Published: Nov 05, 2010 12:37 PM EDT
Updated: Nov 05, 2010 9:37 AM EDT

CAPE CORAL, Fla. - What if we told you there was a workout that will jack your metabolism, tone your entire body and build unparalleled strength in just 20 minutes? What if we also told you that pro athletes have been secretly using this workout for years? No, we're not joking. We're talking about plyometrics - fast, powerful exercises designed to boost athletic performance - and we're here to show you how to get in on the action.

Adding a quick 20-to-30-minute workout like this one can help maximize your strength gains. The moves that follow engage muscle groups in your core and lower and upper body - at times simultaneously. Plus they'll develop your eccentric strength (when a muscle contracts and lengthens under tension), an important component of injury prevention.

This highly adaptable routine can be tackled at any fitness level and is great to do with a partner. Ask a Gold's Gym personal trainer to demonstrate any unfamiliar moves.

Do two sets of each of these exercises in this order, resting for one to two minutes between each set.

Single/Double Stair Hops

10 reps

Targets: quads, glutes

Hop up stairs one or two at a time. When you reach the top, walk down.

Our expert says: "A flight of stairs is optimal to keep the movement rhythmic, which enhances the stretch reflex to promote better reaction time and speed."

Burpees

10 reps

Targets: upper and lower body, core

Start in a squat position with your hands on the floor in front of you. Kick your feet back to a pushup position and do one full pushup. Immediately bring feet back to the squat position. Jump up on toes with arms overhead. That's one rep.

Our expert says: "To modify this exercise, just jump back in the pushup position, without lowering the body to the ground, then quickly stand up without the jump."

 

Alternating Split Squat Jumps With Dumbbell

20 reps

Targets: upper and lower body

Stand with your feet staggered about two feet apart as if you were about to lunge. Hold a pair of light dumbbells by your sides, palms facing behind you. Lower into a lunge, bending the knees until the back knee is almost touching the ground. Then jump in the air, switching the front leg. During the upward motion of the jump, perform one clean swing with the dumbbells up above your head.

Our expert says: "The split squat is a very effective exercise for gaining strength in the legs and glutes, and adding your arms creates a full-body movement. The more muscle you access at one time, the more calories you burn."

 

Alternating Box Push-off With Shoulder Press

20 reps

Targets: upper and lower body

Stand on the ground and place your left foot on a 12-inch plyometrics box, with your heel close to the edge, and hold a pair of light dumbbells at shoulder level. Push off with your left foot to explode vertically, pressing dumbbells overhead as you jump, and land with feet reversed.

Our expert says: "Always wanted a better vertical jump? Box push-offs are the perfect way to work on your height."

Side-to-Side Box Shuffle With Dumbbell Punch

20 reps

Targets: upper and lower body

Grab a pair of light dumbbells and a small box. Move over the box from side to side with quick, low jumps. As you jump, alternately punch forward with a dumbbell in your hand, using the same-side arm and leg.

Our expert says: "Most gym exercises are based on front-to-back movements and not a lot of side to side, so you're accessing your muscles in a different way."

Medicine-Ball Kneeling Side Throw

10 reps each side

Targets: core

Start in a kneeling position, holding a medicine ball with both hands. Twist your core and throw the ball sideways to a wall or a partner, using your abs to move the ball and not your arms.

Our expert says: "The kneeling position in this exercise will help to isolate your obliques more than if you were standing."

Medicine-Ball Wood Chops

10 reps each side

Targets: core

Start with feet more than hip width apart. Hold a medicine ball by your left hip with both hands. Turn your torso to the right and lift the ball above your head on the right. Move it from high to low across your body, ending on the left side, as if you were chopping wood. Do 10 on one side, then switch.

Our expert says: "Wood chops not only increase strength in the core but also add a flexibility element while getting the heart rate up."

Sit-Up Medicine-Ball Throw With Partner

10 reps

Targets: core

Sit facing a partner, holding a medicine ball in both hands. Lie back with the ball overhead and tap the floor behind you. As you sit up, immediately throw the ball to your partner from overhead. Your partner should catch the ball in front of his head.

Our expert says: "Doing exercises with a partner makes it more fun and competitive, plus it helps with reflexes and forces you to move quicker."