If you’re strapped for time but still looking to break a sweat, celebrity trainer Erin Oprea has just the workout for you.
The Nashville-based author of The 4×4 Diet and trainer to Carrie Underwood and Kelsea Ballerini, recently shared a three-move strength training circuit that will challenge your entire body. The best part? You can do it at home in just 25 minutes.
You can check it out, via @erinoprea, here:
“It’s quick, effective, and can be done anywhere,” Oprea tells SELF of the challenging, no-frills circuit. Its main benefit is that it works a huge amount of muscles in the lower body, Oprea explains, including the inner thighs, outer thighs, hamstrings, quads, gluteus maximus (biggest butt muscle), and the gluteus medius (the small muscle on the outer side of your butt that supports the hip and rotational movement of the thigh). It also works your shoulders and engages your core, she says.
Though it’s relatively quick (one round will take you about seven minutes) this workout is challenging, Oprea says. And you’ll definitely feel the burn. That’s because all of the movements involve contracting your muscles and not fully releasing the position until you complete all of the reps—which ends up being about one to two minutes of non-stop work for each move.
On top of that, because all three movements are compound movements (meaning they combine multiple exercises into one), you’ll be working several different muscle groups at once. This makes the moves even more challenging and as a result, you’ll probably notice your heart rate climb as you complete the reps, turning this circuit into a sneaky cardio workout.
Because the circuit is so tough, it makes a good standalone workout, says Oprea. You don’t even need the exact equipment Oprea uses in her video—the moves can be easily modified using items you have at home. “It’s all about improvising,” she says. (More on those substitutions below.)
Here’s how to do the three-move circuit:
For a full 25-minute workout, do the following circuit three times, resting for two minutes in between each.
Elevated Curtsy Lunge to Lateral Raise
Oprea uses an elevated step to perform these lunges, but you can do this exercise at the bottom of your staircase at home, or even on the ground (which will be a slightly easier, still effective version of the move).
- Grab a set of 3- to 12-pound dumbbells and hold one in each hand. If you don’t have dumbbells, you can use another pair of moderately heavy objects, like water bottles, says Oprea.
- Stand on top of a step with your feet shoulder-width apart, your back straight, your glutes and core engaged, and your shoulders relaxed. Hold the weights at your sides.
- Lift your left foot up to meet your right half while bending your left knee, squeezing your glutes and core, and pressing through your right heel to balance on your right leg. This is the starting position.
- From here, raise your arms straight up and out from your sides until your arms are at shoulder level. As you do so, maintain a slight bend in your elbows and keep your shoulders relaxed, says Oprea. Don’t hunch them up toward your ears.
- Pause for a moment and then lower your arms back down to your sides.
- From here, step your left foot diagonally behind you in a curtsy position, bending both knees to lower your body into a lunge.
- Pause for a moment at the bottom of the lunge position and then press through your right heel and engage your glutes and core to return to the starting position. As you do so, keep your right knee slightly bent.
- This is 1 rep. Do 12 to 15 reps and then switch sides for another 12 to 15 reps.
Think of this compound movement as having two distinct components, says Oprea. You should fully finish your curtsy lunge before beginning the lateral raise, and vice versa. By separating the elements of this move, you’ll ensure the correct muscle groups are powering each portion without outside help. Otherwise, if you started the lateral raise as you were standing up from the lunge, the momentum from your lower half could help aid the lateral raise and thus reduce the demand on your shoulders, Oprea explains.
If you have trouble balancing as you lunge and/or perform the raises, drop one of your weights and lightly rest your non-weighted hand against the back of a chair or on the wall. To regress the move, fully stand up in between each rep. To make it more challenging, use a heavier weight once you’re comfortable doing the movement properly first, says Oprea.
Reverse Lunge to Shoulder Press
- Stand on the ground with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Grab a dumbbell or weighted object with your left hand—Oprea recommends something between 5 to 20 pounds—and bend your left elbow so that it’s pointing down toward the floor and the weight is resting at shoulder level. Rest your right hand on your hip.
- Lift your left foot off the floor and step back about 2 feet, landing on the ball of your foot and keeping your heel off the floor. Bend both knees until your right quad and left shin are parallel to the floor. Your torso should be leaning slightly forward so your back is flat. Your right knee should be above your right foot and your butt and core should be engaged.
- From this position, raise your left hand directly overhead, pressing the weight up until your arm is straight. Pause for a moment and then lower the weight back to shoulder-level.
- Then, press through your right heel, squeeze your glutes, and engage your core to stand back up. Instead of placing your left foot back on the floor, keep your left leg bent so that your foot is off the floor and your knee is in front of your body. You should be balancing completely on your right leg.
- This is 1 rep. Do 12 to 15 reps, then switch sides for another 12 to 15 reps.
As with the previous move, if you have trouble balancing as you lunge, lightly rest your non-weighted hand against the back of a chair or on the wall.
Sumo Squat to Upright Row
- Stand up straight with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Angle your toes slightly away from your body.
- Grab the same weighted object you used in the previous move and grasp it firmly in your left hand, holding it down and in front of your body with your palm facing in. Place your right hand on your hip.
- Keeping your chest lifted, back straight, core tight, and weight in your heels, bend your knees and push your butt back into a squat.
- Squeeze your glutes, engage your quads, and press through your heels to stand halfway up. From here, bend your left elbow to lift the weight to shoulder height. Your left elbow should point out to the side. Pause for a moment, and then slowly lower the weight back down.
- This is 1 rep. Without standing up from your half-squat stance, lower back down into a full squat and perform 12 to 15 more reps. Then, without a break, switch arms and perform another 12 to 15 reps.
The goal with this move is to never fully stand up between each rep, says Oprea, as this will really challenge your leg muscles, especially your inner thighs. That said, holding a squat position for that long is no easy feat, so it’s more than OK to take a small break as you switch arms and/or in between reps on the same arm. Also, as you perform the upright rows, keep your shoulders down and back as much as possible so that they’re not hunched up by your ears.
Lastly, be sure to keep your core engaged as you do every move in this circuit. As Oprea notes in the caption, a strong midsection is your main source of stability throughout these moves.
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