Sara Haley's Daily Exercise Plan ~ 12 Moves in 20 Minutes for 20 Pounds in 2012

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Sara Haley Celebrity Fitness ExpertDuring the holidays we all embraced family and loved ones while spreading cheer, exchanging gifts and curling up by the fire. While all that was nice we also overspent and overindulged on comfort foods and fatty treats, making it no coincidence that most women dedicated at least one New Year’s resolution to shedding that unwanted "winter coat".

Celebrity fitness expert and brand new mommy, Sara Haley ( has developed a great workout for the New Year that can be done in just 20 minutes promising, if done correctly and consistently, to help you shed that extra 20lbs to feel great as we roll into spring and all year long! Complete with modifications, added challenges and a 2012 benefit breakdown, this workout will kick your butt in all the right ways.

12 moves in 20 minutes for 20lbs in 2012

Each exercise is performed 20 times and some require one set of 12 lb. free weights. Throw exercises, with the exception of the 2012 Hustle warm-up, into a hat and pull them out one by one to set the order of your workout for the day.  Perform each exercise 20 times in succession, taking breaks for water and breathing whenever needed. You may have to work up to 20 reps of each, as well as work up to finishing the program in less than 20 minutes. Use the modifications and challenges as needed.

2012 Hustle:  

Always begin with this exercise as a warm-up. Part 1:  Alternate lifting your knees to your chest 4 times (right, left, right, left). Part 2: Alternate kicking your butt 4 times (like a hamstring curl).  Make sure to use your arms like you are really running. Repeat entire sequence 20 times.

2012 Benefit:  By lifting your legs high, your hips and hamstrings will mobilize and your core will activate.  As you kick your butt, your quads dynamically stretch as you reach your heel towards your butt.  As you pick up your pace, you’ll get your heart rate up and your body ready to work.

Total Body Make-Over:

Part 1: Begin by squatting with hands on the floor in front of you. Part 2: Jump your feet back to a push up position and simultaneously lower your chest to the floor. Part 3: Using your arms to push up, return to squat position. Part 4: Jump up and clap your hands together.  Repeat 20 times.

Modification(s):  a) Walk feet out and in, instead of jumping back and forth. b) Hold the top of a push up, instead of letting your chest hit the floor.  c) Reach up instead of jumping.  Challenge:  As you jump up, simultaneously kiss your feet together and clap your hands.  2012 Benefit:  Full body workout that will get your heart rate up quickly.

Chop Away:  

Part 1: Holding one weight with your feet shoulder width apart, pick up your right toes and your left heel to rotate all the way to the right.  As you rotate, bring your free weight up to form a diagonal line from your shoulders.  Part 2: In one motion swing it down over your left leg as you rotate into a lunge.  Repeat ten times and then repeat ten times to the other side.

Modification(s):  Take away the free weight and instead clasp your hands together with straight arms.  Challenge(s):  After you rotate up, squeeze your butt to lift your back leg up off the floor.  2012 Benefit:  Full body workout that targets the obliques - one of the best belly blasters around!


Part 1: Rotate your hips out with your knees tracking over your toes, and squat as far to the floor as you can, putting your hands on the floor in front of you. Part 2:  Push up from the floor, jumping up in the air. Land with bent knees to protect the joints and go back into your squat to prepare for the next jump. Repeat 20 times with little to no stop in between.  

Modification(s): a) Until you gain flexibility, put your hands on your thighs instead of the floor.  b) Reach up instead of jumping.  Challenge(s):  On each jump perform a 180 degree turn. After 10 times rotate the opposite direction.  2012 Benefit: Excellent cardio exercise that targets the legs and butt, and opens up the hips.

Plank, Jack & Row:  

Part 1: Hold a 12 pound weight in each hand and begin in a plank (top of a push up) with the feet wide.  Part 2: Soften the knees and squeeze the legs together (like a jumping jack).  Part 3: Jump back out to your wide plank.  Part 4: Row one weight to your rib cage, keeping your hips square to the floor.  Repeat jack and then row on the other side.  Repeat 20 times (10 on each side).

Modification(s):  Execute entire combination on all fours with no Jack.  Challenge(s):  Repeat 12 jacks in a row, followed by 12 rows on the right, 12 jacks, and 12 rows on the left.  2012 Benefit:  Better than any crunches you could ever do, plank will help define your abs and keep your entire core strong.  The jack tests the stability of your plank, especially your hips and back so work to keep your hips facing the floor and your shoulder blades squeezing together.  The row will also challenge your stability as it strengthens and sculpts your back and shoulders.

Shuffle It Off:

Part 1 & 2: Staying on the balls of the feet, quickly step and touch your feet together all the way to the right (Ideally give yourself fifteen feet).  Shuffle back to the left.  This is one rep.  Repeat 20 times.

Modification(s): Shorten the distance or slow down.  Challenge(s): a) Bend your knees and get closer to the floor.  b) Touch the floor once you shuffle all the way to the right and again once you go back all the way to the left. c) Hold one free weight at chest level. 2012 Benefit:  Targets the inner and outer thighs, gets your heart rate up, and burns your 2011 calories away.

Dip ‘N Walk:

Take tricep dips to a new level in 2012.  Part 1: Sit with your hands behind your butt and feet right under your knees, with your toes lifted off the floor.  Hold on to your free weights (to help keep wrists comfortable and stable) and lift your butt up off the floor.  Part 2: Lower your body down by bending at the elbow working the triceps.  Part 3 & 4: After you push back up, keep your arms straight and walk your feet out and in (right, left, right, left).  Lower back down into your dip.  Repeat ten times leading with the right leg and then ten times leading with the left.

Modification(s):  Perform tricep dip without the walk. Challenge(s):  Elevate your body on a chair or table and walk out and in when you lower down AND when you push up.  2012 Benefit: Get rid of flabby arms once and for all as you challenge your core, glutes and hamstrings all at the same time.

Speed Skaters: 

Part 1:  Begin with one leg crossed behind the other.  Reach your opposite arm across towards the supporting leg. Part 2: Just like a professional speed-skater, hop laterally (side to side) and cross back with the opposite leg.   One rep equals one hop to the right and one hop to the left.  Repeat 20 times quickly.

Modification(s):  a) Rather than hopping side to side, slide so the feet stay close to the floor.  b) Tap the leg down rather than balancing on one leg.  Challenge(s):  a) Land on one leg with the opposite foot crossing back but not touching the floor.  b) Stay low and try to touch the floor with the reaching arm.  2012 Benefit:  As you work for speed, it becomes a great cardio exercise.  Targets the “saddlebag” area that is so hard to get rid of - works outer thighs, hips, glutes and abs all at the same time.

Tri Push ‘N Plank: 

Part 1:  Begin in the top of a pushup position with your hands directly underneath your shoulders.  Part 2: Lower yourself down keeping your elbows close to your sides to work the triceps and chest. Part 3: As you return rotate your body completely to one side and stack your feet into a side plank.  Hold for a count of two before returning center.  Push up again and rotate to the opposite side.  Repeat 20 times (10 on each side).

Modification(s):  a) Perform pushup with knees on floor.  b) When you rotate to side plank cross your top leg behind the front leg. Challenge(s): a) As you push up slowly count to four.  b) In Side Plank lift the top leg up.  2012 Benefit: To perform a successful pushup and side Plank (let alone twenty), your entire body has to stay tight so you actually end up working every muscle in your body.  Additionally, by keeping the elbows in tight you work the triceps more than a regular pushup, while finally getting rid of those turkey arms.

Core Control:

Part 1:  Begin on all fours with your left leg extended back and your right hand behind your head.  Part 2: Round your back to the ceiling and slowly bring your opposing knee and elbow to meet into the center of your body. Repeat 10 times and then 10 times on the other side.

Modification(s): Keep both hands on the floor and just extend the leg.  Challenge(s):  As you extend back out, lift the leg and rotate your torso to your right.  2012 Benefit: Strengthen and lengthen your spine and you work your entire core, especially the neglected lower back.

Booty Burn (Squat ‘N Curtsey): 

Part 1: Holding one weight at chest level, start with your legs shoulder width apart.  Squat down with your chest lifted and weight in your heels.  Come up quickly so your legs straighten to get full hip extension.  Part 2: Cross your right leg behind your left (enough so you see your right foot on the other side) and lunge down, lowering your weight to the floor.  Bicep curl the weight to your chest as you stand back up. Repeat 10 times and then repeat on the other side.

Modification(s):  Get rid of the weight and place your hands on your hips.  Challenge(s): Add a balance challenge by lifting moving knee up to attach at inner thigh in between each squat and lunge, and/or add a shoulder press as the knee lifts up.  2012 Benefit:  By combining these two leg exercises together you’ll tone your entire lower body.  You’ll hit up your glutes, quads and hamstrings with the squat and target your outer and inner thighs with the curtsey (remember to squeeze those inner thighs tight as you curtsey lunge).

Picture Perfect Bicycles: 

Love to work those abs?  Part 1: Lying on your back, with your hands behind your head, pull your knees into your chest and lift your shoulders up off the floor.  Part 2: As you slowly extend one leg out, rotate your torso to the opposite leg. After you rotate, think of lifting up even higher and holding for a few seconds. Repeat on the other side.  Repeat 20 times (10 on each side).

Modification(s): Keep the extended leg on more of an angle.  Challenge(s):  Lift your shoulders even higher off the floor, and lower the extended leg closer to the floor.  2012 Benefit:  Strengthen your abs and sculpt your love handles away!


Sara Haley is a certified trainer and instructor through the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA), as well as a member of the American Pregnancy Association (APA). Specializing in prenatal fitness, functional training and dance methodology, Sara has over twenty years of dance and fitness training, and has been a Reebok Global Master Trainer since 2008.

I'm a former 7th grade Science teacher turned stay-at-home mom that lives in Houston, Texas. I am married to my college sweetheart and have a beautiful daughter named Riley, who definitely keeps me on my toes! I am also involved in starting a small business which would both manufacture and sell an invention that I've patented, called Toothpaste 2 Go. I love interacting with my readers and hope to learn as much about you as you learn about me!

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