Forget pounding the streets or attempting your own Tour de France, the best exercise to sculpt muscle and burn fat is weight training. It burns a significant amount of calories, even post-workout, thanks to the effort involved and it will lead to muscle growth, meaning that your metabolic rate will increase.
Also, the urban myth that ladies who lift will become huge, muscular and manlike just isn’t true, as your testosterone levels don’t support big muscle growth – you will simply achieve lean, toned, feminine curves.
• These are combination exercises, working several muscles simultaneously, so may need practice.
• Your target is three sets of 15 repetitions of each exercise with enough weight to fatigue the muscles.
• Warm up with around five minutes of cardio, moving your limbs through their range of motion.
• For best results, perform each exercise slowly, as this will recruit more muscle fibres.
• Never hold your breath; try to exhale on the exertion.
• Don’t perform this workout directly after eating and sip water as you go.
• Avoid possible dizziness by cooling down with around three minutes of gentle cardio.
Leg squat and arm throw
1. Stand tall, balancing on one leg and holding a dumbbell in the opposite hand.
2. Bend the supporting knee to lower down and at the same time lean the upper body forwards. As you do this, lift the dumbbell to the armpit.
3. On lowering the dumbbell, straighten the leg and return to standing, ensuring the knee doesn’t twist. Avoid rounding your shoulders.
4. After 15 repetitions, swap sides.
Leg deadlift and reverse fly
1. Stand with your feet together, holding dumbbells in each hand down by your side and keeping your elbows soft.
2. Lift one leg straight behind you, lower your upper body forwards and raise your arms out to the side. Keep both legs as straight as possible and your hips square to face the ground.
3. Reverse the motion to return to the start position, with your whole body moving as one. Make sure your abs are pulled in at all times to protect your spine and keep your neck relaxed. Aim for your upper body and raised leg to be parallel to the floor.
4. Alternate legs on each repetition.
Leg squat and diagonal lift
1. Stand on one leg with your knee bent, holding a dumbbell in the opposite hand on the outside of the knee.
2. As you straighten the leg, unhinge the upper body and lift the dumbbell up and out diagonally.
3. Slowly reverse the motion to return to the start position. Keep your arm almost straight, but not locked, throughout the lift and lower. Engage the core to protect the spine and help with balance and avoid rounding the shoulders.
4. After 15 repetitions, switch to the other arm and leg.
Squat and Arnold press
1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, dumbbells in your hands at shoulder level, palms facing inwards.
2. Bend your knees and push your bum behind to squat down, keeping the weight on your heels, not toes. At the same time, press the dumbbells up overhead, turning your palms to the front. The end position should be your arms extended, but not locked, out slightly in front of the line of your body.
3. Drive through your legs and glutes to stand and lower the dumbbells with control. There will be pressure on your lower back to arch so pull your abs in tight.
Press-up and side plank
1. Assume either the full pressup position or with your knees on the floor and your hands wider than your shoulders.
2. Bend the elbows out to the side to lower the chest to the floor, keeping your tummy tightly pulled in.
3. When pushing up, shift the weight to one arm and twist your torso to raise your free hand up to the sky.
4. Rotate to the centre, placing your free hand down and immediately drop into the next press-up. Maintain good alignment by trying to extend the top of your head away from your tailbone. Alternate sides on each repetition.
Fly and sit up
1. Lay on the floor with your knees bent, feet flat and the dumbbells held at arms-length out to the side.
2. Keeping your arms almost straight, lift the dumbbells in an arc motion to directly above the chest.
3. With your arms extended, now sit up and lift the dumbbells above your head.
4. Lower down under control, at the same time opening your arms to the start position. Ensure there are two motions on the up and one on the down.
Dumbbell swing up and back
1. Begin with your feet hip-width apart and a dumbbell in one hand down by your side.
2. Swing the dumbbell across your body and up to head height, pivoting on the ball of your back foot.
3. Lower the dumbbell with control and as you centre your feet, swing it up and back to the diagonal. Ensure the second part of the motion is not a swing up but a swing high and backwards. Your hips turn to the side on the first part but then must stay fixed to the front on the swing back.
Snatch and windmill
1. Start with your feet wide and a dumbbell held in one hand, down between your legs.
2. Leading with the elbow, lift the dumbbell and press it above your head.
3. Keeping it fixed overhead, lean to the opposite side, turning that foot out as you do so.
4. Return the foot to the centre, straighten up the body and lower the weight. Ensure the core is engaged at all times and the hips stay square to the front with no twisting. Swap hands and repeat on the other side.
Personal trainer: Dean Hodgkin (deanhodgkin.com)
Clothing: All clothing from We Are Handsome (wearehandsome.com) Trainers from Skechers (skechers.com)
Hair and makeup: Roisin Donaghy
Model: Danielle Holbrook, W Athletic
Studio: Cliqq Studios (cliqq.com)