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Strength Training: Dance-Inspired Circuit!

Long-time runner and Dancing with the Stars performer Karina Smirnoff shares the dance-inspired workout that sculpted her famous physique.

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Women start to run for countless reasons—but Karina Smirnoff’s motive was a little unusual. For the Dancing With the Stars performer, the running bug bit thanks to a heated argument. Following a fight with her mom and dad, a teenage Smirnoff decided to lace up her sneakers and  y out the door. “I’d seen people do it in movies,” she explains. “And when you’re young and you live with your parents, you have nowhere else to go.”

Smirnoff’s means of blowing off steam soon became a passion. “From that point on, I started running,” she says. Now that she’s a dancer on the ABC smash hit, Smirnoff continues to run to stay in shape for the show’s grueling performance demands and “so I can let my mind rest while my body works hard.”

During filming breaks, Smirnoff prefers long slow runs “someplace beautiful.” But when Dancing with the Stars is in season, her schedule shifts dramatically. To  t her run in on days when she’s in the studio for five hours or longer, Smirnoff shortens the distance and mixes up the speed. “I go slower, then I go faster. Sometimes I freeze for 10 seconds, then start sprinting again.”

Smirnoff says dancing also helps make her a better runner. As a woman who regularly appears on national television in little more than a sequined bikini, she knows what it means to tone every inch. Her signature workout featured here is all about using the fundamentals of dance to engage often-ignored muscle groups. Crank up your favorite tunes and perform the exercises back-to-back for a total-body challenge!

Workout Guidelines

Perform the following exercises as a 10-minute circuit. After you’ve completed the circuit, rest for two minutes and repeat once or twice.


The Frog

(A) Lower into a squat with your feet wider than hip-width apart and turned out, and your arms in the shape of a field goal. (B) Keeping your hips still, use your abs to bend toward your left side, then to your right side. Bend back and forth six times. (C) On the sixth bend, lift your left knee to your navel, and twist your left elbow toward your knee. Repeat the entire sequence on the opposite side. Continue performing this sequence, switching sides for two minutes.


Stand up straight with your feet together, shoulders back. (A) Step to your right as far as you can while brushing the floor with the fingertips of your left hand. Next, step your left foot over to meet your right and stand up straight, keeping your weight on the right foot. (B) Repeat this movement, stepping to the left. Continue alternating sides for two minutes.



Stand up straight with your feet together, knees slightly bent, arms in the shape of a field goal. (A) Lift your left hip as you lower your left elbow. (B) Then lower your right elbow toward your right hip. Repeat this motion four times. (C) Next, in one explosive motion, transfer your weight to your left foot, and lift your right knee to your navel. Complete four high knees, then return to the starting position. Repeat this entire sequence on the left side. Continue alternating sides for two minutes.


(A) Stand up straight with your feet together. Lower into a squat position, tucking your arms in toward your chest. (B) Shift your weight to the left foot, and in an explosive movement, swing your right knee out to the back corner and stretch your arms out to the side. Return to the starting position. (C) Repeat this movement on the right side. Continue alternating sides for one minute.

Get It

Stand up straight with your feet together. (A) Bend your right leg, lifting your left knee up to your navel. (B) Jump to your left. (C) Land on your left leg and lift your right knee toward your navel. Continue jumping back and forth for one minute. (For an additional challenge, you can try jumping forward and backward as well.)

Arm Barrels

(A) Stand up straight with your feet together, arms stretched out parallel to the floor, palms facing up. Keeping your arms straight, circle your palms down and up (as if the top of your palm is tracing the inside of a barrel). Continue circling your arms for one minute. (B) For the next 30 seconds, continue circling while slowly raising your arms until your fingers are pointing toward the ceiling. (C) For the final 30 seconds, continue circling while slowly lowering your arms until your fingers are pointing toward your toes. This exercise will take a total of two minutes—by the end your arms should be burning!