor, holding a dumbbell on top of each hip. Press through heels to drive hips as high as possible, hold one beat, then lower slowly back to start. Repeat for 15 reps.
Front-Loaded Side Lunges: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand, elbows bent in front of you, dumbbells resting on shoulders. Lunge to the left side with the left leg, pushing your hips behind you and keeping right leg straight, chest up. Return to start. Switch sides and repeat for 10 reps on each side.
Prone Hamstring Curls: Start in modified plank position with your arms straight, hands under shoulders, back flat, and knees resting on the floor. Hold a dumbbell between your feet and curl it toward your glutes. Slowly return to the start position. Do 12 reps.