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Intervals: Pump It Up

by Melissa Weigelt, MS on Mar 27, 2014

If your students want to build upper-body strength while being challenged with intense, calorie-burning intervals, try Pump Up! The exercises focus on muscular strength and endurance, core stabilization and cardiovascular conditioning. The workout also incorporates balance challenges to recruit additional muscles and offer a functional approach to fitness.

Pump Up! Details

Goal/Emphasis: total-body muscular strength and endurance, emphasizing upper body, core and cardiovascular conditioning
Time: 60 minutes
Equipment Needed: 9- to 12-pound weighted bars (e.g., a Body Bar®), and steps placed vertically
Music: 130 beats per minute
Additional Details

  • Alternate upper-body resistance exercises with short bursts of high-intensity cardiovascular moves.
  • Encourage participants to use sufficient resistance (enough to overload muscles in 8–10 repetitions).
  • Sequence two or three exercises in succession for each muscle group, to provide additional challenge.
  • Offer progressions to challenge advanced participants while also giving options to students who need less intensity.

Warm-Up (10 minutes)

The warm-up includes simple athletic movements that increase heart rate and body temperature. While similar to some of the movements in the workout, the warm-up exercises are executed with less intensity. Do each of these moves for about 30 seconds, and repeat:

  • basic squats
  • alternating front lunges, reaching arms overhead
  • modified burpees: squat, place hands on floor, step back to plank, step forward to squat, and stand (alternate sides)
  • modified push-ups (knees down)
  • modified plank jacks, stepping feet wide and in (alternating sides)

Work Phase (40 minutes)

Complete 8–10 repetitions of each strength exercise and then perform the cardiovascular move for 1 minute 30 seconds. Take 1 minute of active recovery (march in place or walk around the room) and then repeat the entire sequence on the opposite side.



  • Chest fly: Lie supine on bench, with weighted bar held lengthwise to right (R), and do chest fly. For added intensity and balance challenge, lift same-side leg off floor.
  • Chest press: Lie supine on bench, holding bar horizontally with R hand, and do chest press.
  • Push-up to plank with shoulder flexion: Do push-up with R hand on bench and left (L) hand on floor; hold plank position and reach L arm forward.


  • Squat and hop with quarter turn R, then back to center.

Alignment Tips

  • Avoid hyperextending spine.
  • When doing squat and hop, turn back in same direction to avoid moving in a circle.

Tips for Beginners

  • Do push-up with knees on floor and without shoulder flexion.
  • Do cardio move without hop and turn; simply squat in place.



  • With staggered stance, hinging forward at hips, do one-arm row with bar held lengthwise.

Progression: Add rear-leg hip extension.

  • Hold same position and do one-arm rear fly with one end of bar on floor.

Progression: Do one-arm fly from plank position with wide legs.


  • Squat and hop with half turn R, then back to center.

Alignment Tips

  • Hinge forward from hips and keep spine long while rowing.
  • Maintain neutral spine during plank exercise.
  • When doing squat and hop, turn back in same direction to avoid moving in a circle.

Tips for Beginners

  • Do row without hip extension.
  • Do cardio move without hop and turn; simply squat in place.



  • Do one-arm biceps curl with bar held horizontally, R hand in middle of bar.
  • Do biceps curl with both arms, bar off center, R hand in middle of bar and L hand at end of bar.
  • Do biceps curl with both hands, bar centered.


  • Shuffle R 4 counts, squat and hop with quarter turn, hop back to center, repeat L.

Alignment Tips

  • Avoid using momentum during biceps curl.
  • Keep bar as steady as possible when doing one-arm curl.

Tips for Beginners

  • Execute each set of biceps curls with bar centered.
  • Step-touch R two times and L two times instead of shuffling, and squat instead of hopping at each end.

For more exercises, please see “Sample Class: Pump Up!” in the online IDEA Library or in the January 2014 print issue of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at (800) 999-4332, ext. 7.

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About the Author

Melissa Weigelt, MS

Melissa Weigelt, MS IDEA Author/Presenter

I am owner of Flow Fitness Training and provide AFAA and ACE approved continuing education programs for fitness instructors, specializing in strength training, stability training, functional fitness, and interval training. I am a National Master Trainer for BOSU. I have been teaching fitness for 20 years and love helping my students to be fit and healthy. I also truly enjoy sharing my knowledge with other fitness professionals.