Who’s not busy these days? More than ever women are on the go with work, family and other obligations. Even for dedicated gym-goers exercise is one of the first things to get sidelined when your time is put in the squeeze.
The good news is you only need 30 minutes to get in a killer gym workout. We swear. Do a 5- to 10-minute dynamic warm-up then perform these moves in the listed order for the suggested number of sets and reps using moderate weight. Keep your rest time to a minimum — 30 seconds max — to maintain an elevated heart rate (burning more calories!) and save time. Give yourself about three to four minutes per exercise, and you’ll be in, out and on with your day in less than 30 minutes.
Squat and Hold
Setup: Stand with your feet hip-width or slightly wider apart, and hold a barbell across your upper back and traps.
Move: Kick your hips back then bend your knees to squat down as low as you can, breaking parallel if it’s comfortable for you. Hold for a count of three at the bottom, then drive through your heels and extend your legs to rise to the start.
Tip: Keeping your weight in your heels will help you maintain balance and a proper, safe position.
Walking 1½ Lunge
Setup: Stand with your feet together and hold a set of dumbbells at your sides, your shoulders down and back.
Move: Take a large step forward with your right leg and bend both knees to lunge down. When your front thigh comes parallel to the floor, rise back up halfway, then lower again into the lunge. Then extend both legs and push off your rear foot to return to standing. Continue, alternating sides.
Tip: Your lunges should move straight up and down. At no time should you pitch forward over your front knee.
Setup: Take a wide overhand grip on a straight bar and sit with your feet flat and back straight. Look up toward the bar and arch your upper back slightly.
Move: Drive your elbows down and back to pull the bar toward your clavicle. Pause a squeeze at peak contraction then slowly return to the start.
Tip: Don’t lean back to pull the weight; rely only on the action of your arms and scapulae to pull the bar.
Flat-Bench Dumbbell Press to Flye
Setup: Lie on a flat bench with your back arching naturally and hold a set of dumbbells over your shoulders with your palms facing away from you, arms straight and perpendicular to the floor.
Move: Bend your elbows and lower the weights to your shoulders, keeping your elbows and wrists stacked, forearms perpendicular to the floor. Press back to the start, then turn your palms to face inward and bend your elbows slightly. Now lower the weights straight out to the sides by opening your arms, stopping just short of shoulder level. Squeeze your chest and bring your arms back to the start to complete one rep.
Tip: Don’t rush this move; do each part deliberately and completely using full range of motion.
Setup: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a set of dumbbells at your sides with your palms facing forward.
Move: Bend your elbows and curl the weights up in a smooth arc as high as you can, then press the weights up and overhead, corkscrewing your wrists so at the top your palms are facing forward. Go back the way you came to complete one rep.
Tip: Your pace should be even and controlled for both the curl and the overhead press. Try to link them and make them one fluid movement from bottom to top and down again.
Reverse-Grip Triceps Pressdown
Setup: Attach a straight bar to the upper pulley on a cable cross machine and take a wide, underhand grip on the bar. Draw your elbows in close to your sides and take a step away from the machine to create tension in the cable.
Move: Pull the bar down in a smooth arm until your arms are fully extended. Squeeze your triceps hard, then slowly return to the start, resisting the pull of the weight stack as you go.
Tip: If a straight bar causes your wrists distress, try a cambered bar instead.
Setup: Place your hands on the floor shoulder width apart, then step your feet behind you so you’re in plank position with your head, hips and heels in line.
Move: Hold plank for one breath, then punch one arm straight in front of you parallel to the floor and hold for one breath. Repeat on the other arm and hold to complete one rep (hold, punch, punch).
Tip: Avoid rocking back and forth as you extend your arms in front of you by pressing through your opposite heel, reaching it for the wall behind you to keep your hips level.