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**If you haven’t checked out my guest post on Loving on the Run’s blog, please do so!  It includes tips for maintaining your health when your significant other eats differently than you.**

A few weeks ago, my cousin Michelle broke her leg while competing in a relay triathlon.  I felt terrible for her, and really wanted to help, but I didn’t think there was anything I could do … until she asked me to make her a training plan!!  Her determination to keep her arms and abs toned and her fitness levels high was inspiring, but I certainly didn’t want to hurt her!  So I did some research, tested out the moves on myself, and put together a two-part training plan for her.  She liked it, stayed safe, and even said she was “so sore” after the workouts!

I was thrilled to be able to help Michelle, but I didn’t even think about sharing the workouts with you all until I was recently looking for a quick, at-home strength workout that would get my heart rate up and work my arms.  I had a longer run the next day, and I didn’t want to wear out my legs, so I started thinking what I could do … of course!!!  Michelle’s workout!   (Sometimes I’m a little slow :)).  This workout is designed to put absolutely NO pressure on the legs, so it’s great for those with leg or knee injuries*, but it’s also great for those without injuries who just want to work their arms and abs!chi town half 4.1.12 7

You see, running is a great strengthening workout for my legs, and I usually fit in some planks or ab work after my runs (I recently started doing my Flat Abs in 5 Minutes workout again, and it’s awesome!! Go check it out if you haven’t yet!).  But the truth is, aside from my at-home (or hotel) circuit workouts, I don’t work my arms as much as I’d like to.

Are you the same way?  Are you looking for a quick, effective workout you can do at home, at the gym, or in a hotel room?  Well then, let’s get going!  I set this workout up using one set of light weights, one set of medium, and one set of heavy weights (I used 5, 8, and 10 lb. weights).  If you don’t have those, though, you can use just one set of weights, or even a really heavy pair of water bottles!  Enjoy (and let me know if you do!) Burnin Arms and Abs Circuit The Lyons Share

Burnin’ Arms and Abs Circuit Workout: Exercise Explanations and Video Links

  1. Speedbag: at about face level, rotate your fists forward rapidly as if you were hitting a speedbag
  2. Jabs: alternate arms
  3. Cross-jabs: alternate arms
  4. Hooks: alternate arms
  5. Arm runs: in squat position, mimic arm motion of running very rapidly, holding light weights
  6. Chest press
  7. Tricep skull crushers
  8. Bicep curls
  9. Hammer curls (hammer curls start 1 minute into video)
  10. Straight-arm side raises
  11. Straight-arm front raises (same thing as side raises, but arms go straight in front)
  12. Lateral raise with bent arms (same thing as side raises, but arms are bent 90 degrees)
  13. Overhead press
  14. Arm circles
  15. Mason twists
  16. Slow crunches: like a normal crunch motion, but move slowly and deliberately
  17. Side-to-side crunches
  18. Back extensions (or “supermans”)
  19. Toe touches
  20. Oblique bends: seated on chair, hold weights

*I am not a trainer, doctor, or physical therapist, so please consult with your doctor if you do actually have a leg injury.

So tell me in the comments … Do you usually work one part of the body at a time, or do you prefer circuit workouts?  What’s the best workout you’ve done this week so far?



  1. Davida @ The Healthy Maven on October 9, 2013 at 6:49 am

    thank you thank you thank you! You answered my prayers! I’ve had a hard time finding upper body exercises that don’t hurt my leg. This workout is absolutely perfect. Pinned!
    Davida @ The Healthy Maven recently posted…Apple Pie BitesMy Profile

    • Megan Lyons on October 9, 2013 at 7:31 am

      Aw, I’m so glad! I was actually surprised by how many ab exercises involved legs once I started thinking about it, so I hope this helps! Of course, don’t do anything that hurts your leg 🙂

  2. Sara @ LovingOnTheRun on October 9, 2013 at 7:36 am

    I am here to say that I love the exercises!! Megan was kind enough to share some of them with me when she knew I was injured and I was so grateful!!

    These are awesome!
    Sara @ LovingOnTheRun recently posted…Guest Post: Maintaining Your Health When Your Significant Other Eats DifferentlyMy Profile

    • Megan Lyons on October 9, 2013 at 7:43 am

      Thanks Sara – I’m glad you got to enjoy them, too! So sad how so many people I care about got injured at the same time :(. But your dedication to your arms and abs is impressive, as I’ve seen in your weekly recaps!

  3. Michelle Q. on October 9, 2013 at 7:51 am

    Thanks Megan! Let’s catch up this weekend!

    • Megan Lyons on October 9, 2013 at 8:06 am

      I can’t wait! Hope you’re doing well!

  4. Amy @ Long Drive Journey on October 9, 2013 at 8:00 am

    This is GREAT, Megan! I literally just planned an arm workout for the gym tomorrow morning and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. Any idea about how long this one should take? This will be a perfect rest for my knee!
    Amy @ Long Drive Journey recently posted…Meal Planning, Food Prep, and Follow ThroughMy Profile

    • Megan Lyons on October 9, 2013 at 8:09 am

      I’m so glad it will help, Amy! It should be about 25 minutes, give or take a bit.

  5. Gary on October 9, 2013 at 10:03 am

    Meg: For half a century, I have given my legs an almost daily workout of running but I have been an absolute failure when it comes to providing my arms with anything more than dragging out the trash barrels twice a week. As I expect that the amount of my running may decrease (perhaps, only a bit?) during the next half century, this upper body workout you suggest has my name written all over it. When I am so sore that I can’t pick up a pencil, you WILL be hearing from me! Thanks. – Gary

    • Megan Lyons on October 9, 2013 at 10:32 am

      Don’t be silly, Gary, you will be outrunning Kevin and I for decades to come :). I really think that runners especially can benefit from a little upper body strength – we focus so much on the legs and forget about the other half!

  6. Karen on October 9, 2013 at 10:43 am

    After my walk down the JMO road, I’m all about trying this circuit.
    Thank you for encouraging the arms and abs – I HOPE it helps my golf swing??

    • Megan Lyons on October 9, 2013 at 11:37 am

      Way to go for walking AND doing arm weights! As you know, I’m REALLY not a golf expert, so I have no idea if this will help … but it sure can’t hurt!!

  7. Caitlin on October 9, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    i love combining arms and abs! thank you for this great workout!

    • Megan Lyons on October 9, 2013 at 2:13 pm

      I’m glad you like it Caitlin!

  8. Jillienne @ ChasingRaspberries on October 9, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    I was just thinking I should workout my arms tonight at the gym! I am pretty sure my arms will be jelly after this routine!
    Jillienne @ ChasingRaspberries recently posted…The Honest Company + GiveawayMy Profile

    • Megan Lyons on October 9, 2013 at 2:14 pm

      I hope you like it! Mine were total jelly after the workout, but then I was surprisingly not sore the next day … I was kinda bummed :). Let me know how it goes!

  9. Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table on October 9, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    Those slow crunches are killer! When ever I need to make something harder, I just do it slow. Hurts so good…
    Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table recently posted…PB & Pear Eggs + WIAWMy Profile

    • Megan Lyons on October 9, 2013 at 10:52 pm

      Yes! Most exercises are harder if you go slower! If only running slower were harder :). It’s a great tip, though – I only have 10 lb weights max at home, so if I feel I needed to go harder I could just go slower. Thanks!

  10. Christine @ Gotta Eat Green on October 10, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    Umm this is an immediate print!! Haha I’ve been looking for a good arm workout AND ab workout so this is perfect. Ab workouts are so brutal but I’m always happy when I get them done.
    Christine @ Gotta Eat Green recently posted…Pumpkin Apple Crisp [Vegan and Gluten Free]My Profile

  11. […] You have to try Megan’s arm and ab workout.  I did it at the gym this morning along with my glute strengthening workout, and it was the […]

  12. Laurie on October 11, 2013 at 5:24 am

    Looks like a great workout, Meg! Coming from someone who trains upper body at least twice a week, I say bravo 🙂

    • Megan Lyons on October 11, 2013 at 8:13 am

      Good for you, Laurie! Way to stay balanced.

  13. Katie on October 11, 2013 at 11:06 am

    As I was erasing my whiteboards the other day I saw my upper arms flap around. Gross. Time to try this workout!!

    • Megan Lyons on October 11, 2013 at 3:11 pm

      Katie, you are NOT gross!!! Almost everyone has a little arm “flap” (isn’t that word just unappealing?), but strength training is the ONLY way to get rid of it. Unfortunately, that’s just a thing that happens to women unless we’re super diligent about strength training :(. Hope you like the workout!

  14. Shawn @ Fruity 'N' Nutty on October 13, 2013 at 3:39 am

    Thanks so much for sharing this workout. Wish I had someone to create something like this for me when I injured my foot and couldn’t run. Saving this for a rainy day, but fingers crossed that an injury won’t prevent me from running ever again.
    Shawn @ Fruity ‘N’ Nutty recently posted…Age Is But A NumberMy Profile

    • Megan Lyons on October 14, 2013 at 7:36 pm

      Oh no, Shawn, I’m so sorry that you were injured. I hope that an injury doesn’t sidetrack you, too, but even if you want to work on upper body/ core strength when you’re not injured, this one would work! 🙂

  15. […] a month ago, I shared my “Burnin’ Arms and Abs” workout, which I created for my cousin Michelle as she was recovering from her broken leg.  Well, today is […]

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