Upper Body and Core Strength Builder Workout: New Year’s Challenge – Day 2

Hope you’re feeling strong and energized after your first day of this year’s New Year’s Challenge. Yesterday you focused more on your lower body, so today it’s all about those upper body and core moves with an upper body strength workout.

The forearm plank with alternating knee taps might be a new move, so let’s break that one down a bit. From your forearm plank, you’ll gently tap one knee to the floor, then lift, and tap the other knee. The key here is to think about moving with control, and keeping your hips perfectly level throughout. You might even find that the slower you move, the more challenging this exercise becomes.

As always, make sure you spend at least five minutes warming up before you begin today’s upper body strength workout. Like all of the workouts in this challenge, this one was made just for SELF, by top trainer Alyssa Exposito.

You’ll need two dumbbells for today’s routine. Then clear some space and get started!

Katie Thompson/Morgan Johnson

The Workout

Here’s a detailed breakdown of the moves you’ll do.

Directions

Directions: Do each exercise for 45 seconds, resting 15 seconds between exercises. At the end of each round, rest 60-90 seconds.
Beginners: Do 2-3 rounds
Advanced: Do 3-5 rounds

You’ll need:

2 dumbbells


Walk-Out to Shoulder Tap

x 45 seconds

Katie Thompson
  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and core engaged. Hinge forward at the hip and place both hands on the floor.
  • Keeping core engaged, and legs straight, walk hands forward one at a time to come into a high plank position.
  • Lift right hand to tap left shoulder, then left hand to tap right shoulder, while keeping core engaged and hips as stable as possible.
  • Walk hands back to feet, and stand to return to starting position.

Forearm Plank With Knee Tap

x 45 seconds alternating sides

Katie Thompson
  • Start in a forearm plank position, with core engaged and legs extended behind you.
  • With your core tight, gently tap your right knee to the floor.
  • Return to your starting position, then gently tap your left knee to the floor.
  • Continue to alternate, focusing on control over speed.

Single-Arm Chest Press

x 45 seconds alternating sides

Katie Thompson
  • You’ll need 2 dumbbells for this move. Lie faceup with knees bent, hip-width apart, and feet flat on the floor.
  • With a weight in each hand, hold weights even with your chest.
  • With your core engaged, so your low back stays flat against the floor, press both weights up toward the ceiling.
  • Lower your right arm toward your torso until your upper arm taps the floor, while your left hand holds.
  • Exhale as you straighten your right arm to return to your starting position.
  • Repeat on the other side and continue to alternate sides.

Bent-Over Row

x 45 seconds

Katie Thompson
  • You’ll need 2 dumbbells for this exercise.
  • Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a weight in each hand with arms at sides. With your core engaged, hinge forward at the hip and bend your knees slightly, so that your back is no lower than parallel to the floor. (Your hamstring flexibility may dictate how far you can bend over—there’s no need to push it!)
  • Do a row by pulling the weights up toward your chest, keeping your elbows hugged close to your rib cage, and squeezing your shoulder blades as you do the exercise.
  • Slowly lower the weights by extending your arms toward the floor to complete 1 rep.

Top image: Photographer: Catherine Servel at Brydges Mackinney. Hair: Tetsuya Yamakata at ArtList. Makeup: Seong Hee at Julian Watson Agency. Manicure: Julie Kandalec at Bryan Bantry. Stylist: Sara Van Pée at Quadriga. Model Mia Kang is wearing Zana Bayne harness, similar styles at zanabayne.com; Fabletics top, similar styles at fabletics.com.

Workout images and gifs: Photographer: Katie Thompson. Hair: Jerome Cultrera at L’ Atelier. Makeup: Deanna Melluso at See Management. Stylist: Sara Van Pée at Quadriga. Workout images: Fabletics top, similar styles fabletics.com; Alala Score Seamless Tight, $54, alalastyle.com; Women’s Techloom Pro Grey, $140, athleticpropulsionlabs.com. Gifs: Alala Surf Bra, $85, alalastyle.com; Carbon38 High Waisted Takara Legging, $109, carbon38.com; APL Women’s Techloom Breeze, $200, athleticpropulsionlabs.com.

Slow and Steady Strength Workout: New Year’s Challenge – Day 1

Happy New Year! We’re psyched that you’ll be joining us for the next month of workouts with our New Year’s Challenge. All of these workouts were designed exclusively for SELF by Alyssa Exposito, a top trainer based in New York City.

Some of the workouts, like today’s strength workout, require two dumbbells; but in other workouts the dumbbells are either optional or not needed. Bottom line: We tried to make this challenge as flexible as possible so you can tailor it to fit your needs.

Today’s strength workout focuses on your lower body and core. Take your time with each of the moves—from the goblet squat to the lateral lunge. You might find it’s a bigger challenge to move more slowly. Remember that warming up is vital to every workout. You can try this warm-up, specifically designed to be done prior to strength workouts, or select one from this list.

Once you feel sufficiently warm, check out the banner below, or keep scrolling for gifs and details of each exercise. Let’s go!

Katie Thompson/ Morgan Johnson

The Workout

Here’s a detailed breakdown of the moves you’ll do.

Directions

Do each exercise for 45 seconds, resting 15 seconds between exercises. At the end of each round, rest 60-90 seconds.
Beginners: Do 2-3 rounds
Advanced: Do 3-5 rounds

You’ll need:

2 dumbbells


Goblet Squat

x 45 seconds

Katie Thompson
  • You’ll need 1 or 2 dumbbells to do this exercise.
  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and core engaged. If you’re using 1 weight, hold the weight at chest height, close to your body, with both hands. If you’re using 2 dumbbells, hold one in each hand at your sides.
  • Send your hips back and bend knees to drop into a squat, allowing knees to bend to at least 90 degrees.
  • Return to starting position by squeezing your glutes to stand.

Good Morning

x 45 seconds

Katie Thompson
  • Stand tall with feet hip-width apart, hands interlaced behind your head.
  • Hinge at the hips, and slowly bend forward with a flat back, keeping your legs straight and core engaged. Stop when chest is parallel to the floor.
  • Return to starting position. Think of this as the same movement pattern you’ll use when doing a deadlift.

Lateral Lunge With Dumbbell

x 45 seconds on each side

Katie Thompson
  • You’ll need 1 or 2 dumbbells for this exercise.
  • Stand with feet together and core engaged. If you’re using 2 weights, your arms can stay at your sides; if you’re using 1, hold the weight with both hands at chest height.
  • Take a big step to the right side with your right foot, and immediately bend right knee to sink into a lateral lunge, sending your butt back, and keeping your left leg perfectly straight. If you’re using 2 weights, allow your left hand to gently come in front of your body, while the weight in the right hand stays at your side.
  • Push off your right foot, and return to starting position.
  • Repeat on the same side for 45 seconds, then do the other side.

Glute Bridge

x 45 seconds

Katie Thompson
  • Lie faceup with your knees bent, feet on the floor, and heels a few inches away from your butt, so that when your arms are at your sides, fingertips can touch your heels.
  • Lift your hips, squeeze glutes, then lower hips slowly back to floor.

Top image: Photographer: Catherine Servel at Brydges Mackinney. Hair: Tetsuya Yamakata at ArtList. Makeup: Seong Hee at Julian Watson Agency. Manicure: Julie Kandalec at Bryan Bantry. Stylist: Sara Van Pée at Quadriga. Model Mia Kang is wearing Zana Bayne harness, similar styles at zanabayne.com; Fabletics top, similar styles at fabletics.com.

Workout images and gifs: Photographer: Katie Thompson. Hair: Jerome Cultrera at L’ Atelier. Makeup: Deanna Melluso at See Management. Stylist: Sara Van Pée at Quadriga. Workout images: Fabletics top, similar styles fabletics.com; Alala Score Seamless Tight, $54, alalastyle.com; Women’s Techloom Pro Grey, $140, athleticpropulsionlabs.com. Gifs: Alala Surf Bra, $85, alalastyle.com; Carbon38 High Waisted Takara Legging, $109, carbon38.com; APL Women’s Techloom Breeze, $200, athleticpropulsionlabs.com.

Lower-Body and Core Workout: New Year’s Challenge – Day 19

Welcome to Day 19 of SELF’s New Year’s Challenge! Today’s core workout will be a fun way to test how much strength you’ve built over the past few weeks. That’s because if you’ve been holding back on weights and have access to more, today’s your day: we strongly encourage you to lift heavy on the goblet squats (see what we did there?). Consider picking up something heavier than 20 pounds to see how it goes. Remember: You can always pull back if something is too heavy, but you’ll never know what that point is unless you give it a shot. You’re getting close to the end of Week 3 in this challenge, so there’s no better time to try. After all, these workouts, created by Alyssa Exposito just for SELF, are meant to get progressively more challenging as the month goes on.

It’s always important to start every single workout with a solid warm-up, but that’s especially true if you’re going to be lifting heavier weights, like you are today. You can try this warm-up, designed to do before strength training, or pick one from our curated list here.

Katie Thompson/Morgan Johnson

The Workout

Here’s a detailed breakdown of the moves you’ll do.

Directions

Directions: Do each exercise for 45 seconds, resting 15 seconds between exercises. At the end of each round, rest 60-90 seconds.
Beginners: Do 2-3 rounds
Advanced: Do 3-5 rounds

Optional:

Use a dumbbell for the goblet squat.


Bear Crawl

x 45 seconds

Katie Thompson
  • Start in an all-fours position with wrists directly under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips.
  • Lift knees a few inches off the floor, so weight is in your toes and hands, and engage your core.
  • “Step” forward with your right hand and left foot, keeping hips level and not letting knees touch ground. Next “step” forward with your left hand and right foot.
  • As a heads up, try to keep your knees just inches above the ground if you can. If you can’t, though, lifting your butt higher in the air (as pictured above) is a fine modification.
  • Continue to crawl forward as space allows, then turn around and crawl back to your starting point until the time runs out.

Goblet Squat

x 45 seconds

Katie Thompson
  • You’ll need 1 or 2 dumbbells to do this exercise, but you can also do it without weights if you prefer.
  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and core engaged. If you’re using 1 weight, hold the weight at chest height, close to your body, with both hands. If you’re using 2 dumbbells, hold one in each hand at your sides.
  • Send your hips back and bend knees to drop into a squat, allowing knees to bend to at least 90 degrees.
  • Return to starting position by squeezing your glutes to stand.

Rainbow Plank

x 45 seconds

Katie Thompson
  • Start in a forearm plank position, with core engaged and legs extended behind you. Raise hips slightly.
  • With core tight, rotate hips to the right and downward, keeping legs straight. Stop just above the floor.
  • Now rotate hips back upward through starting position, then immediately to the left and down toward the floor.
  • Continue to rock hips back and forth in a slow, controlled motion. Keep legs straight and core engaged throughout.

Walking Lunge to Back Pedal

x 45 seconds

Katie Thompson
  • Stand tall with your feet together, core engaged, and hands either on your hips or joined in front of your chest.
  • Step forward with your right (as if you are about to start walking), and immediately bend both knees to 90 degrees, dropping into a lunge. Keep your core engaged and be conscious of keeping your pelvis in a neutral position.
  • Continue to walk forward, dropping into a lunge each time, as your space allows.
  • When you come to the end of your space, back pedal by running your feet in quick, small steps back to your starting point. Keep a tight core, and keep your knees slightly bent throughout the back pedal.
  • Repeat until the time runs out.

Top image: Photographer: Catherine Servel at Brydges Mackinney. Hair: Tetsuya Yamakata at ArtList. Makeup: Seong Hee at Julian Watson Agency. Manicure: Julie Kandalec at Bryan Bantry. Stylist: Sara Van Pée at Quadriga. Model Mia Kang is wearing Norma Kamali Spliced One-Shoulder Mio swimsuit, $185, normakamali.com; Nike compression sleeve, similar styles at nike.com.

Workout images and gifs: Photographer: Katie Thompson. Hair: Jerome Cultrera at L’ Atelier. Makeup: Deanna Melluso at See Management. Stylist: Sara Van Pée at Quadriga. Workout images: Fabletics top, similar styles fabletics.com; Alala Score Seamless Tight, $54, alalastyle.com; Women’s Techloom Pro Grey, $140, athleticpropulsionlabs.com. Gifs: Alala Surf Bra, $85, alalastyle.com; Carbon38 High Waisted Takara Legging, $109, carbon38.com; APL Women’s Techloom Breeze, $200, athleticpropulsionlabs.com.

Squat and Plank Full-Body Workout: New Year’s Challenge – Day 23

Hey there, day 23 of the New Year’s Challenge! We’re getting so close to the finish line! Today’s full-body workout will challenge your muscles from head to toe. You might have noticed that today’s circuit is a little bit longer than usual—a full six minutes of work before you get a 60 second break. Try to move through all of your reps evenly—you don’t want the first three moves to be done well, and then the last three to be done with poor form.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you do this workout, which was created by certified trainer, Alyssa Exposito. In your lateral lunges, think about sitting back (like you would in a squat), rather than just bending your knee. Engage your glutes as you sink into the lateral lunge and as you stand. During the body dip, don’t just rely on your arms to lower and lift your body. Make sure that you are squeezing your shoulder blades and using your upper back to get the most out of the movement.

As always, it’s important to prime your body for the work ahead with a solid warm-up. Try this one, or select another from the list we made just for this challenge. If you’ve got time, we always suggest doing a cool-down as well.

Katie Thompson/Morgan Johnson

The Workout

Here’s a detailed breakdown of the moves you’ll do.

Directions

Directions: Do each exercise for 45 seconds, resting 15 seconds between exercises. At the end of each round, rest 60-90 seconds.
Beginners: Do 2-3 rounds
Advanced: Do 3-5 rounds

Optional:

Optional: Use dumbbells for the goblet squat and lateral lunge.


Goblet Squat to Rainbow Plank

x 45 seconds

Katie Thompson
Katie Thompson
  • You’ll need 1 or 2 dumbbells to do this exercise.
  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and core engaged. If you’re using 1 weight, hold the weight at chest height, close to your body, with both hands. If you’re using 2 dumbbells, hold one in each hand at your sides.
  • Send your hips back and bend knees to drop into a squat, allowing knees to bend to at least 90 degrees.
  • At the lowest point of your squat, set the weight on the floor and then place both hands on the floor directly under your shoulders, so you’re in a low squat with hands on the floor.
  • Jump both feet back to come into a high plank.
  • Lower onto your right forearm, then left forearm to come into a forearm plank.
  • Now, with your core engaged, slowly lower your right hip to the right so it comes close to the floor. Return to center, then lower your left hip to the left so it taps (or comes close to) the floor.
  • Once completed, return to a high plank position, and walk or hop feet toward hands to return to a low squat. Stand to complete the move.

Poliquin Squat

x 45 seconds

Katie Thompson
  • This is a fun variation on a traditional squat. You can use 1 or 2 dumbbells for this exercise (or none at all, if you prefer). If you are using 2, allow your arms to hang at your sides, if you are using 1 dumbbell, hold it with both hands at chest height.
  • Do a squat by sending your hips back, engaging your core and glutes, and bending both knees to come to 90-degrees.
  • Now stand up halfway, keeping your glutes engaged, into what is basically a half squat.
  • From the half squat position, drop again into your lowest squat position.
  • Now stand up all the way, squeezing your glutes and keeping your core engaged as you stand.
  • Think of this move as an elevator with 3 levels: top, middle, bottom. So the movement should be: top to bottom, to middle to bottom, to top.

Walk-Out to Push-Up

x 45 seconds

Katie Thompson
Katie Thompson
  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and core engaged. Hinge forward at the hips and place both hands on the floor.
  • Keeping core engaged and legs straight, walk hands forward one at a time to come into a high plank position.
  • From here, do a push-up. Bend both elbows, and lower chest, hips, and legs toward the floor in a single movement. Keep core engaged so hips don’t sag and stop when your elbows reach 90-degrees. Straighten arms to return to the high plank position, then walk hands back to your feet, and stand to complete the exercise.
  • Make it easier: You can do a modified push-up from your knees. Walk out to come into a high plank position, then gently lower both knees to the floor. With your core tight and hips level, bend both elbows and lower your chest toward the floor. Keep both your feet on the floor throughout (do not bend your knees or bring your toes toward your butt). Straighten arms to return to starting position.

Lateral Lunge

x 45 seconds on each side

Katie Thompson
  • You’ll need 1 or 2 dumbbells for this exercise.
  • Stand with feet together and core engaged. If you’re using 2 weights, your arms can stay at your sides; if you’re using 1, hold the weight with both hands at chest height.
  • Take a big step to the right side with your right foot, and immediately bend right knee to sink into a lateral lunge, sending your butt back, and keeping your left leg perfectly straight. If you’re using 2 weights, allow your left hand to gently come in front of your body, while the weight in the right hand stays at your side.
  • Push off your right foot, and return to starting position.
  • Repeat on the same side for 45 seconds, then do the other side.

Body Dip

x 45 seconds

Katie Thompson
  • Grab a bench, box, or sturdy chair for this move. Sit on the edge of the box, and place both hands at your sides, with fingers turned toward your body.
  • Using your arms, lift your hips a few inches off the box and walk your feet a few inches forward.
  • With your core and glutes engaged, bend both elbows until they get to 90 degrees, allowing your hips to lower toward the floor. You can stay flat on your feet, or rest only on your heels. Either way, very little weight should be in your feet.
  • Extend both arms to return to starting position, without allowing yourself to sit on the box. Repeat.

Top image: Photographer: Catherine Servel at Brydges Mackinney. Hair: Tetsuya Yamakata at ArtList. Makeup: Seong Hee at Julian Watson Agency. Manicure: Julie Kandalec at Bryan Bantry. Stylist: Sara Van Pée at Quadriga. Model Mia Kang is wearing Zana Bayne harness, similar styles at zanabayne.com; Fabletics top, similar styles at fabletics.com.

Workout images and gifs: Photographer: Katie Thompson. Hair: Jerome Cultrera at L’ Atelier. Makeup: Deanna Melluso at See Management. Stylist: Sara Van Pée at Quadriga. Workout images: Fabletics top, similar styles fabletics.com; Alala Score Seamless Tight, $54, alalastyle.com; Women’s Techloom Pro Grey, $140, athleticpropulsionlabs.com. Gifs: Alala Surf Bra, $85, alalastyle.com; Carbon38 High Waisted Takara Legging, $109, carbon38.com; APL Women’s Techloom Breeze, $200, athleticpropulsionlabs.com.

Lower-Body Dumbbell Workout: New Year’s Challenge Day 15

Welcome to Week 3 of your New Year’s Challenge—we’ve got a fun dumbbell workout ready and waiting for ya! We hope you’ve been enjoying these workouts so far and that they’re pushing you just enough to feel even stronger.

If your motivation has started to waiver, that’s totally normal—you’re definitely not alone. Once the newness wears off, the work really sets in. Stick with us! Remember, there are plenty of ways to modify this challenge so these workouts remain fun (or at least manageable). If you’re really having a bleh day, just do two circuits, for instance. Or ditch the weights and take it a little easier today. Our advice: Crank up your favorite playlist, or put on your favorite workout attire)… and power on through. You can do this!

Today’s dumbbell workout was created by certified trainer Alyssa Exposito. And it includes a squat variation that might be new: the Poliquin squat. Think of this squat sort of like an elevator with three levels. You’ll start at the top level (standing), squat to the lowest level, then rise halfway up, squat low again, then stand all the way. You can take this move slowly, focusing on squeezing your glutes, core, and hamstrings at each “level,” or take it faster once you learn the movement pattern.

Before you dive in, remember to select one of the warm-ups from our list or spend about five minutes doing something else that gets your blood pumping. You’ve got this, #TeamSELF!

Katie Thompson/Morgan Johnson

The Workout

Here’s a detailed breakdown of the moves you’ll do.

Directions

Directions: Do each exercise for 45 seconds, resting 15 seconds between exercises. At the end of each round, rest 60-90 seconds.
Beginners: Do 2-3 rounds
Advanced: Do 3-5 rounds

You’ll need:

2 dumbbells


Poliquin Squat

x 45 seconds

Katie Thompson
  • This is a fun variation on a traditional squat. You can use 1 or 2 dumbbells for this exercise (or none, if it’s easier or preferable). If you are using 2, allow your arms to hang at your sides; if you are using 1 dumbbell, hold it with both hands at chest height.
  • Do a squat by sending your hips back, engaging your core and glutes, and bending both knees to come to 90-degrees.
  • Now stand up halfway, keeping your glutes engaged, into (basically) a half squat.
  • From the half squat position, drop down again into your lowest squat position.
  • Now stand up all the way, squeezing your glutes and keeping your core engaged as you stand.
  • Think of this move as an elevator with 3 levels: top, middle, bottom. So the movement should be: top to bottom to middle to bottom to top.

Staggered-Stance Deadlift

x 45 seconds on each side

Katie Thompson
  • You’ll need 2 dumbbells to do this exercise. Stand with your right foot in front of your left foot as if you were about to start walking. Your feet should be slightly offset—not as if you’re standing on a tightrope. Keep both knees slightly bent, holding a dumbbell in each hand with the weights lightly resting against the front of your thighs.
  • Hinge at your hips and send your butt back as you lean forward, lowering the weights toward the floor with a flat back and engaged core. Allow your left heel (back heel) to raise naturally as you descend.
  • Allow your arms to hang naturally, close to your front leg—do not lift the weights away from your body. Engage your shoulder blades, squeezing them together at the center of your back. Do not allow your back to round. Only lower as far as your hamstring flexibility allows.
  • Keeping your core tight, push through your heels to stand up. Keep the weights close to your shin as you rise up, making your hamstrings and glutes do the work.
  • Pause at the top and squeeze your glutes.
  • Repeat for 45 seconds with your right foot in front, then switch sides.

Lateral Lunge

x 45 seconds on each side

Katie Thompson
  • You’ll need 1 or 2 dumbbells for this exercise.
  • Stand with feet together and core engaged. If you’re using 2 weights, your arms can stay at your sides; if you’re using 1, hold the weight with both hands at chest height.
  • Take a big step to the right side with your right foot, and immediately bend right knee to sink into a lateral lunge, sending your butt back, and keeping your left leg perfectly straight. If you’re using 2 weights, allow your left hand to gently come in front of your body, while the weight in the right hand stays at your side.
  • Push off your right foot, and return to starting position.
  • Repeat on the same side for 45 seconds, then do the other side.

Repeat the circuit 2-5 times. After your last circuit, do the Tabata Burnout.


Tabata Burnout

Do each move below for 20 seconds, resting 10 seconds between moves. Do the moves back-to-back for a total of 4 minutes.


Stationary Lunge

x 20 seconds on each side

Katie Thompson
  • Stand with your right foot in front of your left foot (a staggered stance). Keep your hips tucked, so your core and glutes are engaged. Your feet should be about as far apart as if you were walking naturally. Make sure your feet are also offset slightly, not perfectly in front of one another.
  • With hands on your hips and core engaged, bend both knees and lower into a lunge.
  • Pause at the bottom of your lunge, then stand by straightening both legs.
  • Continue to repeat on the same side for 20 seconds. Then rest for 10 seconds, and switch to the other side for 20 seconds.
  • Make it harder: You can add weight, by holding a dumbbell in each hand. You can also make this move more challenging by adding a jump at the top of each rep. Spring up, then land lightly on your toes as you immediately sink into a lunge.

Quick Feet

x 20 seconds

Katie Thompson
  • Stand tall with core engaged and feet hip-width apart.
  • Run your feet up and down as fast as possible, lifting them only a few inches off the floor. This move is all about speed, so keep your core tight, move your arms naturally, and move your feet as fast as you can.

Top image: Photographer: Catherine Servel at Brydges Mackinney. Hair: Tetsuya Yamakata at ArtList. Makeup: Seong Hee at Julian Watson Agency. Manicure: Julie Kandalec at Bryan Bantry. Stylist: Sara Van Pée at Quadriga. Model Mia Kang is wearing Norma Kamali Spliced One-Shoulder Mio swimsuit, $185, normakamali.com; Nike compression sleeve, similar styles at nike.com.

Workout images and gifs: Photographer: Katie Thompson. Hair: Jerome Cultrera at L’ Atelier. Makeup: Deanna Melluso at See Management. Stylist: Sara Van Pée at Quadriga. Workout images: Fabletics top, similar styles fabletics.com; Alala Score Seamless Tight, $54, alalastyle.com; Women’s Techloom Pro Grey, $140, athleticpropulsionlabs.com. Gifs: Alala Surf Bra, $85, alalastyle.com; Carbon38 High Waisted Takara Legging, $109, carbon38.com; APL Women’s Techloom Breeze, $200, athleticpropulsionlabs.com.

Dumbbell Workout and AMRAP Push: New Year’s Challenge – Day 28

You’ve made it! Welcome to the final day of your New Year’s Challenge—this last workout ends with a special AMRAP, just for you! Before we get to it, though, we just want to say how impressed we are. Your devotion to finishing these workouts all month has been amazing, and you should be so proud of yourself for what you’ve accomplished. You’ve got one final push—and we think this one will definitely leave you sweaty.

For this final workout, created by certified trainer Alyssa Exposito, you’ll need two dumbbells and a killer playlist. You’ve done all of these moves before, so for your final push, we’ve got a special challenge in mind: Try to do more reps of each exercise during your final round than you did during your first round. That doesn’t mean you get to run through the moves with sloppy form—but it does mean you’ll need to really concentrate on keeping up a good pace even as you start to be fatigued.

The final 10 minutes of this workout are an AMRAP. That stands for “as many rounds as possible,” meaning you’ll do the designated number of reps for each move, and rest as little as possible between sets for all 10 minutes. Trainers and fitness fans love AMRAPs because (similar to the Tabata’s you’ve done) you get the most from your workout in the least amount of time. Since this AMRAP is long, try to move at a consistent, steady pace so you can move continuously for the whole 10 minutes. In other words, don’t exert all of your effort in three minutes, and then rest for a full minute before starting again.

Don’t forget to kick things off with a warm-up, then dive in below!

Katie Thompson/Morgan Johnson

The Workout

Here’s a detailed breakdown of the moves you’ll do.

Directions

Do each exercise for 45 seconds, resting 15 seconds between exercises. At the end of each round, rest 60-90 seconds.
Beginners: Do 2-3 rounds
Advanced: Do 3-5 rounds

After your last round, try the AMRAP burnout.

You’ll need:

2 dumbbells


Glute Bridge March

x 45 seconds alternating sides

Katie Thompson
  • Lie faceup with knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and heels a few inches away from your butt so that your fingertips graze your heels when arms are at your sides.
  • Squeeze glutes, engage core and lift hips, keeping knees close together (don’t let legs fall wide as you lift).
  • Hold in the lifted position and march right leg, then left leg, without dropping hips.

Single-Arm Chest Press

x 45 seconds alternating sides

Katie Thompson
  • You’ll need 2 dumbbells for this move. Lie faceup with knees bent, hip-width apart, and feet flat on the floor.
  • Hold a weight in each hand, with the weights even with your chest, as if you are about to do a chest press.
  • With your core engaged, so your lower back stays flat against the floor, press both weights up toward the ceiling.
  • Lower your right arm toward your torso until your upper arm taps the floor, while your left hand holds.
  • Exhale as you straighten your right arm to return to your starting position.
  • Repeat on the other side and continue to alternate sides.

Bent-Over Row

x 45 seconds

Katie Thompson
  • You’ll need 2 dumbbells for this exercise.
  • Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a weight in each hand with arms at sides. With your core engaged, hinge forward at the hip and bend your knees slightly, so that your back is no lower than parallel to the floor. (Your hamstring flexibility may dictate how far you can bend over—there’s no need to push it!)
  • Do a row by pulling the weights up toward your chest, keeping your elbows hugged close to your rib cage, and squeezing your shoulder blades as you do the exercise.
  • Slowly lower the weights by extending your arms toward the floor to complete 1 rep.

Do the entire circuit 2-5 times. After your last round, do the AMRAP Burnout.


AMRAP Burnout

(As Many Rounds As Possible)

Directions

Do 8 reps of each move below, with little to no rest between moves or rounds. Complete the round as many times as you can in 10 minutes.


Goblet Squat

x 8 reps

Katie Thompson
  • You’ll need 1 or 2 dumbbells to do this exercise.
  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and core engaged. If you’re using 1 weight, hold the weight at chest height, close to your body, with both hands. If you’re using 2 dumbbells, hold one in each hand at your sides.
  • Send your hips back and bend knees to drop into a squat, allowing knees to bend to at least 90 degrees.
  • Return to starting position by squeezing your glutes to stand.

Forearm Plank With Alternating Knee Taps

x 8 reps on each side

Katie Thompson
  • Start in a forearm plank position, with core engaged and legs extended behind you.
  • With your core tight, gently tap your right knee to the floor.
  • Return to your starting position, then gently tap your left knee to the floor.
  • Continue to alternate, focusing on control over speed.

Push-up

x 8 reps

Katie Thompson
  • Start in a high plank position, with your core engaged, wrists directly under shoulders, and neck relaxed.
  • If you need a modification, you can also start with your knees on the ground and your body making a straight line from your knees to the top of your head.
  • In one smooth movement, bend elbows to lower chest toward floor. Stop when elbows bend to 90 degrees.
  • Without letting hips drop, push back up to high plank position to return to starting position.

Stationary Lunge

x 8 reps on each side

Katie Thompson
  • Stand with your right foot in front of your left foot (a staggered stance). Keep your hips tucked, so your core and glutes are engaged. Your feet should be about as far apart as if you were walking naturally. Make sure your feet are also offset slightly, not perfectly in front of one another.
  • With hands on your hips and core engaged, bend both knees and lower into a lunge.
  • Pause at the bottom of your lunge, then stand by straightening both legs.
  • Continue to repeat on the same side for 8 reps, then switch to the other side.
  • Make it harder: You can add weight, by holding a dumbbell in each hand. You can also make this move more challenging by add a jump at the top of each rep. Spring up, then land lightly on your toes as you immediately sink into a lunge.

Top image: Photographer: Catherine Servel at Brydges Mackinney. Hair: Tetsuya Yamakata at ArtList. Makeup: Seong Hee at Julian Watson Agency. Manicure: Julie Kandalec at Bryan Bantry. Stylist: Sara Van Pée at Quadriga. Model Mia Kang is wearing Zana Bayne harness, similar styles at zanabayne.com; Fabletics top, similar styles at fabletics.com.

Workout images and gifs: Photographer: Katie Thompson. Hair: Jerome Cultrera at L’ Atelier. Makeup: Deanna Melluso at See Management. Stylist: Sara Van Pée at Quadriga. Workout images: Fabletics top, similar styles fabletics.com; Alala Score Seamless Tight, $54, alalastyle.com; Women’s Techloom Pro Grey, $140, athleticpropulsionlabs.com. Gifs: Alala Surf Bra, $85, alalastyle.com; Carbon38 High Waisted Takara Legging, $109, carbon38.com; APL Women’s Techloom Breeze, $200, athleticpropulsionlabs.com.

13 Cardio Workouts to Get Your Heart Pumping

Looking for some cardio workouts to work up a sweat? We’ve got a ton of great options for you right here as part of the SELF New Year’s Challenge—although you can do these anytime, whether you’re participating in the challenge or not.

If you’ve done a SELF challenge before, you might have noticed that we set this year’s up a little bit differently. While we’ve given you specific strength workouts throughout the four weeks, your cardio days are totally up to you!

For this challenge, you’ve got two cardio workouts each week—check out the full calendar here to get a better understanding of the schedule. Your main goal for those days should be to work up a sweat and get a little bit breathless.

We suggest doing some type of cardio activity for 30 to 45 minutes, as well as making time for a warm-up and cool-down. You can do one activity, like running, the entire time, or you can do a combination of your favorites. For instance, if you’re headed to a gym, you could: run for 15 minutes, use the elliptical for 15 minutes, and use the rowing machine for 15 minutes. You could also go for a long bike ride, swim, or take a cardio dance class.

If you want even more options, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite cardio workouts below. Just about all of these can be done with zero equipment, so you can do them right in your living room. A few of these choices are favorites from previous challenges, and a few are on the shorter side (as little as 10 minutes!) for those days you have a time crunch.

Our suggestion? Take some time right now to plan your month of cardio workouts. Use the printable workout calendar to pencil in what you’d like to do each day. That way, when your alarm goes off at 6:00am or you’ve had an energy-sapping day at the office, this is one less thing you have to think about.

Quick and Effective Cardio Workouts

Cardio Workouts From Previous SELF Challenges

Plank Workout: Core Workout and Tabata Burnout: New Year’s Challenge – Day 26

It’s day 26, which means you’re coming up on some of the last workouts of the New Year’s Challenge—so don’t slow down now! Today’s plank workout routine, which was designed by NYC-based trainer Alyssa Exposito just for SELF, is all about the core.

The plank is a foundational fitness move; it’s relatively easy to learn, and it offers tons of variations so you won’t get bored. When you do your plank workout moves, make sure you are engaging your core—not just letting your shoulders and toes hold you up, while your hips sag. You want to keep a relaxed neck, and direct your gaze a few inches in front of your fingertips to keep your neck in line with your spine. Don’t forget to squeeze your glutes, keep your legs straight, and flex through your feet so you stay strong on your toes. Once you can hold a forearm plank for about 30 seconds, you’re ready to get started with the variations included below.

Before you start with this plank workout, make sure you do a warm-up—either something from our list, or even just some jumping jacks and a light jog in place. And of course, make sure you save a little energy for that Tabata burnout at the end of today’s workout!

Katie Thompson/Morgan Johnson

The Workout

Here’s a detailed breakdown of the moves you’ll do.

Directions

Directions: Do each exercise for 45 seconds, resting 15 seconds between exercises. At the end of each round, rest 60-90 seconds.
Beginners: Do 2-3 rounds
Advanced: Do 3-5 rounds

After your last round, try the Tabata burnout.


Body Saw

x 45 seconds

Katie Thompson
  • Start in low plank position with hips level and core engaged.
  • With your core engaged and back straight, rock forward, coming on to the tips of your toes, so your shoulders and collarbones extend in front of your elbows.
  • Now rock back, rolling on to the balls of your feet, and allowing your shoulders to come behind your elbows.
  • Continue to rock forward and back, keeping your core engaged throughout.

Up-Down Plank

x 45 seconds

Katie Thompson
  • From a high plank position, with core engaged and hips level, slowly lower onto right forearm, being careful to keep hips steady.
  • Now, lower on to your left forearm, so that you arrive in a forearm plank position.
  • Maintain an engaged core, pressing shoulder blades down your back and keeping a relaxed gaze at fingertips to ensure there’s no tension in your neck.
  • Now, place right hand on floor directly under your shoulders, then left hand, and push up to return to a high plank position.
  • The next time, start by lowering onto left forearm first. Continue to alternate.

Bear Crawl

x 45 seconds

Katie Thompson
  • Start in an all-fours position with wrists directly under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips.
  • Lift knees a few inches off the floor, so weight is in your toes and hands, and engage your core.
  • “Step” forward with your right hand and left foot, keeping hips level and not letting knees touch ground. Next “step” forward with your left hand and right foot.
  • If you can, try to keep your knees just inches off the ground—the closer to the ground, the more challenging the move. If you need to lift your butt in the air a bit higher, though, that’s a fine modification.
  • Continue to crawl forward as space allows, then turn around and crawl back to your starting point until the time runs out.

Do the entire circuit 2-5 times. After your last round, do the Tabata Burnout.


Tabata Burnout

Directions

Do each move below for 20 seconds, resting 10 seconds between moves. Do the circuit back-to-back for a total of 4 minutes.


Up-Down Plank

x 20 seconds

Katie Thompson
  • From a high plank position, with core engaged and hips level, slowly lower onto right forearm, being careful to keep hips steady.
  • Now, lower on to your left forearm, so that you arrive in a forearm plank position.
  • Maintain an engaged core, pressing shoulder blades down your back and keeping a relaxed gaze at fingertips to ensure there’s no tension in your neck.
  • Now, place right hand on floor directly under your shoulders, then left hand, and push up to return to a high plank position.
  • The next time, start by lowering onto left forearm first. Continue to alternate.

Mini Flutter Kick

x 20 seconds

Katie Thompson
  • Lie faceup, legs extended. Your hands can be interlaces behind your head, or folded under the small of your back to protect your spine.
  • Engage core and lift feet 6 inches off floor. Kick your feet up and down, making quick small movements.
  • Focus on keeping core engaged throughout. If you experience any back pain, stop doing this exercise immediately.

Top image: Photographer: Catherine Servel at Brydges Mackinney. Hair: Tetsuya Yamakata at ArtList. Makeup: Seong Hee at Julian Watson Agency. Manicure: Julie Kandalec at Bryan Bantry. Stylist: Sara Van Pée at Quadriga. Model Mia Kang is wearing Zana Bayne harness, similar styles at zanabayne.com; Fabletics top, similar styles at fabletics.com.

Workout images and gifs: Photographer: Katie Thompson. Hair: Jerome Cultrera at L’ Atelier. Makeup: Deanna Melluso at See Management. Stylist: Sara Van Pée at Quadriga. Workout images: Fabletics top, similar styles fabletics.com; Alala Score Seamless Tight, $54, alalastyle.com; Women’s Techloom Pro Grey, $140, athleticpropulsionlabs.com. Gifs: Alala Surf Bra, $85, alalastyle.com; Carbon38 High Waisted Takara Legging, $109, carbon38.com; APL Women’s Techloom Breeze, $200, athleticpropulsionlabs.com.

3 Soothing Cool-Down Ideas You Can Do After Any Workout

You did your warm-up, crushed your workout—and now you’re ready to jet to the next item on your long to-do list. We hear you. But before you do, take a few minutes to breathe deeply and stretch your muscles with a cool-down.

Here’s the thing, stretching in general is a hotly debated topic right now. And currently, experts think that stretching can be beneficial, but not stretching is probably not the worst. So, if you’re running late and you absolutely can’t spare five minutes for a cool-down, it’s probably OK. Having said that, we still think it’s a great idea. Cool downs allow your heart rate to fall to normal, your breathing to slow, and sometimes stretching just feels good. Also, the benefits are more than physical: a proper cool-down can help you mentally ease back into the pace of your life. It’s a great way to reset after a sweaty workout.

We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite cool-down options below, some of which are from past challenges. None of them are more than five minutes, and none require any equipment. You can do one of these below or do your own favorite stretches. The idea is just to take a few moments to reward your body for powering through another workout.

Even if you can’t commit to stretching after every workout, start by doing a cool-down after your strength workouts or try to stretch on your rest days. This will help soothe your tired muscles (and can give you a burst of energy when you need it). Here are some of our favorite essential stretches you can incorporate into your life every day, whether or not you’ve done a workout before.

7 Quick and Easy Bodyweight Warm-Ups

Newsflash: You should never skip your warm-up. While we’re hoping you already knew this, we’re here to remind you just how important warm ups are. From a performance perspective, you’re actually priming your muscles for the work ahead, so they’ll do their job more efficiently. Plus, experts say you’re less likely to get injured if you’ve properly warmed up first.

A proper warm up is a group of moves that increase blood flow and elevate your core temperature to get you ready for your workout. Important, right? That’s why we’ve rounded up some of our favorite warm-ups, several of which are from past challenges. You don’t need any equipment for these and none will take you more than about six minutes.

We suggest trying all of these workouts at least once throughout this month. Why? Because like so much with fitness, warming up is all about what works for your body. You might find that you have tighter hips from sitting at a desk all day and need to spend more time loosening them up. Or maybe it’s your shoulders and upper back that need a little extra TLC. One thing you won’t find in these warm-ups? Static stretching. Warming up your muscles in a dynamic way—meaning that you do gentle movements—has been shown to be more effective than static stretching (say, touching your toes).

One more note: If you get to the end of your warm-up and you’re not lightly sweating, feel free to repeat the whole thing again. If you work out in the morning or live in a cold climate, it may take longer for your muscles to be ready. Select one below and get started!