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OCTOBER 20, 2005
Boot Camp Workout Boosts Fitness

Each week, thousands of women gather in groups to participate in outdoor boot camp workouts available across the country. These gentler versions of military-inspired workouts offer an adrenaline-inducing alternative to typical cardio-strength regimens. "The idea is to break fitness outside of the gym," says Stacy Berman, New York fitness expert and founder of Stacy's Boot Camp ( "You get to enjoy the outdoors while challenging yourself."

Women often get caught up doing just cardiovascular training. "They have a healthy heart and burn calories, but most women want to tighten and tone muscles, particularly in their triceps, buttocks, and tummy. To get that, they need to do strength training as well," says Berman.

Berman's boot camp is typical of those offered by fitness pros and recreation departments from coast to coast. After a 5-10 minute warm-up jog, her students alternate cardiovascular exercise (jogging in the park, sprinting up and down stairs, stepping up and down off of park benches) with strength training (push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, dips off benches), followed by a cool down and stretching.

Boot Camp Workout
If you want to try boot camp on your own, do the following program designed by Stacy Berman, which includes easier and harder versions of basic exercises.

Do 1 minute of a cardiovascular exercise (jog in place, jumping jacks, jog in place with high knees) in between each of the following strength exercises. Do 10-15 repetitions of each strength exercise.

Squat thrusts (works almost every muscle) -- Stand up straight. Place your hands on the floor in front of your feet and immediately throw your feet back into a push-up position. Without pausing, jump your feet forward to behind your hands and stand straight up. Easier version -- place your hands on a bench or low step in front of you. Harder version -- once you are in the push-up position, do a push up, then jump your feet forward. As you stand up straight again, jump straight up and land in a squat.

Push-ups (works chest, shoulders, triceps, and abdominals) - Do a standard push-up. Easier -- place your knees on the floor and hands on a bench. Harder -- bring your hands together so that thumbs and forefingers make a diamond shape. As you push up, lift your hands off the floor.

Squats (works leg muscles) - Stand straight up, then lower your body (as if you were sitting in a chair) so that your knees bend 90 degrees. Push your buttocks back and keep your chest up, stomach tight, and knees over your toes. Return to straight up standing position. Easier -- lower down to where you are comfortable, less than 90 degrees. Harder -- from the 90-degree squat position, jump 1 inch off the floor and land back in a squat. As you advance, jump higher, or do a one-legged squat.

Dips (works chest, shoulders, and triceps) -- Sit on a chair or bench. Place your hands on the chair or bench by your sides with your legs straight out, heels on the floor. Push down on your hands and lift your buttocks off the chair or bench. Shift forward slightly with hips below shoulders, elbows pointed back, chest up. Lower yourself down to a 90-degree bend in your elbows, then push back up to straighten your arms. Easier -- bend your legs with feet flat on the floor. Harder -- place your heels on a low step or a large rubber ball, not the floor, which adds in core stabilization.

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