PUSH-UP: Start in upper push-up position: palms flat on the ground right under your shoulders, legs extended behind you and lifted off the ground so you're holding your body up in a straight line on your hands and toes. Bend your elbows and lower your body towards the floor until your chest touches or almost touches the ground. Exhale as you push your body back up to the starting position.

SQUAT: Hold medium- to heavy-weight dumbbells (8- to 15-lbs for most women; 12- to 20-lbs for most men) in each hand. Shifting your weight into your heels, inhale as you bend your knees and lower your hips down into a squat. Exhale as you straighten your legs, standing back up to the starting position.

BENT-OVER ROW: Keep the dumbbells in your hands and hinge forward at the hips, keeping your back flat until your torso is approximately parallel to the ground. Look at the ground slightly in front of you to maintain a straight line from the crown of your head through your hips. Hold the dumbbells with your palms facing each other, and your arms slightly bent and directly below your shoulders. As you exhale, pull the dumbbells upward, leading with your elbows towards the ceiling. Inhale as you lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.

CRUNCH (BICYCLE - Not shown in photo): Put the dumbbells down and lie down on your mat. Lift your feet off the ground so that your knees are directly above your hips and your lower legs are parallel to the ground. Place the tips of your fingers behind your head. Lift your head, upper back, and shoulder blades off the floor. Exhale as you 1) twist your torso to the right, 2) bring your left elbow and right knee together, and 3) extend your left leg forward (toes pointed). Inhale as you rotate back to the center position. Do the same bicycling movement to the left (twisting your torso to the left, bringing your right below to meet your left knee, and extending your right leg forward). Continue alternating bicycle crunches to the left and right.

During the push-up, you should feel your chest, shoulders, triceps (the back of your upper arms), and abdominals working. To maintain correct form, lead with your chest and keep your abdominals strong as you lower towards the ground. During the squat, you should feel your quadriceps (thighs), hamstrings (backs of your thighs), and gluteals (butt) working. As you lower into the squat, keep your weight in your heels to make sure your knees do not go past your toes. During the row, you should feel your middle back working. To maintain correct form, make sure you engage your abdominals to keep a flat back in the bent-over position. During the bicycle crunch, you will feel all parts of your abdominals (lower, middle, obliques (sides)) working. To maintain correct form, keep your hips squared towards the ceiling and continue to focus on keeping your elbows outward as you twist. You should feel like you cannot do another repetition at the end of each exercise during each set. If you are able to easily continue any of the exercises, try one of the progressions below.

Do the push-ups on your knees or on an incline (hands on a step); do the squats without weight or with your back against a stability ball (see stability ball squat); do the rows in a staggered stance or decrease the weight of your dumbbells; and do an oblique twist with one foot on the ground.

If you are able to do 2 additional repetitions on any of the exercises, consider challenging yourself. To make the push-ups harder add repetitions; do them on a decline; or do push-ups with one foot lifted off of the ground. To make the squat harder, increase the weight of the body bar. To make the row more challenging, increase the weight of the dumbbells, use resistance bands instead, or balance on one foot. To make the bicycle crunch harder, keep the extended foot closer to the ground or increase the number of repetitions.


Goal: Run a 5K

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  1. Push-Up
  2. Squat
  3. Bent-Over Row
  4. Crunch (Bicycle)

Do 10 to 20 Push-ups; 15 to 30 Squats; 10 to 20 Rows; and 20 to 40 Bicycle Crunches (twisting once to each side equals one repetition). Do more repetitions of each exercise if you are using lighter weight, and fewer repetitions if you are using heavier weight. Repeat the circuit/workout 3 to 5 times.

Medium- to heavy-weight dumbbells (8- to 15-lbs for most women; 12- to 20-lbs for most men); or a body bar (15- to 24-lbs);

two medium- to heavy-weight dumbbells (8- to 15-lbs for most women, 12- to 20-lbs for most men); body bar (15- to 24-lbs); mat

Modify the row (use a staggered stance, with one foot in front of the other) and the bicycle crunches if you have low back problems.