Sample Class: Triple Threat!

by Carol Murphy on Mar 23, 2011

Class Take-Out

Try out this easy-to-learn, simple-to-implement workout.

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

Format: 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)

Sequence One: 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.

Sequence Two
Two-Arm Chest Flye—Incline Position
  • Place ball under lower back, positioning body at an incline. Bend knees to 90 degrees, feet hip distance apart. Extend arms toward ceiling, dumbbells balanced over shoulders.
  • Open arms outward until level with chest. Return to starting position, pulling weights toward midline.

Variation: Add mobility. Perform a crunch once dumbbells have returned to starting position.

Lat Pullover–Bridge
  • Lie supine with ball under shoulder blades; lift hips so torso is parallel with floor. Position knees at 90 degrees, feet hip distance apart.
  • Extend arms and stack dumbbells directly over shoulders. Control movement with shoulder extensors as weights drop back. Slowly lower arms toward floor. Return to starting position.

Teaching Tip: Maintain stable torso.

Incline Shoulder Press
  • Place lower back on ball, positioning body at an incline. Bend knees at 90 degrees, feet hip distance apart. Extend arms toward ceiling, dumbbells balanced over shoulders.
  • Lower elbows toward hips, arms parallel to body. Press dumbbells up; return to starting position.

Teaching Tip: Keep elbows stacked under wrists.

Bridge Hip Extension
  • Lie supine with shoulder blades on ball. Lift hips so torso is parallel to floor. Position knees at 90 degrees, feet hip distance apart.
  • Lower and lift hips with control.

Variation: Lift one leg.

Teaching Tip: Keep knees stacked over ankles (keep ball still).

Sequence Three
Prone-Plank Wide-Grip Push-Up
Starting Position:
  • Place ball beneath shins or reduce load by placing ball beneath thighs. Position body in starting position for push-up. Stack shoulders over wrists (keep them stacked).
  • Rotate palms in, and lower into bottom of push-up (elbows will move outward).

Variation: Lift one leg, maintaining neutral spine.

Teaching Tip: Think of pulling your body forward as you push it up, shoulder blades pinched together.

Lat Roll-Out—Kneeling
  • Kneel in front of ball, hands on top. Precontract core stabilizers to establish and maintain neutral spinal alignment.
  • Roll ball forward, keeping hips stacked over knees, arms straight.
  • Return to starting position by using lats to pull arms down as you draw ball back, bringing torso to upright kneeling position.

Variation: For greater challenge, maintain extended hip position.

Incline Narrow-Grip Push-Up
  • Kneel in front of ball, hands on top, hips extended. Maintain neutral spine.
  • Bend elbows as you lower body toward ball. Extend elbows and return to start.

Variation: For greater challenge, with arms straight, lift knees off floor and do push-ups.

Teaching Tip: Keep arms close to sides in order to focus on shoulders and triceps.

  • Leg Curl—Supine Elevated-Leg Position
  • Lie on back, heels on top of ball, knees extended. Place hands near sides, palms down.
  • Lift hips off floor and pull heels toward you.

Variation: Lift one leg.

Teaching Tips: Keep knees aligned with feet. Maintain neutral spine.

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


Clark, M., & Corn, R. 2004. NASM Optimum Performance Training for the Fitness Professional (2nd ed.). Calabasas, California: National Academy of Sports Medicine.

Morris, M., Morris, S., & Murphy, C. 2009. Resist-A-Ball Instructor Manual. Mad Dogg Athletics.

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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 infectious energy, results oriented workouts and passion to make fitness fun-Carol’s innovative classes and fitness training programs have been featured in magazines, fitness centers and at conventions world-wide. Carol has authored more than 50 instructor training courses, lectures and articles and holds seven national certifications including ACSM, NASM, ACE , AFAA and CanFitPro.