The Back-To-Basics Workout That Never Fails

No complicated moves or fancy equipment -- just four classic, effective exercises you already know how to do.

10/12/2015 08:23 am ET
Dave Hall

Using 4 tried-and-true moves (pushups, squats, planks and jumping rope), this 16-minute routine works the upper body, lower body and core, and includes cardio—all the ingredients for an effective workout, says Joshua Feldman, a certified trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine and a district fitness manager for Crunch Gyms in New York. "Do this right and you’ll be sweating." And if you don’t have a jump rope, jumping in place is a good alternative.

If you want to go truly old-school, grab a stopwatch. Otherwise, the timer on your smartphone will do just fine.

The Routine
You’ll do the same 4-minute circuit 4 times. Each circuit looks like this:

0 to 60 seconds: Do 15 pushups, then rest until the 1-minute mark.

1-minute mark to 2-minute mark: Do 15 squats, then rest until the 2-minute mark.
2-minute mark to 3-minute mark: Hold a plank for 30 seconds, then rest until the 3-minute mark.
3-minute mark to 4-minute mark: Jump rope for 30 seconds, then rest until the 4-minute mark.

Repeat 3 more times for a total of 4 circuits.

Modify It
Four sets of 15 pushups and squats will leave anyone who's in generally good shape fatigued, says Feldman, but if that feels too challenging, start with 8 to 10 and work your way up. And if you can’t hold a plank for 30 seconds or jump rope for that long, start with 20 seconds and add more time as you get stronger and build up your endurance.

Need a harder workout? Try our 10-minute high intensity interval training (HIIT) routine.

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