Mixing up your workouts is great for breaking through a plateau or avoiding one altogether. In fact, constantly changing your workouts weekly— and slightly every day— will keep your body guessing and will prevent your muscles from getting used to any given workout.
“Train smart and train safe, and always keep your body guessing,” explains IFBB Bikini Pro Jessica Paxon. “Don’t get stuck in a rut because your body will stop responding to your training. That is why a boot camp workout is so great! If you add it in once or twice a week it will shock your body, challenge you, and keep your body guessing.”
Jessica’s boot camp is a mix of exercises grouped together into what’s known as “giant sets.” A giant set is three to five exercises performed back-to-back with no rest in between. Oftentimes the sum of each exercise will result in a full-body grouping. For example, you may have one exercise for the lower body, one for upper, one for core and a high-intensity plyometric move or jump. There are no set-in-stone rules to putting together a giant set— you can really put together exercises you like best or create workouts to focus on upper body or lower body splits.
“This workout is great because it’s an all-over body workout plus cardio— it’s the best of everything!” says Jessica, who uses this workout as often as possible. She says it will definitely help burn fat and increase your cardiovascular health. “It’s a total-body workout, so you’ll be hitting every muscle group. On top of that, you’re getting your cardio in at the same time so it’s very efficient on many levels,” says Jessica. “This workout is fun and challenging. It will go by quick because there are so many different exercises and you keep moving the entire time.”
Jessica recommends doing this workout two to four times per week depending upon your current workout split and your goals. “If you train one body part a day, you could add this in once a week (maybe twice). But if you don’t split up your body parts you could do this workout three times a week, maybe four, with rest days in between.” You can do this workout anywhere for the most part; you’ll just need a bench and some dumbbells.
Begin in standing position with feet about shoulder-width apart. Quickly drop down to the floor, place hands on floor and throw your legs behind you to land in push-up position. Use your abs to pull your legs up towards your chest and stand up quickly. Repeat.
Place hands on outer edges of core board or on the floor. Place your feet out behind you with your feet together. Keep your back straight and core tight throughout the movement. Slowly lower your body to about 3-5 inches from the floor with your elbows out to the side. Push up to starting position. If this is too difficult, you may drop to your knees and perform the movement exactly the same from there.
With both hands and feet on the floor, bring one leg up toward your chest and tap the floor. Quickly move that foot back to starting position and bring the opposite leg up to the chest and tap the floor. Imagine doing high knees but on the floor with hands placed firmly on the ground below your shoulders. Move quickly from leg to leg.
Squat/Kettle bell Front Raise
Standing in squat position, hold the kettlebell or dumbbells in front of you between your legs. Slowly perform a squat. Remember to keep your chest out and back straight. On the ascent, use your momentum to lift the dumbbells up to about shoulder level in a front raise movement. Control the weight back to starting position while moving into the next rep.
Pop Squats on to Step
Place step or low bench perpendicular to you in front of you. Stand over the step with one leg on either side of the step. Squat down and jump up on to the step with feet landing together on step. Repeat quickly.
Dips on Bench
Place a bench behind you. Sit on the bench and place hands on the bench at your sides with your fingers curling down the front of the bench. Move your feet forward so that your butt is hanging off the bench. Slowly lower your arms so that your elbows bend to about 90 degrees. Be sure to keep your elbows back and not out to the sides. Push your body up using your triceps. Repeat.
Place a low bench or step in front of you. Keep feet about shoulder-width apart and cross your arms at your chest or place hands on your hips. Jump on to the bench from your heels and then back down fluidly. Repeat. Try to land light on your feet.
Bent Over Rows
Using dumbbells or a straight barbell, hold the weight in front of you about shoulder-width apart, maybe a little wider. Stand with feet just wider than shoulder-width apart. Bend at the knees slightly, bend at the waist forward, being sure to keep your back completely straight with no curve whatsoever. Hold the weight down in front of you and use your back to row the weight up toward your lower abdomen. Imagine pinching your shoulder blades together while pulling the weight to your lower abs. Slowly lower the weight and repeat.
Walking lunges (weighted)
Hold dumbbells at your sides or place a straight bar across your shoulders. Step forward and lunge down. Remember to keep your chest out and back straight throughout the exercise. Keeping your core tight will help you perform this move correctly. Alternate legs and “walk” lunges across the room.
Toe Taps on Bench
Place a low bench or step in front of you. Place arms crossed at chest or hands on hips. Lift your foot to tap your toe on the edge of the step and quickly alternate between legs using a slight jump to move fast. Repeat for reps.
21’s with a Barbell or Dumbbell
Hold barbell or dumbbell with palms facing up in front of you. Curl the weight half way up for 7 reps (from the bottom of the movement to the middle), then curl the weight from the middle of the movement to the top for 7 reps, then curl the weight the entire range of motion for 7 reps. That is equivalent to one set. Always remember to keep your chest out, shoulders back and core tight throughout this exercise.
Place feet just wider than shoulder-width apart. Place hands crossed at chest. Squat down and jump up quickly. Land light on your feet and repeat. Be sure to stick your butt out and imagine you’re looking for a bench behind you when squatting. Use your heels to push up in to the jump. Repeat for reps.