Nothing gets your heart rate up like plyometrics - high-intensity moves in which your muscle is stretched, then contracted rapidly to produce explosive force. (Think jump squats or bounding.) And while plyo isn't right for everyone - check out some reasons why - most active women can use this method to maximize their workout potential.
To do: Tackle each exercise in the order shown, following the level-specific guidelines below.
Beginners: Do 6 reps of each move and rest for 15 seconds between exercises. Don't repeat the circuit.
Intermediate: Do 10 reps of each move and rest 10 to 15 seconds between exercises. Repeat the circuit once, taking 1 to 2 minutes of rest between rounds.
Advanced: Perform up to 15 reps of each exercise, resting 10 to 15 seconds in between. After the last exercise, rest for up to 3 minutes, then repeat twice.
Note: Due to its high-impact motions, don't try this routine any more than three times per week, and always leave at least 48 hours between sessions.
One-Legged Forward Hop
Target Muscles: gluteus maximus, hamstrings, gastrocnemius
Set Up: Stand on one leg with your arms at your sides.
Action: Bend your standing knee, then extend your leg forcefully, pressing through the ball of your foot to propel yourself upward and forward. Land on the ball of your foot, then immediately repeat. When you have completed your reps, switch legs.
Target Muscles: quadriceps, gluteus maximus, gastrocnemius
Set Up: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms extended at your sides.
Action: Reach your arms behind you as you sink halfway into a squat, then extend your legs and leap into the air, bringing your knees up towards your chest in midair. Straighten your legs, land softly on the balls of your feet and repeat immediately.
Target Muscles: gluteus maximus, hamstrings, deltoids, abdominals
Set Up: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your sides.
Action: Bend your knees to squat low, placing your hands on the ground in front of your feet [A]. Next, jump your feet behind you to bring your body into a straight-armed plank position [B]. Hop your feet back towards your hands, then explode into the air, reaching up with your arms to help you gain height [C]. Land with soft knees, and immediately repeat.
Target Muscles: gluteus maximus, hamstrings, leg abductors Set Up: Start by standing with your feet close together and your arms at your sides.
Action: Lower into a half-squat [A], then jump upward as you open your legs and arms out the sides to bring your body into a star shape [B]. Land softly, with your legs and arms back at the starting position. Repeat.
Box Ski Hop
Target Muscles: gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, hamstrings, gastrocnemius, obliques
Set Up: Stand to the side of a small box or block, with your arms at your sides.
Action: Bend your knees slightly [A], then hop over and to the other side of the box [B]. Land lightly on the balls of your feet and immediately reverse to return to the start [C] - that's one rep. Repeat for your entire set.