Many busy professionals feel that working out isn’t worth the time unless they can exercise for forty minutes or longer and it’s true that many healthcare workers and government agencies used to recommend that all adults get thirty consecutive minutes of aerobic exercise per day. But this is the twenty-first century and the fact of the matter is that you don’t have to do all your exercise at once to reap the health benefits. Research has shown that short, intense exercise segments throughout the day are just as effective as longer workouts at burning calories, increasing cardio endurance and lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. Even as little as five minutes can go a long way towards balancing hormones in the body and making you a happier person – is that great or what? You no longer have to worry about finding a large block of free time to work out; just take a coffee break and in five minutes you can feel totally rejuvenated.
One of the greatest things about shorter workouts is that they have tremendous potential to reshape your body with a minimum time commitment. Incorporating strength training exercises into your daily schedule is a powerful tool for both heart health and muscle strength. Spend five minutes doing lower body exercises and after several weeks you can tell a difference. Spend ten minutes on a power workout and results will show up in three weeks or less. Use the following ten-minute express workouts on a regular basis for a month and you will see remarkable changes in your body’s strength. You can do these workouts in your office with the door closed or, if your office is a cubicle, in the restroom or some other private area. Do whatever is necessary for you to fit in your exercise time at work.
Express Workout 1: Hips and Thighs
Hips and thighs can be a frustrating area to shape up especially for women. Thanks to the physiological design of female bodies, fat tends to be stored in the thighs and hips and can be very resistant to toning efforts. Perform this routine three to four times weekly in conjunction with aerobic exercise and your body will begin to reshape in six to ten weeks.
Squats: Squats are performed by standing with feet about shoulder-width apart and arms by sides. Keep strong posture and slowly lower buttocks as though about to sit down in a chair. Lower several inches and then slowly raise.
Pliès: Adopted from ballet, pliès are performed by standing with feet just wider than shoulder-width and toes pointed outward. With a hand on a chair or wall for balance, slowly drop body straight down for several inches and then come back up. To increase intensity, on the final pliè, stay in a lowered position and slowly pulse your body up and down about an inch. This fatigues the muscle faster.
Lunges: Lunges are performed by standing with feet about shoulder-width apart and hands on hips. Stand tall and take a large step forward with one foot, and remain in that position. Turn your back foot up until balanced on the toes and then slowly lower your body until your front knee forms a right angle. Slowly raise your body back up. Repeat on each side.
Leg Stretches: Stand with feet about shoulder-width apart and one hand holding a chair or wall for balance. Raise one foot behind you and reach back with your hand, grab the foot and gently pull it towards your buttocks. This stretches the quadriceps muscle on the front of the leg. Repeat with each leg.
For stretching the calf muscle, place one foot slightly in front of you and point your toes up, balancing on the heel. Keep your weight on the foot that is not being stretched. Repeat on both sides.
All times are approximate.
0:01 – 1:00 – Begin by walking briskly in place to warm up the muscles. Warming the muscles makes them pliable and will allow you to work longer.
1:01 – 3:00 – Perform as many squats as possible in two minutes.
3:01 – 4:00 – Rest for one minute.
4:01 – 6:00 – Perform as many pliès as possible in two minutes.
6:01 – 7:00 – Rest for one minute.
7:01 – 9:00 – Perform as many lunges (both legs) as possible in two minutes.
9:01 – 10:00 – Recovery and stretching.
Express Workout 2 – Arms and Shoulders
Building strength in your upper body is a vital part of any workout plan and fortunately it can be a fairly easy area to strengthen. Powerful arms are important for both men and women to assist with everyday life – it’s surprising how many typical daily tasks require using the shoulders, back and arms. By building those muscles, you will take some of the daily stress of your body. This 10-minute express workout develops the biceps, triceps, upper back muscles and shoulders.
Bicep Curls: Curls are done by standing with your feet about shoulder-width apart and weights in both hands. Tuck your elbows firmly against your sides with palms facing forward. Slowly raise the weight almost to your shoulder for a count of 5 and then lower it, again for a count of 5.
Overhead Press: The overhead press is performed by standing with feet about shoulder-width apart and a straight back, holding a weight in each hand. Bring the hands up to the shoulders and then slowly lift up for a count of 5. Raise the weights until the arm is almost fully extended; then release and lower downward.
Triceps Raise: Stand tall with feet slightly more than shoulder-width. With weights in hands, lift straight overhead until almost fully extended. Turn palms inward to face each other. Slowly begin to lower the weight down toward your back until the elbow forms a right angle; then raise the weight.
Forward Press: Standing with feet a few inches past shoulder-width. With weights in hands, bring up to shoulders. Slowly press the weights forward; then pull back. Be sure to keep arms level with shoulders and move forward and back slowly.
Stretches: Stretch the arms by raising your arms overhead, dropping one hand behind your head and using the other hand to gently press the elbow back to stretch the triceps muscle. Repeat with the other arm. Next, raise both arms overhead, lace fingers together and press arms outward. Lastly, bring one arm across the front of your body and use the other hand to press the arm against the body to stretch the biceps muscle.
0:01 – 0:30 – Warm up
0:31 – 2:30 – Perform as many slow, quality biceps curls as possible within two minutes.
2:31 – 3:00 – Rest for thirty seconds.
3:01 – 5:00 – Begin overhead raises and complete as many quality raises as possible within two minutes.
5:01 – 5:30 – Rest for thirty seconds.
5:31 – 7:30 – Complete as many accurate triceps presses as possible within two minutes.
7:31 – 8:00 – Rest for thirty seconds.
8:01 – 10:00 – Complete as many properly done forward presses as possible within two minutes.
Extra time: Stretch if you have time available.
Express Workout 3 – Abdominal Muscles
Having strong core muscles is crucial to protecting the spine and maintaining good posture. When your body is supported by strong central muscles it’s easier to perform everyday tasks as well as exercise. Abdominal workouts won’t flatten the stomach – that requires aerobic exercise – but they will strengthen and tone the muscles.
Basic Curls: Perform the basic curl by lying on your back with knees bents. Place your fingertips at your ears and use your stomach muscles to pull yourself about five or six inches. Slowly lower back down. Avoid using momentum to perform the exercises.
Cross-Curls: Begin in basic curl position. Contract stomach muscles and lift to the right as you bring your right elbow to your left knee. Switch and bring left elbow to right knee.
Bicycle: Begin in basic curl position but prop your upper body up on your elbows. Straighten your legs and then raise both legs several inches off the floor. Pull your right leg in to your body; then extend it as you pull in your left leg. Continue doing so; thus “bicycling.”
Rope Climb: Begin in basic curl position. Raise your legs straight up into the air while keeping your upper body flat on the floor. Using your abdominals to lift your upper back off the floor, use your hands and arms to pretend you are climbing a rope. Grasp the “rope” with your right hand as you bring your right side off the floor; then switch and use your left hand.
Stretches: Lie on your stomach with hands at about shoulder-height. Slowly use your hands to lift your upper body off the floor and stretch your abdominals.
0:01 – 2:00 – Perform as many well-done basic curls as possible within two minutes.
2:01 – 2:30 – Rest for thirty seconds.
2:31 – 4:30 – Complete as many accurate cross-curls as possible within two minutes.