Quick Results! Chest, Back, Shoulders, Legs

by Carol Murphy on May 25, 2011

If you want to offer quick, exciting, results-driven experiences for participants, Triple Threat! is your class formula. This workout uses three forms of resistance, three different exercises and three sets of 8–24 reps that target each of the major muscle groups. The cookie-cutter template can be adapted to fit participants’ goals and the equipment available. You can easily insert different moves into the chest, back, shoulders and legs categories to keep the class fresh. Triple Threat! is effective, time-efficient, integrated and multidimensional.

Each sequence consists of four exercises that target the chest, back, shoulders and legs. The number of repetitions will vary depending on goals, but normally participants perform 8–24 repetitions per exercise. After the first sequence (four exercises in a row, 8–24 repetitions each), everyone rests for 30–45 seconds before performing the second sequence—and so on.

Triple Threat! Details
total-body strength
Total Time: a time-efficient 45 minutes
Equipment: dumbbells and stability balls
Music: 135 beats per minute (bpm) during the warm-up, 125–132 bpm afterward

A note about ball sizing: In a sitting position on the ball, knees should be level with the hips. Begin each exercise with light weight or no weight. Once students have mastered the movement pattern, gradually increase resistance. When using dumbbells for seated exercises on the ball, the goal is muscular endurance.

Warm-Up (~5 minutes)
Perform rhythmic, continuous, full-range-of-motion movements that mimic the upcoming moves. Include gentle static stretches through functional range of motion. Do 8–16 repetitions of each of the following:

  • two squats with two lateral raises
  • two hip hinges with two biceps curls
  • two right-leg lunges with two shoulder presses
  • two hip hinges with two external shoulder rotations
  • two left-leg lunges with two shoulder rolls
  • parallel squats with side raises
  • spinal flexion and extension while in squat

Work Phase (~35 minutes)
This phase should consist of three different sequences. Here is one sample sequence:

One-Arm Chest Press From Bridge Position
  • Lie with shoulders on ball. Bend knees at 90 degrees and place feet hip distance apart. Lift hips so torso is parallel with floor. Hold one dumbbell in each hand, elbows extended directly above shoulders.
  • Slowly flex elbow, open elbow wide, and lower one dumbbell down to chest level while stabilizing other in press position.
  • Press lowered dumbbell up and repeat, using opposite arm.
Variation: Add mobility. Press dumbbell up as you rotate shoulder blade off ball.

Single-Leg Two-Arm Row

  • Balancing on one leg, hinge at hip until back is at 45-degree angle to ground. Keep support foot pointing straight ahead, knee slightly flexed and centered over foot. Extend arms, holding dumbbells beneath shoulders.
  • Initiate scapular retraction and row dumbbells. Flex elbows and bring weights toward hips. Slowly return to starting position.
Variation: For more stability, keep both feet on ground.
Teaching Tips: Maintain neutral spinal alignment. Keep elbows stacked above dumbbells throughout motion.

Standing Two-Arm Raise

  • Begin with feet parallel, shoulder width apart. Hold dumbbells at sides, palms facing sides of thighs; flex knees slightly.
  • Lift dumbbells to sides, away from body, until hands reach shoulder level. Slowly return arms to sides.

Dumbbell Squat

  • Begin with feet parallel, shoulder width apart.
  • Slowly squat, bending knees and flexing hips. Aim buttocks back and keep chest lifted.
  • Contract glutes to stand; press through heels as knees extend.
Teaching Tips: Maintain neutral spine. Avoid internal rotation at hips or knees.

Finish workout with a stretching series (~5 minutes) for the chest, back, anterior/posterior deltoids, hamstrings, hip flexors and quadriceps.

For more information, please see “Sample Class: Triple Threat!” in the online IDEA Library or in the April 2011 issue of IDEA Fitness Journal.

IDEA Fit Tips, Volume 9, Issue 6

© 2011 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Carol Murphy

Carol Murphy IDEA Author/Presenter

Carol Murphy, 2010 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year, is the education director for Drums Alive USA and Canada and team leader for Flexi-Sports. A veteran of more than 19 DVD's, known for her infec...


  • Log In to Comment
  • Brinda Desai

    Nothing beats a straight forward no frills workout when you want a job done quick and effectively!
    Commented Mar 08, 2014
  • Brinda Desai

    Nothing beats a straight forward no frills workout when you want a job done quick and effectively!
    Commented Mar 08, 2014
  • Connie Brown

    jow lee, These exercises are perfect for some of my clients. Carol Murphy has suggested an excellent format to use and is offering exercise suggestions only. You can insert many different exercises here based on your particular clients needs. To comment that this is a "lame workout" and that the exercises are "Just boring" is not a very productive one. Just saying....
    Commented May 29, 2013
  • jow lee

    Pretty lame workout and ending two exercises are just boring. The Single-Leg Two Arm Row is better with the free leg extended back. That way the back can hinge forward more for better gravitational direction for the rowing.
    Commented Jun 09, 2011

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