What do personal trainers have in common with cops who give speeding tickets? They hear excuse after excuse after excuse. Just as drivers drum up dubious explanations for going 85 mph on the freeway ("I have to get to the bathroom!" "I had no idea I was going so fast!"), would-be exercisers offer countless rationalizations for slacking off on their workouts.
"I've heard 'em all," says veteran trainer Linda Lewis, Shape fitness editor. "A lot of people will latch on to any excuse they can, even though on some level they know the reasons aren't legitimate." Some of the excuses Lewis hears most often:
* "I don't have time to work out."
* "I can't afford a gym membership."
* "I don't have room in my home for equipment."
* "I travel and a lot of hotels don't have gyms."
* "The holidays are coming -- I may as well wait until they're past to get started."
* "I need to exercise at odd hours because of my work and the gyms around me aren't open."
Do any of these sound familiar? We thought so. To help you get back on the workout wagon, we asked Lewis to design a strength-training routine that combats every single excuse listed here -- and probably any other rationalization you could possibly think up. "There's a solution for everything -- if you want one," she says.
Lewis' answer is a 20-minute routine that strengthens and tones all of your major muscle groups in just six easy moves. The only equipment you need is exercise tubing, which will cost you a grand total of $5, available from Spri Products, (800) 222-7774 or spriproducts.com.
The tube certainly won't occupy half your living room, it has no confusing adjustment levers, and it won't weigh down your luggage. You can use it in your hotel room, your bedroom and even your office cubicle.
Even though the tube weighs only a few ounces, it can firm and shape your muscles just as effectively as heavy-duty machinery. "It's a lot harder than it looks," Lewis says. "And when it gets too easy, just increase the resistance by shortening the length of the tubing."
Can you really firm up your entire body with just six moves? Absolutely -- because each exercise targets several muscle groups at once. Not only will you save time by performing compound exercises, but you'll train your body to operate more efficiently in everyday life.
"Most of these moves are done standing up, so they're more functional than sitting on a piece of equipment," Lewis says. So there you have it: a simple, effective routine that won't break the bank, you can take with you anywhere and will sculpt your body without disrupting your schedule. So get going -- you're out of excuses!
Do this routine 2-3 times per week with at least 1 day of rest between sessions. If you're a beginner or are very short on time, start with 1 set of each exercise. When you have more time or want more of a challenge, do 2 or 3 sets, resting 1 minute between sets.
To keep things interesting, vary the order of the exercises. Or do a circuit: Perform 1 set of each exercise with little or no rest, then repeat the entire circuit 1 or 2 more times. Be sure to incorporate some cardiovascular exercise on your off days. To increase the resistance, choke up on the tube or wind it around your hands a couple of turns.
Begin with 5 minutes of light cardio exercise, such as walking, jumping rope or dancing to your favorite music. (Don't overextend yourself! You should be breathing normally and able to carry on a conversation.) Include some upper-body movement as well, such as small, controlled arm circles and shoulder rolls.
Finish your workout with 5 minutes of low-intensity cardio exercise (like walking), then take several minutes to stretch all your major muscle groups. Hold each stretch to a point of mild tension for 20-30 seconds without bouncing.
Where to get a tube
Go to a sporting-goods store or order one from Spri Products, (800) 222-7774 or spriproducts.com.