The 8-Minute Workout Circuit: Chest and Back

by Brook Benten Jimenez on November 5, 2020 in Lifestyle, Sports, Wellness,
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Most of us find that our posture could stand a tune-up.

Two major muscle groups that seriously affect your posture are your pecs (aka chest) and back. These 6 exercises repeated through two circuits will help strengthen those muscles and, perhaps, have you sporting that proud posture that your mother always wanted for you!
Although this workout is suitable for all fitness levels, the intensity is high—especially the super-metabolic last two exercises! See the options for easier alternatives.

Equipment Needed: 1 set of medium to heavy dumbbells | Time Commitment: 8 minutes | Intensity: High

Follow along the 8 Minute Chest & Back Circuit with this video:

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8 Minute Chest & Back Circuit

Perform 40 seconds of each of the following moves.  Perform 2 sets through this circuit.

Exercise 1: Reverse Flys

Tip forward at your hips with your torso and pull your butt toward the back wall. (This is called the deadlift position). Maintain this posture with your legs and torso. With dumbbells in your hands, exhale and pull your arms out like wings, then resist gravity as you inhale and draw them back in together. (On set 1, turn your thumbs up. On set 2, turn the thumbs down.)

Exercise 2: Chest Presses

Lay back on the floor or mat with your belly facing up. With dumbbells in your hands, bend your elbows to 90 degrees and hover them right above the floor.  Exhale as you press the dumbbells up above your sternum. Inhale as you lower them to the starting position.

Exercise 3: Renegade Rows

Assume a high plank position with a dumbbell in each hand. Place your legs hip-width apart. Lift one dumbbell and pull it to your ribcage, without significantly shifting your hips. Lower that dumbbell back to the ground. Lift the other dumbbell to your ribcage, then lower it back to the ground.

Exercise 4: Push-Ups

Safely release your dumbbells, so that you’re working with body weight only. Assume a high plank position with hands slightly wider than your shoulders. Inhale, bend your elbows and drop your body to hover above the ground. Hold momentarily, then exhale and extend your elbows to push-up to starting position.
*Option: Drop your knees to the floor. If you select this modification, use a mat or towel to cushion your knees.

Exercise 5: Superman to Hee Haw

Exercise 5 Step 1

From a high plank position, drop your body down to the ground and lift both hands (make it harder by lifting both fee, as well).

Exercise 5 Step 2

Pop up to all fours, then hoist your heels up like a donkey kicking his hind legs.
*Option: After dropping your body down to the ground, lift only one arm and the opposite leg– this is gentler on the lower back. Next, draw your feet in to all fours with knees hovering above the floor. Hold momentarily, then repeat. This option is demonstrated in the video.

Exercise 6: Burpee with Push-Up

Exercise 6 Step 1

Stand up, straight and tall, then tuck down into a deep squat and touch your fingertips to the floor. Thrust out to a plank on your hands. Perform one push-up on your knees or toes. Return to deep squat, touching your fingertips to the floor.

Exercise 6 Step 2

Vertical leap into the air.
*Option: Perform the push-up on your knees. Omit the vertical leap.

Exercises 5 and 6 are highly metabolic and you will be winded after knocking out 40 seconds of each, back to back. Not to worry, your heart rate will come down as you work. Progress back to the top of the circuit (Exercise 1) and notice how you recover as you work–it’s called an “active” recovery.  However, if you feel that you need a rest–a “passive” recovery– just press the pause button on the video, take as long as you need to recharge, then unpause and complete the encore performance!


Cover photo courtesy Brook Benten Jimenez

Brook Benten Jimenez, M. Ed., a fitness expert in Georgetown, TX, is a workout video star, choreographer, fitness writer and continuing education provider. Brook leads high energy LiveStream workout classes including Metabolic Blast (dumbbells & bench), Arms & Abs (bodyweight only), and Performance Indoor Cycling. Register here for any of Brook’s workouts.