Jillian Michaels’ 15-Minute Workout: Tone Your Trouble Spots

Tone your trouble spots--abs, thighs and rear--in as little as 15-minutes a day. Here, are four great exercises from trainer Jillian Michaels. You can even ramp it up with additional exercise challenges.

Jillian Michaels

Jillian Michaels hasn’t earned her reputation as the world’s toughest trainer for nothing. Whether snapping out orders on Losing It With Jillian or urging contestants on The Biggest Loser to try to bench-press her, her kick-butt approach to fitness has gotten amazing results.

Here, Jillian offers you a less aggressive—but highly effective—routine that you can do every other day. This total-body program lets you focus on tough-to-tame spots like your abdominals, thighs and rear end and choose from three levels of challenge for each exercise.

Better yet, this four-part program fits in perfectly with one of Jillian’s favorite get-fit approaches: fast moves that target several areas of the body at the same time. Working multiple muscle groups simultaneously helps burn more calories in less time and tone you faster. “If you structure your workouts to exercise several muscle groups at once, it makes for speedier, more efficient workouts,” she says. “It’s the most effective way to train.”

Jillian is also a big fan of strength—or resistance—training, a key component of the four moves she demonstrates for us. “Cardio without resistance training can result in a loss of muscle mass,” she cautions. “And that muscle is essential for bone and metabolism maintenance.” Strength training enhances balance and coordination while also protecting the joints.

With nearly 20 years as a personal trainer, a long list of top-selling fitness DVDs and four New York Times bestsellers, Jillian is a firm believer in the lifelong power of a healthy body. “When you are physically strong, it transcends every aspect of your life,” says the super-trainer, whose latest book is Unlimited: How to Build an Exceptional Life (Crown Archetype, 2011). “Setting and achieving a fitness goal, no matter how small, motivates you inside and out.”

So, get your doctor’s OK, then give Jillian’s routine a whirl. You’ll love these exercises as much as we do.

Choose the Right Exercise Challenge for You

As you check out Jillian’s moves, determine which of the three challenge levels is appropriate. “Identify your level by watching your form,” says Jillian. You should be able to do the suggested number of reps with perfect form. If not, go easier. Too much too soon can lead to injury. “Injury prevention is essential for long-term fitness and overall wellness.”

The Super-Squat

Tones shoulders, lower back, abs, thighs and rear

Why I Love It

“It’s extremely efficient because you’re working multiple muscle groups all at once.”

  1. Stand shoulder-width apart with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands at your sides.
  2. Squat down as though preparing to sit in a chair. Your knees should be somewhat longer than your feet.
  3. Lift both arms straight out in front of you to chest level.
  4. If you can, hold the pose for 20 seconds and release. Rest and repeat twice.

More Challenging

Squat more deeply; the goal is to get your thighs almost parallel to the ground.


Squat so thighs are parallel to the ground and hold a 5-pound weight in each hand while you do the Super-Squat.

Marching Orders

Tones shoulders, biceps/triceps, upper back, abs, thighs and rear

Why I Love It

“It’s incredibly aerobic but strengthens your body with resistance at the same time.”

  1. Hold your hands at shoulder height with your elbows bent. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Raise your left knee until your thigh is parallel to the ground.
  3. Raise your right arm overhead.
  4. Step down on your left foot and alternate, raising the opposite arm and leg.
  5. Repeat 20 times, alternating sides. Do 3 sets.

More Challenging

Hold a 5-pound weight in each hand.


Instead of simply stepping up and down, do a jump-hop each time you switch your legs and arms.

Bend & Stretch

Tones shoulders, chest, abs and thighs

Why I Love It

“It ‘shreds’ the entire front of your body.”

  1. Lie on your back on a bench (or on the floor if you don’t have a bench) with your arms on either side of the bench.
  2. Hold your legs together. Raise your legs to a 45-degree angle. Hold your arms straight out to the sides, off the ground, at shoulder level. Hold an 8-pound weight in each hand.
  3. Tighten your abdominal muscles. Bring your arms straight together over your chest.
  4. Bring your legs to 90 degrees (perpendicular to the ground).
  5. Lower legs so they just hover off the ground.
  6. Return to starting position. Perform three sets of 15 repetitions total.

More Challenging

Use 15-pound weights.


In step 3, as you tighten your abdominals, lift your shoulders off the bench and bring your arms together over your chest. With shoulders raised, bring your legs to 90 degrees.

Best Bench Press

Tones shoulders, lower back, abs, rear and hamstrings

Why I Love It

“It quickly tightens up your bum and the backs of your thighs.”

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your hands by your sides.
  2. Raise your hands and bend elbows so that your arms form 90-degree angles. Your upper arms should be perpendicular to your shoulders, palms facing front.
  3. Bend slowly forward. Strive to get your back as close to parallel to the ground as possible. Straighten your arms out in front of you; hold for 20 seconds.
  4. Return to starting position. Repeat two more times to complete three sets.

More Challenging

Try a deeper bend at the waist. The goal is to get your back parallel to the ground this time.


Hold one 3-pound weight in each hand while you do the exercise.