20-Minute Total Body Workout
When you're pressed for time, a total-body workout can help you accomplish a few things. First, it will build muscle and burn fat. Second, it can lift your spirits. Third, if you typically do a longer workout, a quick workout can challenge your muscles in new ways that will make it even more effective than your usual exercise routine.
The best way to do a total-body workout in a short amount of time is to exercise two muscles at once. These kinds of exercises are called compound exercises. Usually, for example, you will do a biceps curl to build that muscle, but with compound exercise, you might combine your biceps curl with a squat or a lunge, which allows you to work both your arms and your legs at the same time.
You can, of course, come up with your own compound exercises, but you need to remember (or, you'll soon discover) that these moves come with their own set of challenges. For one thing, you can't use weights that are as heavy because your energy and focus will be dispersed between the two muscle groups you are working. Secondly, there is a coordination element. It's not always easy to do a lunge with, for example, a lateral raise. Also, since you'll want to make this routine just as useful as your typical workout, it's best to do at least two sets to exhaust the muscle. Finally, you'll want to do a couple of full body-weight moves to fully challenge yourself. That said, the exercises are still effective and the routines can be fun and challenging. Here's a 20-minute total-body routine. Specific exercises are listed first, and details of the exercises, including the muscles that each exercise works and suggested weight amounts, follow.
Lunges with biceps curl
Row with triceps kickbacks
Squats with bent lateral raises
Chest press with hip lift
Pushups with leg lifts
Standing twist crunches
Lunges with Biceps Curl (Quadriceps and Biceps)
Hold 5- to 10-pound dumbbells in each hand, with your feet hip distance apart, your abs contracted, and your shoulders relaxed. Your arms should be by your sides. Step forward about three feet with your right foot. Bend both knees into a lunge. As you do this, bend both elbows into biceps curls. This requires a lot of balance (so you're also working your core muscles). Step back, bringing your feet together and your arms down. Go to your left foot. Do this fifteen times on each side.
Lunge with biceps curl
Row with Triceps Kickbacks (Back and Triceps)
Stand with your feet hip distance apart, your abs contracted, and your shoulders down. Hold a 10-pound dumbbell in each hand, arms by your side. Keeping your knees slightly bent, bend forward from your hips, letting your arms down straight under your shoulders, palms facing each other. Keeping your shoulders away from your ears, contract your back muscles, then bend your elbows as you squeeze your back muscles together. Straighten your elbows as you extend your arms without locking your elbows. Bend your elbows again, then straighten your arms and return to the start. Do this fifteen times.
Squats with Bent Lateral Raises (Glutes and Shoulders)
Stand with your feet hip distance apart, with 10-pound dumbbells in each hand, elbows bent, forearms parallel to the floor, palms facing each other. Keeping your shoulders away from your ears and your abs contracted, bend your knees and squat down. As you do this, raise your arms from the shoulders (kind of like wings). Bending down should take two counts; then hold at the bottom for two counts; and then come up, taking a final two counts. Do this fifteen times.
I can't lift this much weight and do this many reps. How can I change the exercise?
No worries. You have two options. The first is to use lighter weights and try to do the full number of reps. The second is to use the heavier weight and do fewer reps. Both are fine, although using the heavier weight might help you build strength faster. But the most important thing is to do what you're most comfortable with, and what you'll stick with.
Chest Press with Hip Lift (Pecs and Butt/Hamstrings)
Lie on your back, with a 10-pound dumbbell in each hand at middle-chest level. Your wrists should be straight. Your elbows should be bent at the start on the floor, and your hands should be up in the air. Your knees should be bent, with your feet on the floor, and your shoulders away from your ears. Lift your hips up so that your torso and thighs are in a straight line from your knees to your head. As you do this, straighten your arms, but be sure that you don't lock your elbows at the top of the move. Lower your arms back down as you lower your hips. Do this fifteen times.
Pushups with Leg Lifts (Chest, Back, and Glutes)
Put your hands and knees on the floor, then straighten your legs so that you're balancing on your toes and hands. Your fingers should be facing forward, and the back of your neck should be long so that you're looking at the ground in front of your fingers. Be sure your body is long, too, from your heels to your head, with your abs contracted, hands directly under your shoulders, and shoulders pulled away from your ears. Lift your right leg without changing the straight line the rest of your body is in. Lower your right leg and raise your left. Then, bend your elbows and lower your body toward the floor without letting your abs sag down. Try to work your way up to fifteen of these.
Pushup with leg lift
Standing Crunches (Abs, Hip flexors, and Quadriceps)
Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, your shoulders away from your ears, no weights in your hands, abs contracted. Bring your arms up so that your hands are at ear height and your elbows are out to the side, as if you're doing a crunch on the ground. Keeping your abs contracted, bring your right knee up toward your chest as you bring your upper body down to meet it. Come back to the start position and repeat with the left knee. Do fifteen on each side.
Standing Twist Crunches (Obliques, Hip Flexors, and Quadriceps)
Stand with your feet hip — distance apart, your shoulders away from your ears, no weights in your hands, and your abs contracted. Bring your arms up so that your hands are at ear height and your elbows are out to the side, as if you're doing a crunch on the ground. Keeping your abs contracted, bring your right knee up toward your left shoulder as you twist your upper body down to meet it. Come back to the start position and repeat with the left knee. Do fifteen on each side.
Lie with your stomach on the floor, with your arms out straight in front of you, legs straight behind you, facing the floor (if you're uncomfortable with this, put a folded towel under your forehead). On an inhale, raise your arms and legs just a few inches above the floor. On an exhale, come down. Repeat up to fifteen times.
Standing twist crunch