Think you don't have the time to work out? Think again!
No one should use the tired old excuse that they can't fit exercise into their busy schedule. A basic workout can be performed in just 30 minutes. Do that three days a week and you are on your way to a better body.
Skeptical? Then read on...
This is the ultimate workout when it comes to time management. In order to derive both cardiovascular and strength benefits, you will perform a circuit-based routine where you progress from one exercise to the next with as little rest between sets as possible.
Your rest should ideally be no more than about 10 seconds. This keeps your heart rate elevated while taxing your body in a way that promotes muscle development.
I've focused on exercises that require just dumbbells and/or your body weight for resistance. Alternative exercises can easily be substituted if desired. Whenever applicable, I have included multi-joint movements that work large amounts of muscle in a single exercise. In this way, you derive maximal benefits with a minimal investment of time.
The routine should be performed in the order listed below, as it alternates between agonist and antagonist muscles to allow for optimal recuperation. You should perform 10-15 repetitions per exercise, making sure to choose a weight that requires you to struggle on the last few reps.
As previously noted, move directly to the next exercise as quickly as possible after finishing a set. When you complete all nine exercises, repeat the sequence two more times in the same fashion.
You can see an animated description to each of these movements on my website LookGreatNaked.com. Just click on "Fitness Resources" and then "Exercise Database."
Perform the routine three non-consecutive days per week and you'll shape up in almost no time at all!
Sit at the edge of a flat bench or chair, with your feet planted firmly on the floor and your core held tight. Grasp two dumbbells and bring the weights to shoulder level, with your palms facing away from your body. Press the dumbbells directly up and in, allowing them to gently touch together directly over your head. Contract your deltoids and then slowly return the dumbbells along the same arc back to the starting position.
One Arm Dumbbell Row
Place your left hand and left knee on a flat bench, and plant your right foot firmly on the floor. Grasp a dumbbell in your right hand with your palm facing in, and let your arm hang by your side. Keeping your elbow close to your body and your core tight, pull the dumbbell up and back until it touches your hip. Feel a contraction in your upper back and then reverse the direction, slowly returning to the start position. After finishing the desired reps on your right side, repeat the exercise with your left arm.
Place your palms and toes on the floor, and hold your arms straight and rigid. Your hands should be approximately shoulder-width apart, your elbows flared out to the sides, and your core held tightly. Keeping your back perfectly straight, slowly bend your arms and lower your body down, stopping just before your chest touches the ground. Feel a stretch in your chest muscles and then reverse the direction, pushing your body up along the same path back to the starting position. If this move is too difficult, perform a modified push-up on your knees.
Seated Biceps Curl
Sit at the edge of a flat bench, with your feet planted firmly on the floor and your core held tightly. Grasp a pair of dumbbells and allow them to hang at your sides. Your elbows should be straight but not locked, and the palms of your hands should face forward. Press your elbows into your sides and keep them stable throughout the move. Curl the dumbbells up toward your shoulders and contract your biceps at the top of the move. Then, slowly reverse the direction and return to the starting position.
Place your heels on the floor and your palms on the edge of a flat bench. Keep your arms straight and your knees slightly bent. Slowly bend your elbows as far as possible without discomfort, allowing your butt to descend below the level of the bench. Make sure to keep your elbows close to your body throughout the move. Reverse your direction by straightening your arms and return to the starting position.
Grasp two dumbbells and allow your arms to hang down by your sides, with your palms facing your hips. Assume a shoulder-width stance with your toes pointed slightly outward. Keeping your core tight, slowly lower your body until your thighs are approximately parallel with the ground. When you reach a seated position, reverse the direction by straightening your legs and return to the starting position, contracting your triceps at the top of the move.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Grasp two dumbbells and let them hang in front of your body. Keeping your knees straight and your core tight, slowly bend forward at the hips and lower the dumbbells until you feel an intense stretch in your hamstrings. Then, reverse the direction, contracting your glutes as you rise upward to the starting position.
Standing Calf Raise
Stand on a step (such as a block of wood or a staircase) and allow your heels to drop below your toes. Hold on to a stationary object with one hand and hold a dumbbell in the other hand. Rise as high as you can on your toes until your calves are fully extended. Contract your calves and then slowly reverse the direction, returning to the starting position.
Lie on the floor on your back and bend your legs at a 90-degree angle. Ball your hands into fists and place them at your ears. Your upper back should be held slightly off the ground to maintain constant tension on the target muscles. Bring your right knee up toward your left elbow and try to touch them together. As you return your right leg and left elbow to the starting position, bring your left leg toward your right elbow in the same manner. Continue this movement, alternating between right and left sides as if you were pedaling a bike.
Brad Schoenfeld is one of America's leading fitness experts. He's the best-selling author of Sculpting Her Body Perfect, 28-Day Body Shapeover, and Women's Home Workout Bible. Schoenfeld is certified as a strength and conditioning specialist by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and as a personal trainer by both the American Council on Exercise and the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America. He's also been named "master trainer" by the International Association of Fitness Professionals. Check out his website at www.lookgreatnaked.com