By Sara Frenza
Photography by James Patrick
Makeup by Denise Black
Building a sculpted, hourglass physique could be less time consuming than you might think. Read on to discover two tried-and-true strategies for achieving your best body, on a time budget. Plus, the ultimate workout for your lower body.
Building your best possible physique doesn’t have to be uber complicated or require hours in the gym. With all the (mis)information out there, it can seem pretty complex. But getting a great burn within a time constraint ultimately comes down to two things: compound movements and metabolic finishers.
Compound movement is, in a nutshell, any exercise that incorporates multiple joints to work multiple muscle groups versus just one (an isolation movement that uses one joint at a time). Examples of compound movements are deadlifts, squats, lunges, push press or push jerk, and so on.
Not only are compound exercises efficient timewise (you work more than one muscle in a given period of time), but they also help to increase testosterone and growth hormone production, which help with muscle building to achieve that lean hourglass body. Plus, compound exercises also increase heart rate more than isolation exercises, helping you burn more calories during training.
Feel the Afterburn
Then, there are your metabolic finishers. Excellent for jacking up heart rate and increasing calories burned post-workout thanks to the afterburn effect, HIIT is usually what defines a metabolic finisher.
The afterburn effect, more technically called EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption), is, as per NASM, “…the result of an elevation in oxygen consumption and metabolism (Resting Energy Expenditure), which occurs after exercise as the body recovers, repairs, and returns to its pre-exercise state. This can happen for up to 24 hours.”
Scientific evidence shows HIIT activates the afterburn effect more than steady state cardio. Plus, metabolic finishers are also just that much more efficient—there’s really no comparison to steady state cardio timewise. Why do 45 minutes on the elliptical when you could complete ten minutes of HIIT at the end of your workout?
Now, let’s get you onto the gym floor STAT and start burning some serious calories with the ultimate glute-focused compound exercise and metabolic finisher training session.
10 reps x 4 sets (60 second rest between sets)
- With the barbell resting on your upper back, start with a shoulder-width stance
- Push the knees out and keep your weight throughout your foot (but mostly in the heels)
- Sit back and down to squat to parallel or just below
- Repeat for reps
10 reps x 4 sets (60 second rest between sets)
A Romanian deadlift differs from a regular deadlift in that the starting point is elevated off the ground, around the mid-shin area.
- With your core braced, lift the barbell off the ground to about mid-shin
- Ready yourself with your weight dispersed throughout the foot and activate your hamstrings and glutes
- Stand up straight with the barbell while keeping it as close as possible to your body
- Slowly lower and repeat for reps.
Perform one exercise back-to-back with the other, with minimal or no rest in-between the superset.
12 reps x 4 sets (45 second rest period between full sets)
- With shoulder blades resting on a bench, lay on the floor with a barbell on your hips
- Explosively lift the barbell until parallel with the floor, squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement
- Slowly lower down to return to the start position and repeat
12 reps per side x 4 sets (45 second rest period between full sets)
- Face the cable machine and at the lowest cable setting, loop the end of the cable around your ankle using an ankle strap
- With weight slightly shifted forward and feet set at about shoulder-width, hold onto the cable machine
- Extend the leg with the cable back straight, keeping your core and quad braced
- Bring your leg forward to the starting position and repeat for reps
- Switch legs and repeat.
Perform each exercise back-to-back with the other, with minimal or no rest in-between the circuit.
30 seconds rest between each circuit.
Weighted Frog Pump
- Lie on your back on a mat with feet together and knees apart
- With a dumbbell resting in your lap, activate your glutes to extend your hips up towards the ceiling
- Release back down and repeat.
Band 3-Way Kickback
15 reps per leg
- Stand facing a rack or post you can hold onto for support
- Wrap a thick band around your thighs just above the knees
- With your core and legs braced, kick your leg back, to the side, and then to the front leading with the knee
- Repeat for reps on each leg.
- Adopt an athletic stance, with a kettlebell in both hands, palms facing down
- Hinge back at the hips, pushing your butt back to the wall behind you
- You should feel tension in your hamstrings (if your glutes are getting tired, you’re squatting too much—kettlebell swings are a hinging exercise)
- Accelerate forward by squeezing your glutes and raise the kettlebell to eye height
- Repeat fluidly for reps.