Be Well Workout of the Week: The Decrease-Increase Ladder Challenge
For this week’s workout, you’re going to start with a set of four exercises at 25 reps each, then the next set will be four different exercises for 20 reps, and the next set will be 15 reps, and the last one will be 10 reps. Between each set of exercises, for a little bit more of a challenge, hop on the treadmill, elliptical, or bike, and do a one-minute sprint before moving on to the next set.
Here’s where it gets tough: Once you finish the last set, you’re going to climb back up the ladder so to speak, and do each set one more time, finishing with 25 reps of the first four exercises you did. Got it? Good. Happy sweating people!
The Decrease-Increase Ladder Challenge
Go through each set once, then go through each set again, starting from set 4 and working up to set 1.
Set 1, do 25 reps of each exercise
Alternating front raise
Mountain climbers (try them with your hands on a physioball for more of a challenge)
1 minute sprint
Set 2, do 20 reps of each exercise
1 minute sprint
Set 3, do 15 reps of each exercise
1 minute sprint
Set 4, do 10 reps of each exercise
Ski jumpers (do 10 on each side)
Alternating overhead press
1 minute sprint
Explanation of exercises
Squat jumps: Stand with feet hip-width apart and perform a squat, dropping your rear until your knees are just behind your toes and your hamstrings are parallel to the floor. As you stand, propel yourself upwards and jump. Return to standing and squat again.
Alternating front raise: Stand with feet hip width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Hands are resting on front of the quads with palms facing towards you. One at a time, raise the left arm to shoulder height and lower, then raise and lower the right arm.
Bicycle crunch: Lie on your back in sit-up position: feet on floor, knees bent, hands behind the head to support the neck. Lift your feet off the floor, extend your left leg to straighten, and twist your torso as you touch your left elbow to right knee. Draw the left leg in as you push the right leg out, and twist the other direction, touching your right elbow to left knee. Repeat by alternating sides in a fluid motion.
Mountain climbers: Get in plank position. Alternating legs, bring your knee into the chest, keeping your upper body strong. Extend leg and switch.
Kettlebell swings: Standing with feet about hip-width apart, hold a kettlebell in front of you both both hands. Bend your knees into a squat, swinging the kettlebell back through your legs as you drop down and forward to about shoulder height as you stand. Repeat in a fluid motion.
Push-up: Start lying face down with your chest on the floor, with hands facing forward and palms down in line with your shoulders; elbows should be pointing back. Push up until arms are extended (the inside of the elbow should be facing forward) and drop back down.
Bent-over rows: Hold a dumbbell in your hand with feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent. Bend forward from the waist, keeping your spine straight and letting your hand fall forward in front of you. Pull the dumbbell back (you should feel like you’re rowing a boat), squeezing your shoulder blade. Do 10 on the left then switch and do 10 on the right. For more of a challenge, try a plank row in a push ups position with your hands on the weights.)
Ab twists: Sit on the floor with knees bent, heels pressing into the ground. Lean back slightly and use your abs to twist side to side.
Deadlifts with dumbbells: Hold dumbbells with arms extended down so they’re resting on your thighs, feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping shoulders back and abs tight (and without locking your knees), bend at the hips and let the weights lower towards the floor, going as far as you can without bending your knees too much. Drive your heels in to the floor and stand to return to the starting position.
Tricep dips: Using a bench or a chair, step your legs out a few feet in front of your body. Steady your hands on the bench or chair and, with your back just a few inches from your fingertips, lower your body to the ground. Then raise your body back to the starting position by pushing into the bench or chair. Repeat.
Reverse fly: Stand with feet hip-width apart and hinge forward at the waist. Holding a weight in each hand (palms facing towards each other), keep your arms slightly bent and using your back, squeeze your shoulder blades together, lifting your hands to the side.
Ski jumpers: Start in a skier’s stance (like a squat, but bent forward at the waist slightly). Using your arms for momentum, jump up and to the left, landing on both feet. Jump to the right. Repeat.
Burpee: Just like an up-down in football. Put your hands on the ground, jump your feet out behind you so you’re in push-up position, lower to the ground, bring your feet back in, and stand up.
Lunge jump: Position yourself in a lunge. Jump upwards switching the front and back legs. Once landed, repeat. For more of a challenge, hold the weights you used for your reverse fly during your jumps.
Alternating overhead press: Holding free weights in each hand, stand with the weights at your shoulders (elbows forming 90 degrees beside your head), hips tucked under, and abs very strong. Pressing your left hand to the ceiling, straightening your arm, and return to the starting position. Repeat the motion on the right.
Audrey McKenna Hasse is the owner of A.M.Fit, a personal training and healthy consultation business on the Main Line. You’ll find her workouts every week right here on Be Well Philly.
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