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Some group fitness classes definitely make us work harder than we would on our own, but in others, we barely break a sweat. Thankfully MetCon3, an interval-based, total-body class offered at Equinox gyms, fell into the first group: Afterward we were soaked in sweat and feeling a lot stronger (OK, and more sore) than when we walked in.

The workout is based on metabolic conditioning, a type of interval training designed to improve the storage and delivery of energy by engaging the body's metabolic systems. Studies show this type of high-intensity interval-style training can boost aerboic fitness as much as longer cardio sessions and improve muscular endurance and increase metabolism more than cardio can by itself. Extremely low volume, whole-body aerobic-resistance training improves aerobic fitness and muscular endurance in females. McRae G, Payne A, Zelt JG. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 2012, Sep.;37(6):1715-5312. Similar metabolic adaptations during exercise after low volume sprint interval and traditional endurance training in humans. Burgomaster KA, Howarth KR, Phillips SM. The Journal of Physiology, 2007, Nov.;586(1):0022-3751.

This may all sound super intense, but the circuit, created by John Cianca, a certified trainer and Equinox group fitness instructor, is actually pretty simple: It's three rounds of 10 moves, followed by three bonus moves for a final metabolic boost. All you need is a set of medium-weight dumbbells (choose a weight that feels challenging yet still allows you to maintain proper form).

How it works: Complete 3 sets of the following exercises in order. Perform each exercise for 1 minute with no rest between exercises. Rest 60 to 90 seconds between sets. After you complete 3 sets, perform 20 reps of the three "metabolic finishers", which will spike your heart rate. (The whole workout takes about 45 minutes.) Scroll down for full descriptions of each move.

MetCon3 Interval Training Workout
Reverse Lunge Curl

1. Reverse Lunge Curl to Balance

Stand with dumbbells at your sides. Step left leg back into a lunge so right knee is at a 90-degree angle. Curl dumbbells up, then lower down. Return to standing, lifing left knee so upper leg is parallel with the ground as you balance on right leg. Repeat for 30 seconds, then switch sides.

Man Maker

2. Man Maker

Stand in a wide stance holding dumbbells in front of your legs. Lower down into a squat position until weights reach the ground. Jump (or step) back into a plank position. Pull left hand up toward your chest (like a row), engaging upper back muscles and keeping elbow close to your torso. Lower dumbbell and repeat with right hand. Jump (or step) forward to a wide squat. Stand, curling dumbbells up and then pressing overhead.

Skater

3. Skater

Holding one dumbbell vertically in front of you in both hands, jump to the left, shifting dumbbell in front of left hip and keeping right foot off the ground. Jump back to the right, shifting dumbbell in front of right hip and keeping left foot off the ground. Continue jumping from one foot to the other, passing the weight in front of you from one hip to the other.

Side Squat

4. Side-to-Side Curtsy Squat

Stand holding dumbbells at your shoulders (you can also rest them on shoulders or hold them by your sides). Keeping hips facing forward, step right leg behind the left at a diagonal and bend knees, lowering body. Return to starting position. Curtsy squat to the right. Continue alternating sides.

Push-Up to Side Plank

5. Push-Up to Side Plank

Starting in a high plank position, lower your chest down to the ground then push back up. Keeping hips high, come into a left side plank, shifting weight into left hand, rolling onto sides of feet, and lifting right hand toward the ceiling. Lower back to high plank, repeat push-up movement, and come into a right side plank, lifting left arm toward the ceiling. Continue alternating sides.

Burpee

6. Burpee

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bring hands down to the floor. Jump back into plank position and do 1 push-up. Jump feet forward, then jump up, reaching hands toward the ceiling.

Lateral Lunge

7. Lateral Lunge With Reach

Holding one dumbbell vertically in front of you in both hands, step right leg out into a lateral lunge, keeping left leg straight. Extend both arms in front of you, keeping a neutral spine and pushing hips back as you lower down. Bring dumbbell back in, then return to starting position. Repeat for 30 seconds, then switch sides.

Single-Leg Deadlift

8. Single-Leg Deadlift Row

Stand holding dumbbells. Lift left foot off the ground, then hinge forward at the hips, keeping a straight, neutral spine and hips square to the ground. When torso is parallel with the ground, pull dumbbells toward chest, engaging upper back muscles and keeping elbows close to torso. Lower dumbbells and return to starting position, squeezing your glutes and bringing left knee in front of you so upper leg is parallel with the ground. Repeat for 30 seconds, then switch sides.

Skater

9. Skater

Holding one dumbbell vertically in front of you in both hands, jump to the left, shifting dumbbell in front of left hip and keeping right foot off the ground. Jump back to the right, shifting dumbbell in front of right hip and keeping left foot off the ground. Continue jumping from one foot to the other, passing the weight in front of you from one hip to the other.

V-Sit Rotation

10. V-Sit Rotation

Sit with knees slightly bent, keeping feet on the ground floor (or raise feet to increase difficulty) and maintaining a neutral spine. Hold one dumbbell vertically in front of you in both hands and twist from side to side.

Metabolic Finishers

High Knees

1. High Knees

Bring knees up to hip-height in a running fashion. Do 20 reps per side.

Mountain Climbers

2. Mountain Climber

In a high plank position, drive knees forward between your hands, alternating sides. (You can rest hands on weights to allow your feet more room to move around.) Do 20 reps per side.

Star Jacks

3. Star Jack

Squat with feet close together and hands in front of you, close to your body. Jump up and extend your arms out and widen your feet in the air. Land softly in starting position with knees bent to avoid hyperextension. Do 20 reps.

Special thanks to John Cianca, who created the workout and modeled the moves, and our friends at Lululemon for outfitting him!

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