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Tony Horton is a busy guy. Besides creating dozens of the top-selling training programs in the last decade, Horton has been living a secondary life, one of philanthropy and patriotism that has carried him around the globe to more than 50 military bases worldwide. He has worked with and worked out with some of America’s finest soldiers, and his new program, 22 Minute Hard Corps, brings those basic training experiences right into your home. The program is fast, efficient and tough, indicative of both the troops that inspired it and the program’s cast, which includes 40 U.S. veterans representing each branch of the military, as well as some of Horton’s own “veterans” — regulars you’ll recognize from P90X’s past.
How This Program Works
Both the workouts below are designed in a ladder-repetition structure with each exercise alternating between an increase and a decrease in reps.
Workout 1: Resistance
Plyo Lunge Thrust
Setup: Assume a wide-lunge stance with your weight evenly distributed between your feet. Hold a set of dumbbells at your shoulders with your elbows down, chest lifted.
Move: Bend both knees and lower to the ground until your knees come to 90 degrees. Extend your legs quickly, exploding off the ground and switching lead legs midair. Simultaneously extend your arms and press the dumbbells straight up overhead. Land softly, lower weights and immediately go into the next repetition.
Make it easier: Eliminate the shoulder press.
Make it harder: Go for height with your jumps.
Arm Balance Row
Setup: Start in plank with your hands on a set of dumbbells placed directly beneath your shoulders and your head, hips and heels in line.
Move: Pull one dumbbell straight up into your rib cage, then extend your arm toward the sky, opening your chest, shoulders and hips to the side as you come to full extension. Look up toward your hand and pause, then return to plank. Continue, alternating sides.
Make it easier: Put one knee down when in side plank.
Make it harder: Increase the weight and stack your feet in side plank.
Setup: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell near one shoulder.
Move: Kick your hips back and bend your knees to squat down, placing your free hand on the ground behind you. Hold the dumbbell steady near your shoulder as you lie all the way down onto the ground until you’re flat. Reverse the steps to stand back up, assisting with your hand to push yourself back up onto your feet and then pressing through your heels to come to a standing position. Do all reps with the dumbbell on one side before switching.
Make it easier: Use bodyweight only.
Make it harder: Increase resistance and/or speed.
Setup: Stand with your feet double hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in your right hand.
Move: Rotate to the left and drop into a lunge, driving the weight down toward your left foot, keeping your chest up and focus forward. Reverse the move to return to a standing position, then continue rotating to the right, rowing the weight up and behind you, using your free hand to help with rotation, elbow up. Do all reps on one side before switching.
Make it easier: Decrease the weight and range of motion.
Make it harder: Increase the weight and depth of the lunge.
Setup: Lie faceup with your arms extended along your sides and your legs raised an inch off the floor.
Move: Do small kicks with both legs, fluttering them up until they come over your hips, then flutter back down almost to the floor.
Make it easier: Start with your legs over your hips and flutter down to about 45 degrees.
Make it harder: Make bigger kicks with your legs and lower them closer to the ground.
Workout 2: Cardio
Setup: Get into a forearm plank with your elbows directly beneath your shoulders and your head, hips and heels in line.
Move: Crawl forward two steps using alternate elbows and feet, then hold plank as you jump your feet apart and then back together. Crawl backward two steps and repeat the leg jack to complete one repetition.
Make it easier: Do it on your hands instead of your forearms.
Make it harder: Take larger strides with your forearms/feet and increase your speed.
Setup: Crouch on the ground with your hands placed in front of you on the floor, hips low, heels down, knees bent and chest lifted.
Move: Reach your hands to the right, then pull your body to the side two “steps.” Reverse direction for another two “steps.” Continue, alternating sides.
Make it easier: Move slowly and keep the lateral movements small.
Make it harder: Increase your lateral range of motion and increase your speed.
Setup: Get into plank with your hands directly beneath your shoulders and your head, hips and heels in line.
Move: Bend your elbows and lower completely to the floor so you’re lying belly down. Roll 360 degrees along the floor like a log, then once you come belly down, again press back up into plank. Repeat, alternating sides.
Make it easier: Lower your knees before bending your elbows and lowering to the floor.
Make it harder: Move with speed and pop up into each plank quickly.
Knee Drop Lunge
Setup: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees bent in a half-squat, and lace your fingers behind your head, elbows flared.
Move: One knee at a time, lower into a kneeling position, keeping your chest lifted. Reverse the steps to return to the half-squat position. Continue, alternating sides.
Make it easier: Put your hands on your hips and stand up completely between reps.
Make it harder: Add a weight plate behind your head and increase your speed.
Setup: Lie faceup with your arms extended along your sides and your legs hovering an inch off the floor.
Move: Raise your legs over your hips and then lift your hips off the floor and twist to the side, reaching your toes straight up for the sky. Lower to the start and continue, alternating sides.
Make it easier: Keep your knees bent and your pelvic tilt minimal.
Make it harder: Tilt your pelvis as much as possible and keep your legs straight.
The Man Behind the Workout
Oxygen reached out to Tony Horton to get the inside scoop on his new program, his connection to the military and the workout he created exclusively for Oxygen readers.
Q: You’ve been going to military bases and teaching workouts for a while. What motivated you to connect with our military as an instructor?
My father served as a tank commander at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and then Schofield Barracks on Oahu, Hawaii. Unbeknownst to me, commanders like Col. Steven Shepro were requiring the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq to do P90X to stay sharp mentally, physically and emotionally. After Shepro’s tour in the Middle East, he was transferred to Andrew’s AFB outside of Washington, D.C. He contacted my cousin David, a lobbyist in Washington, and asked if I would come to Andrews and do a workout for the troops. It was my very first encounter training members of the military, and I loved it. During that trip, I met with Armed Forces Entertainment at the Pentagon, and they set up my first military tour in Italy. The rest is history.
Q: Are these actually moves that the troops do in basic training?
What we did in 22 Minute Hard Corps is combine the cadence-driven pace of military training with my functional-fitness expertise, bringing new life into the tried-and-true methods of the armed forces to create a comprehensive, calorie-scorching, total-body workout with each routine.
Q: Why 22 minutes?
Originally, the program was designed to be 20 minutes, but I asked if we could lengthen it by two minutes — partially because 22 is my favorite number but also because a quick one-minute warm-up and cool-down were needed.
Q: What was it like shooting on location for the videos?
The sets were really special — the deck of the USS Iowa, various military bases, an airline hangar. On those sets when the sun was hot, the vets were a phenomenal group to work with. They made the production feel easy in some uncomfortable conditions. Wonderful attitudes, great energy, true professionals all around.
Q: Tell us about the program.
The program is one 22-minute workout a day, six days a week for eight weeks. You alternate between total-body cardio and total-body resistance routines, with each workout made up of three rounds with varying rep combinations. What I have designed here for Oxygen has stayed true to that structure, but I have chosen specific moves exclusively for the Oxygen reader and put them into one resistance and one cardio workout.
Q: What kind of warm-up do you recommend?
Anything to increase core temperature and get you ready to work hard — and of course a cool-down moving at a slower pace and some static stretching to wrap things up.