It doesn't get much easier to fit exercise into your busy schedule
You DO Have Time to Work Out
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You know you should exercise more. You want to exercise more. But sometimes it's tough to squeeze a full workout into your busy schedule. The good news: A number of published studies show that you can stay in shape and burn enough calories to maintain or lose weight by doing mini-workouts throughout the day. In fact, research has shown that short bouts of exercise are just as effective as long ones, provided the total cumulative workout time and intensity level are comparable. Try this quick metabolic conditioning (AKA "metcon") plan to fit a little fat-burning into your jam-packed schedule.
How it works: Perform each exercise for 60 seconds, resting 20-30 seconds between each move. Do the full circuit 1-3 times, depending on how much time (and energy) you have. Even one 6-minute circuit is a killer workout! For best results, do this routine up to 4 nonconsecutive days per week.
You'll need: A set of dumbbells (5-20 lbs) and a mat (optional).
Crossing Pushup Fly
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This compound move recruits several large muscle groups at once to maximize your calorie burn and condition your core.
How to do it: Grab a pair of dumbbells and get into full plank position with your hands on top of the weights. Bend your right knee and cross your right leg over your left as you lower into a pushup. Press back up to plank, and immediately rotate your body to the left, picking up the dumbbell in your left hand as you open your chest and reach your left arm up to ceiling. Hold for 1 count. Slowly lower the weight back to center plank. Repeat the movement with your left leg crossing over, opening to right side. Continue alternating sides each for 1 minute, doing as many reps as you can with good form.
Form tip: Keep your abs braced in tight the entire time to control your movements. If it's too tough to balance on top of the weights, place your hands on the floor and pick up the weight as you rotate. Still too challenging? Practice the move using just your bodyweight and add in the dumbbells when you feel ready.
Warrior III Row
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Build balance, strength, and stamina with this yoga-inspired move that will sculpt your upper back and your core.
How to do it: Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand on your right leg, left leg extended behind you, toes lightly on the floor. Hinge forward from your hips, lowering your torso until your body forms a straight line from your head to your left heel. Your left leg should be lifted, foot flexed. Bend your elbows and pull the weights to the sides of your ribcage, palms facing in, then lower your arms towards floor, keeping your body as still as possible as arms row back and forth.
Continue for 30 seconds on the right leg, and then stand up to switch legs and repeat for 30 more seconds on the left leg.
Form tip: Find a focal point on the floor in front of you to help with your balance. If it's still too tough, modify the move by keeping your back foot lightly tapped on the floor as you row.
Lunge Press and Pass
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Get your heart pumping with this moves that improves coordination and strengthens the muscles in your legs, butt, core, arms, and shoulders.
How to do it: Hold a dumbbell in front of your right shoulder, palm facing in, left arm extended by your side. Take a wide step forward with your right leg and lower into a lunge, bending both knees about 90-degrees. Push off of your right foot, and as you step back to the starting position, press both arms overhead and pass the weight to your left hand. Quickly repeat the movement on the other side, stepping forward with your left leg. Continue alternating legs as quickly as you can for 1 minute.
Form tip: Avoid letting your upper body lean during the lunge and press; Keep your abs drawn in tight and use control during each part of the exercise. Add a challenge by increasing your speed (adding in more reps in the same amount of time) without losing your form.
Skier Squat and Curl
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Most of your body's muscle mass is located below the belt, so why stand still while working your arms? Double your burn with this two-part sculpting move!
How to do it: Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand with your feet hip-width apart, elbows bent, palms facing in. Lower into a squat, and bring your chest slightly forward, hinging from the hips, while arms press back behind your body into a triceps extension.
Raise your torso back up, and step your left back, turning your body to the side, while performing a biceps curl [as shown]. Step your left foot back to start and repeat the squat and triceps extension, stepping and turning to the right this time. Continue alternating sides for 1 minute.
Form tip: Brace your abs in tight to support the spine, and avoid rounding your back—maintain a natural arch during the entire movement.
Squat Thrust Rows
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The cardio move that we love to hate gets added toning power with the addition of an upright row.
How to do it: Hold the dumbbells in front of your thighs, palms facing in. Squat down and lower the weights to the floor, keeping your arms straight and strong. Jump your feet back into a full plank position, keeping shoulders above hands and abs tight. Quickly jump feet back in, landing in a squat. Stand up with a flat back. As you stand, row the weights up in front of your chest, palms facing in, elbows slightly higher than shoulders. Lower your arms and squat down to repeat. Do as many reps as you can with great form for 1 minute.
Form tip: As you start to get tired (and you will), don't let your form suffer! Avoid letting your hips sag in the plank position, and don't let your back round when standing back up. If necessary, go slower or take brief rests in between each rep.
Extending Spider Pushups
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This double-sided movement uses just your bodyweight to work your arms, chest, back, and abs.
How to do it: Lie facedown with your legs extended, arms by your sides. Extend your spine and lift your shoulders, chest, arms, and thighs off the ground, reaching your fingertips back towards your heels, palms facing out. Quickly bend your elbows and place your hands on the floor just outside of your chest, toes tucked under. Brace your abs in tight and push up into full plank position (try not to 'snake' your body, but stay solid from your head to your ankles). Lower into a pushup and simultaneously bend your left knee to your left elbow. Extend your arms and step your left foot back to plank. Repeat the pushup, this time bending your right knee in. Lower your body back to the floor with control, and repeat the extension and pushup series. Do as many reps as possible for 1 minute.
Form tip: Keep your focus on the floor to avoid straining your neck during this exercise—imagine trying to balance a broom lengthwise along your spine during the pushup and plank movements.
Photos by: Vanessa Rogers Photography
Shot on location at Canyon Ranch in Miami Beach