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01/03/2014 06:41 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 10:52 EST

Muscle Building Workout: A Head-To-Toe Routine

fitness woman with barbells on...
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fitness woman with barbells on...

THE GOAL: Building and maintaining muscle tone

THE EXPERT: Jenn Zerling, author of Breaking the Chains of Obesity, 107 Tools and owner of JZ Fitness.

THE INFO: People eat fewer calories and engage in lots of cardio, but rarely do people realize the benefits of building muscle. The reason: no one wants to look bulky. Let’s be clear, building muscle is the key to all weight loss goals, as well as performance goals. Engaging in strength training routines will morphologically improve muscle recruitment for physical tasks and neurologically improve the body’s ability to improve balance, increase muscle recruitment during tasks, and improve your physiological makeup. Some of the benefits you gain when you gain muscle include improving bone density, improving your ability to burn fat and decreasing your risk of injuries.

This slow head-to-toe workout is a great way to hit every muscle group, while dragging out each repetition for a four-count-one-count-four-count tempo. In less than 20 minutes, you can achieve a total body workout and gain muscle too. Whenever you slow the tempo down, you achieve the maximum number of cross-bridges between protein filaments in the muscle to produce more force, strength and ultimately movement.

THE MOVES:

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Wide Squat: With feet wider than hip distance apart, turn your toes slightly out. Keep your chest lifted with your belly tight. When lowering towards the ground, open up the hips and angle the knees over the ankles. Hold the squat at the bottom for a count before pushing up slowly back to a standing position. Repeat.

Alternating Lunges With Reach: Starting with feet together, slowly step the left leg back, taking your left hand across to touch your right toes. Slowly bring that back leg into starting position and alternate between sides.

Supine Chest Fly: On your back, bring your knees up to 90 degrees, engaging your core. Extend your arms overhead with your palms facing inward, lower the arms down towards the ground, keeping your elbows slightly bent the entire set and exhale as you bring your arms up as if to hug a big bear. Hold your elbows in a slightly flexed position throughout the set.

Staggered Row To Tricep Extension: Grab a medium set of dumbbells. Starting with your feet together in a closed-legged squat, bring your arms into your body tightly for a row with your palms facing inward and your shoulders drawing down your back. Squeeze your scapula together tight. Step your right leg back as you bring your arms back into extension (which works the triceps). Step the right leg in and row the arms in again. Switch legs to bring your left leg back, bringing your arms into a triceps extension again. Alternate between sides.

Plank Rows: With medium weights, place your hands directly underneath your shoulders, your feet hip-distance apart in plank pose. Balance on your hands and toes. With your core engaged, row the arm tightly into the body, drawing your scapula in towards the centre of your back. Stabilize through the body, avoiding hip rotation. Lower the weight to the ground. Alternate between sides.

Perform as many repetitions of each exercise for one minute each. If two sides are being worked independently (unilaterally), either split the minute into 30 seconds, or do each side for one minute. Run through all five exercises in a super set fashion and perform a total of three sets, with a minute rest in between each super set.

Have something that needs fine tuning? Let us know in the comments below.

The new year is the time to take on new challenges, so for the month of January and beyond, The Huffington Post Canada's Living team brings you Fine Tuning: daily workouts, with tips on how to tone up, get healthy and stay fit for the whole year. Each workout will focus on one fitness goal or body part, with our favourite trainers showing you simple ways to get stronger and healthier in less than 45 minutes.