These Alternating Set Workouts From Lesley Maxwell Will Get You Fit Fast

While National Women’s Fitness Day comes around just once a year, Lesley Maxwell is a bodybuilder and personal trainer from Melbourne, Australia, who demonstrates just what stunning results can be achieved if you work hard for the other 364 days.
Lesley Maxwell shares with M&F Hers both a home and gym workout that will blast your whole body in an efficient amount of time by utilizing alternating sets. So, if you’ve been telling yourself that you are just too busy for exercise, or have decided it’s far too late to start, then this “Fit Gran” is here to prove you wrong and inspire you to make some positive changes not just for today, but all-year-round.
“I was searching for a training method that would give me a healthy strong body, but was unaware of the benefits of weight training until I discovered it at 49-years-old,” says Maxwell, who jokes that she no longer identifies herself by age, and looking this fantastic, why should she? As a late-blooming bodybuilder, Maxwell had to go through trial and error before finding a plan that worked for her, but she soon reaped the rewards of her efforts by winning more than 30 titles, competing in fitness model divisions around the world. In 2009, she took first place and earned her pro card at the WNBF/INBF World Championships in New York and has taken further victories as recently as 2019 when she won the ICN Open Classic in 2019.
“I prefer weight training instead of cardio as my heart rate always rises when I’m lifting challenging weights,” says Maxwell. “The definition of ‘cardio exercise’ is ‘any exercise that elevates your heart rate.’ And, weight training using big compound movements will definitely accomplish that. So, effectively we are also doing cardio while we are weight training!” As a personal trainer, Maxwell finds that pushing and pulling burns calories and also tones up her busy clients. “My clients are motivated by how great they look and feel even after just a few sessions,” she adds, noting that alternating sets are a great method for getting the best out of any workout session.
Andrew K Photography
Why incorporate alternating sets in to your workout routine?
Alternating sets simply means that you do one set of an exercise before moving on to the next, then you return to the first, and repeat until you complete the routine. You can have a little rest between sets, but often, for many people, the rest period is just as long as it takes to transition from one exercise to the next. Moving through the workout like this is a great time saver, but there’s an added performance benefit, too. “While my upper body is recovering after a working set, I’m then working the lower body and vice versa,” says Maxwell. “It’s a great way of staying focused plus great for burning calories.” By moving through a time efficient full body workout, this PT believes that if we put our health first, we have no excuse not to move towards with being the best versions of ourselves. Studies show that alternating sets take less time than many other regular types of workout, but are just as effective as other weight training methods.  “People should be encouraged to  prioritize their health as it’s something money can’t buy,” says Maxwell. “We always feel so much more energised after training, plus I’ve noticed: when we are training then we sleep and eat better too!”
Don’t want to go it alone? Make exercise a social affair
Hiring an enthusiastic, qualified personal trainer like Lesley Maxwell is a great way to learn new routines and involving friends or family can make even more use of your time, adding a fun and social element to workout sessions. For example, they don’t call Maxwell the “Fit Gran” for nothing. This time defying athlete loves to train with her granddaughter, Tia Christofi. “Tia loves training glutes and toning her upper body with lighter weights, while I train with heavier weights to sculpt my whole body,” she says. “Tia has inspired me to work more on my glutes and is a great training partner!”
While alternating sets are great for full body workouts such as these go-to staples from Maxwell, this PT also notes that she likes to incorporate split routines into her alternating sets, focussing one day on upper-body, and another day on lower-body, so that she can execute more exercises on each. If you are more of an advanced gym goer, this is a great way to go. But when times is at a premium, why not get it all in at once!? Either way, getting your sweat on might just be the best anti-depressant out there. “I often joke that without training, I would be a very depressed and unhealthy person,” says Maxwell. “Weight training to me is a form of meditation: breathing rhythmically throughout the exercises plus stretching before, after, and in between can really boost our mood. Don’t forget our body releases positive hormones when we train!”

In these following workouts, begin with a comfortable weight and as you progress, you can increase the weight. Want to push yourself some more? Add sets to the existing routine. Advanced trainers could also add a second round to each alternating set.
Leslie Maxwell’s Full Body Workouts
Andrew K Photography
For more information on Lesley Maxwell and her personal training offerings please visit:

Warm up


Warmup and cooldown by stretching. You can also stretch between sets.

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