You'll do three or more sets of the same exercise, starting with light resistance and high reps, then increasing the weight and decreasing the reps with each set. A full workout of pyramid sets can be tough (and time consuming), so start by working one upper-body and one lower-body exercise into the end of your workout, says Ballantyne. This way, you won't exhaust the key muscle groups you need to complete your regular routine.
Fat-trimming trick: Unlike other intense workouts that build strength, this technique emphasizes muscular endurance (the rate at which your body can continually produce force), which can increase your fat-burning rate.
Try it Holding a pair of dumbbells at your sides, step forward with your right foot and lower your body until your right knee is bent 90 degrees. Return to standing, and continue for a total of 15 reps. Repeat with the left leg, then rest for 20 seconds before doing the second set: 10 to 12 reps, using a slightly heavier weight. Rest, then increase the weight again and do six to eight reps.
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Fast-and-furious intervals—20 seconds of all-out effort followed by 10 seconds of rest—are repeated a total of eight times (for a grand total of four minutes). Researchers at McMaster University in Ontario found that exercising as hard as you can for short periods of time is as effective at improving muscle and metabolism as sweating it out longer at a lower intensity.
Fat-trimming trick: All-out effort keeps your heart rate zipping for the entire workout (even during the rests) and for hours after you kick off your sneakers. The end result? You burn extra calories.
Try it Bagshaw suggests this three-move sequence: Starting with exercise one, do as many reps as you can with proper form in 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, then continue for a total of eight intervals. Rest for two minutes, then go to exercise two and do eight intervals. Take another two-minute breather, then do eight intervals of exercise three.
1. Lunges with biceps curls: Holding dumbbells at your sides, step back and lower into a lunge, curling the weights up to your shoulders. Stand and repeat, alternating legs.
2. Squats with overhead presses: Hold dumbbells at shoulder height and lower into a squat. Press the dumbbells directly overhead as you stand.
3. Pushups: From a pushup position (or modified pushup position, with your knees on the ground), bend your elbows to lower your chest to the floor.
Work out at home or check out a fitness class!