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What you need

A resistance ball, free weights and a mat. Pick a weight light enough that you can do repetitions using proper form. When you're done, you should feel that was the last rep you could have completed with good form.

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What you need to know (NEW)

This week's strength-training session consists of four circuits. At the end of a circuit, rest one minute, then repeat for a total of three times before moving on to the next circuit.


Before each circuit, do two to five minutes of jumping jacks. Beginners can do a low-impact version in which you alternate tapping one leg out to the side and reaching the arm diagonally in the opposite direction.


Strength training: Two sessions a week on non-consecutive days.

Cardio: Three sessions a week.

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Strength training: Three sessions a week on non-consecutive days.

Cardio: Three sessions a week, plus 10 minutes of additional cardio on two of your strength-training days.


1. Bench press

Beginner: 12-15 repetitions.

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Advanced: Perform with your head and shoulders on a resistance ball, feet on the floor and hips in the air (12-15 reps).

2. Wide row with stomach on ball

Beginner and advanced: Place your chest on a resistance ball and your feet against a wall. Holding a weight in each hand, place your arms on the floor on either side of the ball and row your elbows up to a 90-degree angle (12-15 reps).

3. Lunges

Beginner: Place the resistance ball between your lower back and the wall. Place your right foot forward and your left foot back. Bend both knees and lower your body toward the floor. Straighten back up to the starting position (NEW: 10 reps each leg, holding light weights).

Advanced: Do the lunges without the support of the ball (NEW). Do 12 reps each leg, holding light weights).


1. Biceps curl to shoulder press

Beginner: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a weight in each hand. Curl both hands up toward your shoulders, then press the weights up over your head. Slowly return to starting position (12-15 reps).

Advanced: Sit on the ball and lift one leg in the air as you perform the exercise. (12-15 reps.)

2. French press

Beginner: Lie on your back with your legs bent and feet on the floor. Hold a weight in each hand and straighten your arms over your shoulders. Bend at your elbows so the weights come down to either side of your ears (12-15 reps).

Advanced: Put your feet up on a resistance ball. As you straighten your arms, lift your hips in the air (12-15 reps).

3. Plank

Beginner: Hold 10-30 seconds.

Advanced: The exercise is the same, but come up onto your toes instead of your knees. Alternate lifting one leg off of the floor (20 reps).


1. Push-ups

Beginner (NEW): 10-12 reps.

Advanced (NEW): Kneel in front of a resistance ball and then roll out, so your legs are on the ball and your hands are on the floor. This week, add a knee tuck: As you push away from the floor, pull your knees in to your chest. The ball should roll with your knees. Slowly return your legs to the start position and go back into your push-up (8-10 reps).

2. Bent-over rows

Beginner and advanced: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a weight in each hand. Hinge forward at your hips. Start with your arms straight and perpendicular to the floor, palms facing each other. Row your elbows up toward the ceiling, then slowly lower (12-15 reps).

3. Squat

Beginner: Place a resistance ball between your lower back and a wall. Place your feet about a foot farther forward than your hips. Bend at hips and knees and lower your bum to the floor. Press back up to the starting position (NEW: 15 reps, holding light weights).

Advanced: Perform with no ball (15 reps, holding light weights).


1. Side planks

Beginner: Come down onto your side on the mat. Position yourself so that your elbow is under your shoulder and your knees are stacked on top of each other. Lift your hips off the ground. (Hold for 10-30 seconds each side.)

Advanced: Same as above, but come up on your feet. (Hold for 20 seconds to one minute each side.)

2. V hold

Beginners: Sit on a mat. Lean back 20 to 30 degrees with your chest out and your back straight. Engage your abdominals and hold for 10-30 seconds.

Advanced: Same as above, but lift your feet off the ground. Hold for 20-30 seconds.

3. Bird dog

Beginner and advanced: Get down on to the mat on your hands and knees. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Keep your pelvis and chest stable and straighten your opposite arm and leg. Do 10 reps per side.


Beginner: This week, do 30-minute sessions on a different machine each day. Keep your heart rate 60 to 85 per cent of your max for the duration.

Advanced: This week, do three stand-alone cardio sessions and tack on an extra 10 minutes of cardio to two of your strength workouts. Two of your cardio-only workouts should be 30-45 minutes in duration. Keep your heart rate at 60 to 85 per cent of your max. Try to do different activities for each of your workouts. Also, do one day of interval training: Do a five-minute warm-up and then five sets in which you alternate two minutes of intense effort with three minutes of more moderate activity. Cool down for five minutes.

Special to The Globe and Mail

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