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Bored at the gym? Here’s how to super-size your lower-body workout

The question: I want to mix up my leg routine for summer. Currently I do three sets of 12 reps of lunges, leg presses and a few others on the leg machines in the gym. I am bored. Any suggestions?

The answer: There are virtually endless and fun training possibilities, so you don't ever need to be bored!

Try what I call jumbo timed sets. Depending on your fitness level, start with a six-, eight- or 10-minute set. Pick three different exercises; let's say squat presses, stability-ball hamstring curls and V-twists. Cycle through the three exercises as many times as you can, doing 10 reps of each exercise, for the entire duration of the set. Rest, then continue to do as many sets as possible. As your fitness improves, use heavier weights, increase the number of times you cycle through the exercises or increase the duration of the set.

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  • Squat press: Hold dumbbells at shoulder height, one in each hand. Sit backward, like you are sitting into a chair. As you stand, engage your bum and push the weights upward. Lower the weights, and repeat 10 times.
  • Stability-ball hamstring curls: Start on your back, legs straight, feet on a stability ball. Use your bum to lift your hips. Then, bend your knees to pull the ball in and out 10 times.
  • V-twists: Start seated. Hinge backward at your hips, back straight, core engaged. Twist your torso side to side 10 times.

You can also try to include more cardio. Start with 10 minutes on any cardio machine, or, if you are at the cottage (yes, you can work out on vacation), walk or jog. Then, do the timed set. Do another 10 minutes of cardio before you repeat the timed set. Finish with 10 more minutes of cardio and a stretch.

Trainer's tip: The best part of timed sets is they can be done anywhere – in a hotel room or even at the cottage. Basically, you have no excuses to skip your workout!

Kathleen Trotter has been a personal trainer and Pilates equipment specialist for 10 years. Her website is www.kathleentrotter.com.

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