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Basic Training: Build Your Own Boot-Camp Workout

Does winter weather have you camping out on the couch? It’s time to join the ranks of the physically active. Studies show everyone from obese children to frail older adults can benefit from home-based exercise programs.

This season, stay in shape with your own at-home boot-camp style workout—no personal trainer, fancy equipment, or gym membership required. The secret to this trendy tone-up is mixing calorie-burning cardio intervals with moves that build strength using the weight of your own body. Here’s how.

The warm-up

Start with five to 10 minutes of easy motion, such as walking in place or riding a stationary bike.

The moves

Choose eight to 10 strength-training moves that work all your major muscle groups: legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms. Here are a few favorites:

  • Push-ups,for your arms, chest, and shoulders. Make sure your palms are flat and your hands are shoulder-width apart. Slowly lower your body to the floor, bending your elbows. Push back upward against the floor until your arms are fully extended. Repeat 12 to 20 times.

  • Bridge, for your abs, butt, and hips. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Contract your abs and glutes, exhale, and lift your hips off the floor. Inhale and lower down to starting position. Repeat 12 to 20 times.

  • Squats, for your hips, thighs, and butt. Stand in front of a sturdy, armless chair. Place your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Extend your arms in front of you. Slowly bend your knees and lower yourself down until you’re almost seated, taking care not to extend your knees past your toes. Slowly rise back to a standing position. If this move is too difficult, you can use your hands for help. Repeat 10 times.

The intervals

After every two strength-training moves, do 60 seconds of cardiovascular exercise. This could be anything that gets your heart pumping, from jumping rope to dancing to fast-paced housecleaning.

The cool-down

When you’re done, do another five to 10 minutes of gentle motion to lower your heart rate.

The payoff

This type of workout can burn up to 600 calories an hour, according to a study by the American Council on Exercise. It also strengthens your muscles and improves your endurance, and you’ll have fun in the process.

As with any fitness routine, check with your doctor before beginning if you’re 35 or older, obese, have heart disease or another chronic health condition, or have had recent surgery.