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Try A Les Mills Workout On For Size With This Five-Move Circuit

Anthony Oxford
(Image credit: Anthony Oxford)

This five-move circuit is short and sweaty. Designed by Les Mills presenter and instructor Anthony Oxford, it’s based on the high-intensity interval training (HIIT) drills that Les Mills GRIT classes have become known for. 

“This combination of short, intense bursts of effort using full-body, functional movements with minimal rest will fire up your fast-twitch muscle fibres and help build lean muscle,” says Oxford. 

Oxford suggests using this workout twice a week to improve your aerobic fitness in short order. It might last only nine minutes but it’ll keep your body burning calories long after you finish the final rep.

The Workout

You need a light to medium barbell for this circuit. The goal is to get your heart rate high by hitting maximum reps, rather than by clinching a new PB, so don’t get cocky with the weights. 

Once you’ve completed a thorough warm-up, familiarise yourself with each exercise, taking time to get the technique right. When ready, perform each exercise for just 30 seconds and move straight on to the next. Rest for 30 seconds after the final mountain climber, then repeat the circuit two more times. That’s it.

“Take small breaks of rest as needed,” says Oxford. “But challenge yourself to keep going for the full 2½ minutes. If you’re resting several times during the round, the weight is too heavy.” Next time you perform the workout, increase the weight slightly (if you got it right the first time around, of course) or add an extra round.

1 Front squat

Front squat

(Image credit: Getty Images / FatCamera)

Time 30sec

Start with your feet just wider than hip-width apart and hold the barbell level with your upper chest in a front rack position, with your palms and elbows facing forwards. Keep your elbows high throughout to help keep your chest up and back flat. Take a deep breath and brace your core, then push your hips back as you lower until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Exhale as you drive back up to standing, and repeat. 

Oxford says: “Squats are a fundamental movement pattern using all the major muscle groups in the lower body and core.” 

2 Reverse lunge and press

Time 30sec

This one will challenge your balance as much as your strength. With the bar in a front rack position, as described above, take a big step backwards into a reverse lunge. As you lower, press the barbell overhead. Ensure you don’t twist your hips or shoulders to keep you stable. Lower the barbell and return to the start, then repeat on your other side. 

Oxford says: “This full-body movement is a great test for your glutes, quads, hamstrings, core, shoulders and, most of all, co-ordination.” 

3 Bent-over row

Time 30sec

Hold the bar with palms facing you and hands just wider than shoulder-width apart. Retract your shoulder blades to engage your upper-back muscles, then hinge at your hips to lean forwards slightly. Keep looking down and pull the bar towards your bellybutton, then lower under control until your arms are extended. If your back starts to feel tight, stand straight for a couple seconds to release any tension, then continue. 

Oxford says: “Switch your grip in each round to target slightly different muscles. In round two, do it with palms facing away. In round three, use a wider grip.”

4 Press-up

Time 30sec

Place your hands on the floor just wider than shoulder width-apart.  Keeping your shoulders, hips and ankles in alignment, and with your core braced, lower your chest until just off the floor, then drive back up. Use your breathing to help: breathe in at the top to brace your core, and exhale powerfully as you press the floor away. 

Oxford says: “If press-ups are your kryptonite, modify this exercise by placing your hands on a raised step or bench or by dropping onto your knees to make it easier.”

5 Mountain climber

Time 30sec

Start in the top of a press-up position with hands directly below your shoulders, remembering to keep your hips low and in line with your shoulders and ankles throughout, rather than sticking your bum in the air. Drive one knee forwards until it’s level with your hands, then return to the start and repeat with the other knee. Continue alternating.

Oxford says: “Mountain climbers are dynamic and will challenge all the muscles of your core while driving up your heart rate.” 

Sam Rider is an experienced freelance journalist, specialising in health, fitness and wellness. For over a decade he's reported on Olympic Games, CrossFit Games and World Cups, and quizzed luminaries of elite sport, nutrition and strength and conditioning. Sam is also a REPS level 3 qualified personal trainer, online coach and founder of Your Daily Fix (opens in new tab). Sam is also Coach’s designated reviewer of massage guns and fitness mirrors.