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Build a dancer's body

Eleven years ago, Shanit Bar, a Tier 3+ trainer at Sports Club New York, tore her ACL. “I wasn’t able to exercise the way I had before,” she says—plyometrics were off the table. “As a former gymnast and a ballet dancer, the thought of not moving was terrifying.” 

As her body healed, she had to find a way to challenge herself without risking injury. And so her current methodology was born: full-body, dance-based workouts that use light weights and combinations that maximize calorie burn. 

The routines Bar came up with were so effective that she stuck with this training approach even after making a full recovery, slowly adding plyometrics back in. “My program is designed to keep the body guessing, and creativity is a key component,” she says. “Basic movements are always performed throughout, but variables such as sequence and time change.”

Bar used those guidelines to create the workout below. In it, you focus on one side of the body at a time, training those muscles to fatigue before performing the same set of exercises on the opposite side. “The time-under-tension sequences bring you into the fat-burning zone and focus on sculpting,” she explains. “Meanwhile, the plyometrics in between spike the heart rate and challenge your endurance.” 

Working in different heart rate zones is necessary for progress. It requires the heart to constantly adjust, which makes it more efficient, Bar says. The routine also results in the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) effect, or the afterburn effect, so you continue burning calories for 24 to 48 hours after you finish.

To get the benefits, perform 2 to 3 rounds of the below workout twice per week. For optimal results, use weights up to 5 pounds and take as little rest as possible. Bar recommends warming up with a 10-minute power walk at 3 to 5 percent incline. 

To do it: 
  • Perform move 1

  • Perform moves 2 through 5 (left side) 

  • Perform move 6

  • Perform moves 2 through 5 (right side)

  • Perform move 7

  • Perform move 8

  • Perform move 9 (right side, then left side)

Move 1: Squat punches

Stand with feet together holding two light dumbbells at chin height, elbows by your sides. Simultaneously jump your feet out wider than shoulder-width, lower into a squat, and punch each arm toward the ground one time, then jump back to start. That’s one rep. Continue for 1 minute.

Move 2: Curtsy squat with ballet arms

Stand with the right leg out to the side holding two light dumbbells in each hand, palms facing away from you. Lower into a curtsy squat, moving the right leg behind you and to the left. At the same time, perform a bicep curl and then extend each arm out to the side. Reverse the motion to return to start. That’s one rep. Complete 16 to 20 reps.

Move 3: Curtsy squat pulse with arm circles

Lower into a curtsy squat with the left foot in front and the right foot behind you, a light dumbbell in each hand, and both arms extended out to your sides. Simultaneously perform a squat pulse and an arm circle, moving both arms in unison. That’s one rep. Complete 20 to 30 reps.

Move 4: Leg raise with press 

Stand with feet together, biceps parallel to the ground, elbows bent at 90 degrees, a light dumbbell in each hand, and palms facing toward you. Simultaneously raise the left leg out to the side, keeping it straight, and perform a shoulder press, rotating the arms so the palms face forward at the top. Reverse the motion to return to start. That’s one rep. Complete 20 to 30 reps.

Move 5: Lunge to knee tuck with bicep curl

Stand with feet together, a light dumbbell in each hand, left arm by your side, and right arm bent with the dumbbell near your chin, and palms facing toward you. Lower into a forward lunge, with the left leg forward and right leg back, and switch arm positions, with the right arm straight by your side and the left arm bent with the dumbbell near your chin. Return to standing (switching arm positions) and drive the left knee up, then lower into a forward lunge (switching arm positions once more). Return to start. That’s one rep. Complete 16 reps.

Move 6: High knees with shoulder press

Stand with feet together holding two light dumbbells at chin height, elbows by your sides. Simultaneously perform high knees and shoulder presses on opposite sides, so that when the right leg is raised the left arm is overhead, and vice versa. Continue for 45 seconds.

Move 7: Squat with arabesque and tricep kickback

Stand with feet at shoulder-width and arms by your sides, holding two light dumbbells. Simultaneously lower into a squat and perform a bicep curl. As you return to standing, extend both arms behind you and kick the right leg backward, then lower into another squat with bicep curl. Repeat on the opposite leg. Continue, alternating legs, for 1 minute.

Move 8: Donkey kick to plyo lunge

Stand with feet together and arms by your sides. Lower both hands to the ground, shoulder-width apart, and kick both legs up and behind you, keeping core engaged and supporting your weight on your hands. As soon as your feet hit the ground, immediately move into a switch lunge, first with the right leg forward, then with the left leg forward. Use your arms for momentum and balance. Continue for 1 minute.

Move 9: Leg raise with press 

Start in a modified side plank with the left forearm and left leg resting on the ground, knees bent, and a light dumbbell in the right hand. Simultaneously kick the right leg up until it’s straight and press the dumbbell overhead. Reverse the motion to return to start. That’s one rep. Complete 15 reps, then switch sides and repeat.